Category Archives: history

President’s signature formally awards “Four Little Girls” Congressional Gold Medal

fourgirlssigningApril 24 saw the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approve awarding the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Addie Mae Collins, Carol Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, all 14; and Denise McNair, 11 – the four young girls killed when Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed on September 15, 1963. The Senate approved the bill in similar fashion on May 9.

Today, as Birmingham mayor William Bell, Rep. Terri Sewell, and relatives of the four girls among those as witnesses, President Obama’s signature made it official.

The photo above was posted to the congresswoman’s fan page on Facebook early Friday evening, May 24, and it also appears with the story filed by NPR and attributed to the Getty Images pool.

Shuttlesworth headstone dedicated at Oak Hill

close-up of Shuttlesworth headstone.Saturday morning, November 3, passed quietly for most of the city. While citizens were either recovering from Dia de los Muertos festivities or busy preparing for Christmas Village, Disney on Ice, and the Moss Rock Festival, Oak Hill Cemetery readied the grounds for the family of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

The Civil Rights leader died on October 5, 2011 and was laid to rest October 24.

About a dozen people assembled at Shuttlesworth’s plot at the historic cemetery, honoring the late Reverend with a small service and monument unveiling just before lunch. His family was joined by Reverend Abraham Woods, Mayor William Bell, and City Councilor Lashunda Scales.

Rev. Woods led those in attendance in a dedication honoring Shuttlesworth’s service to the Civil Rights movement – one that included prayer and an invocation.

Family members and guests, including Mayor Bell, spoke afterwards.

The new headstone is black granite etched with the Reverend’s image and a scripture quote from Isaiah 26:3. His grave site faces 19th St. North and is across from the Sloss family plot.

Photo: Courtesy of Stuart Oates of Oak Hill Cemetery and Rebecca Dobrinski.

Birmingham still has Perpetual Promise

CPP cover. Dystopos/FlickrThere are many nicknames that have been given to Birmingham, AL by its citizens. There are some that are actually associated with the city, including being the original Magic City – or are we?

It’s also been called Tragic City (a nickname that isn’t associated with the city that much, unless you’re talking about our roller derby squad

Another popular nickname is Steel City, though it doesn’t seem to be used by that many people outside of the city as it is inside metro Birmingham.

A tag applied to the city since 1937 by some historical buffs is “The City of Perpetual Promise.” It’s taken from the title of a piece written by George Leighton for the August 1937 edition of Harper’s Magazine. The piece has influenced several pieces in recent years, from former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s 2009 Birmingham News editorial to a February 2008 piece published in Harper’s looking at what had changed since 1937.

John Morse (the man behind BhamWiki) recently scanned the article and posted the pages to Flickr . The article is also available for reading via Harper’s Magazine‘s own archives in PDF format – if you have a subscription. You’ll also find the text included in a book published by Leighton in 1939.

Photo: CPP cover. Dystopos/Flickr

Happy Alabama Day!

Flag of the State of Alabama (United States of America) (1895-present). Vibracobra23/FlickrYes, 191 years ago today, Alabama became the 22nd state in the Union.

Now we’ll freely admit that we aren’t that good to remember. Luckily we’ve got the Encyclopedia of Alabama to remind us. The site officially launched in September 2008 (though it had been up since that February as was posted here).

They’ve since added a fan page on Facebook where they share bits of the state’s history daily and hope that today’s a good reason for more folks to start following it.

Something else to keep in mind is the fact that Birmingham turns 139 years old this coming Sunday. BhamWiki continues to crank out additional information about The Magic City and added a Twitter account several months ago to its information-sharing arsenal.

Image: Flag of the State of Alabama (United States of America) (1895-present). Vibracobra23/Flickr

Rickwood Field turns 100

America’s – and the world’s – oldest ballpark officially turned 100 years old on Wednesday afternoon and The Friends of Rickwood Field organized a celebration befitting the occasion.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly want to cooperate to allow a three-inning exhibition game to be played.

Hundreds still gathered under the grandstand attempting to stay dry while they heard words from Birmingham mayor William Bell’s chief of staff Chuck Faush and A.H. “Rick” Woodward III, grandson of the park’s builder, among others. A new sign from the state tourism office was unveiled, joining the historical marker already located in front of the ballpark’s main entrance. The video up above is of former Birmingham Barons owner Art Clarkson reading a letter from the team’s current parent club, the Chicago White Sox.

Incidentally, the demolition of the Sox’s former home, Comiskey Park, back in 1991, led to Rickwood’s current designation.

A historic stroll through Birmingham is expanded

Birmingham's Civil Rights Walking Trail expandsFolks walking along 6th Avenue North between 19th and 17th Streets in downtown Birmingham may notice some large orange signs now located along the sidewalk. The four signs are the latest additions to the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail, first unveiled in August 2009. As first reported by The Birmingham News when the first signs were unveiled, the first portion of the trail will take people from Kelly Ingram Park to Linn Park.

This sign is located at the corner of 19th Street and 6th Avenue North in front of First Church Birmingham.

Photo: Birmingham’s Civil Rights Heritage Trail expands. acnatta/Flickr

Fair Park Locomotive moving to Sloss

35Birmingham’s Fair Park has long been home to this 1917 “war baby” steam locomotive. Well, on February 22 it’ll be settling into its new home on the grounds of the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark site. It is the result of an effort led by Mountain Book mayor Terry Oden to raise the $150,000 necessary to pay for the transport of the locomotive by flatbed railcar to its new home. The Birmingham News ran a piece in mid-January with details for those interested in helping out with the move.

BTW: If you wanted to check out some photos from the demolition of the raceway grandstand from last month, there’s a photo set courtesy of Bob Farley over in The Gallery.

Photo: Courtesy of Sloss Furnaces