When the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham was built in 1927, a trip to the movies was an extravagant affair. With touches of gold and red velvet, the theatre was reflective of the “picture palaces” of its era. Unlike other buildings of its time, the theatre was building using a combination of steel and concrete rather than wood.
It has been said, “Only the veteran can write from experience of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of combat.” I believe that exposure to my father gave me license to write about those Alabama men of the Rainbow Division and the memory of them. He was a very experienced combat soldier, a wounded veteran of multiple World War I battles and he was troubled; In the end he was an alcoholic veteran whose good wife left him.
Since I started speaking and writing about what was first called the Great War, I have tried to do so in the voice of a soldier. I have tried to honor the memory of World War I veterans in a dignified way, in the same way that I remember those I served with in Korea in 1952 and 1953. Some in all our wars have failed to deserve much honor and some were not very high class, admirable or successful individuals but I respect the sacrifices and service of them all. The men and women who raised their hands to volunteer in dangerous situations, even those who simply did their duty, are special. They helped this country remain free.
Following is a list of commemorations and events -- both in America and abroad -- honoring the Alabama Rainbow Soldiers.
University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is lined with iconic structures from the President’s Mansion to Bryant-Denny Stadium and the homes on Caplewood Drive Historic District. But an equally beautiful, Greek Revival-style building has been on the corner of University Boulevard and Queen City Avenue for nearly 185 years and has quite a history.
Alabama Heritage is proud to support the History Relevance Campaign’s statement on the value of history in contemporary life. The HRC is a diverse group of history professionals posing questions about what makes the past relevant today. With common agreement, commitment, and open conversation about why history is important, the HRC believes the historical community can change the common perception that history is nice, but not essential. Following are reasons why the History Center project matters.
On March 25, 1931, two white women accused nine black men of raping them in the town of Paint Rock, Alabama. Taking place in the segregated South, this claim caused outrage to spread all throughout Alabama and the South, and the nine black men immediately became scapegoats.
An important figure of these trials that is often forgotten is Judge James Horton from Athens, Alabama, who was the presiding judge at the retrial of Haywood Patterson. The nine black men were all found guilty upon completion of their trials in Scottsboro; however, the Supreme Court agreed that they could not be tried fairly in Scottsboro and moved the trials to Decatur. This is how the trials ended up taking place in Judge Horton’s court.
Among one of Birmingham’s several farmer’s markets is Andy’s Farm Market, owned by Andy and Tricia Burris. Andy grew up on a family farm in Loxley, Alabama, where he started farming with his brother when he was twelve years old, growing strawberries and cantaloupe. From there, he went on to pursue a college degree and graduated from Birmingham Southern. In 1997 he and his wife opened the farmer’s market.
After opening the market, he purchased a small amount of pansies to sell in his store. In the following months, the Burrises built a greenhouse and opened a garden center in 2000. There they sell shrubs, trees, and other plants to their customers, along with the materials needed to help them grow.
For those on the outside looking in, the University of Alabama is synonymous with two things: football and the civil rights movement. Iconic images from that era include the riot on the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library steps over the university’s inadvertent admittance of Autherine Lucy, George Wallace’s pro-segregation speech in front of Foster Auditorium, and Vivian Malone and James Hood standing side by side as they attempt to enroll for the fall 1963 semester. But there is another element to our campus’s history that is often forgotten: slavery.
In the ten years since he became head coach of the Crimson Tide football team, Nick Saban has amassed an unprecedented number of wins on every level: regular season games, SEC Championships, post-season bowls on the national level, and coaching awards. By the time I arrived at the University of Alabama in 2013, his name was already in conversation with another Alabama legend: Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.
A native of Cleveland County, Arkansas, Bryant was known for two things: his signature houndstooth fedora and winning. During his quarter-century tenure at the University of Alabama, Bryant engineered more than three hundred wins for the program, coached the legendary quarterback Joe Namath, and oversaw the integration of UA’s athletic program in the early 1970s. I’d like to argue that many aspects of Bryant’s successful career was owed primarily to one man: Frank Thomas.
When making the choice to attend the University of Alabama, I recalled an image from my first-grade social studies book: George Wallace’s Stand at the Schoolhouse Door. Although at six years old I didn’t understand all of the complexities regarding the legacy of colonialism, the European Slave Trade, and Jim Crow-era politics, I never forgot that image. Still, this challenging history did not sway me from attending. Instead, I viewed it as a chance to face some relics and demons from another time—another world—head on.
Thousands of travelers drive under the arches of the General W.K. Wilson Bridge outside of Mobile, Alabama, but not many know the story behind its name.
Walter K. Wilson was born on August 26, 1906, at Fort Barrancas, Florida. His father, Gen. Walter King Wilson, was an artillery officer which sparked an interest in Wilson to join the military. Wilson Jr. attended the University of Hawaii for a short amount of time while his father was stationed at Fort Ruger. Later, Wilson attended the Army's West Point Preparatory School at Schofield Barracks and then entered the Military Academy in 1925. He graduated in 1929 and, due to his class standing, was eligible for commission in the Corps of Engineers. Wilson joined the corps per his father’s advice and began his career.
Alabama Heritage BLOG
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