It was the year 1924 and the somewhat-sleepy town of Opelika, Alabama, was looking for a way to boom. Many neighboring towns had already established successful cotton mills. Opelika had been attempting, unsuccessfully, since the 1880s to attract an economic boost in the form of a mill. This all changed when the Maine-based “Pepperell Manufacturing Company'' came to Opelika in search of a location for their first-ever Southern cotton mill. Opelika attained this honorable distinction by the slimmest of margins.
When I first imagined interning at Alabama Heritage, I certainly did not anticipate doing so during a global pandemic. I assume that this is how most people feel during this time though—who could have anticipated that we would face such uncertainty as a result of a contagious virus?
Having achieved her bachelor’s degree in English, Foster was persuaded to apply to graduate school at the University of Alabama by a classmate, Pollie Anne Myers. In 1952 both women applied and received their acceptance mid-September. However, only days later, their admission was rescinded upon the discovery of their race. They prepared for a lengthy court battle, which continued until 1955, when the Supreme Court ruled on Brown V. Board of Education. In the case of Foster and Myers, the judge ruled in their favor, though Myers admittance was later denied by the University due to a pregnancy out of marriage.
The victory, though significant, was short-lived. After Myers’s rejection, Foster had to continue her journey alone. She attended her first class in February 1956, and public backlash soon escalated. Foster required a police escort to protect her from increasingly angry protestors, who gathered in the hundreds and assaulted Foster with rotten eggs. Mere days after her enrollment, the university’s Board of Trustees voted to remove her. Though the decision was purportedly for Foster’s safety, it was a bitter end to her stand for academic justice. At the end of February, Foster was officially expelled from the university due to anger over her attorneys suggesting that the University conspired with the mob.
Foster’s expulsion stood until 1988, when officials voted to overturn it, and she returned to the University of Alabama to pursue a master’s in education. She graduated alongside her daughter, and today she is recognized with two landmarks on campus: a historic placard outside Graves Hall and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower. In May 2019, Foster was granted an honorary doctorate by the university to recognize her role as a trailblazer for civil rights in Alabama.
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Mardi Gras is the celebration that followed Catholic immigrants all the way across the Atlantic to the city of Mobile, Alabama. Since 1703, when Nicholas Langlois introduced Mardi Gras to the French colonies, Mobile has celebrated with riotous color. Mobile was originally the capital of the French colony Louisiana. While most recognizable today as the Mardi Gras of New Orleans fame, this festival had its American start right here in Alabama.
In honor of Tuscaloosa’s bicentennial, the Warner Transportation Museum is hosting an exhibit focusing on the Civil War and Reconstruction in the city. The exhibit follows the later days of the Civil War and examines its impact on Tuscaloosa as well as the University of Alabama. It also explores the Reconstruction period and the resulting changes in Tuscaloosa’s culture.
The daily grind of the publishing world is continually evolving with a variety of tasks required that keep our jobs from remaining stagnate--whether we are fielding calls from customers with great story ideas, fulfilling subscription sales, researching the history behind a small 1800s home, photographing said home, working with the media, or planning our next big conference, event, or editorial calendar. Just this month, however, the staff at Alabama Heritage can all add an additional skillset to our resumes: bulk mailing (a.k.a. “where the magic happens” or “from where your magazine gets shipped to you.”)
This month, the Talladega Superspeedway is celebrating fifty years of racing. Fifty years ago track construction began for the Alabama International Motor Speedway, which is now called Talladega Superspeedway. A year later, the first race was held on September 13, 1969. Even though it is called Talladega Superspeedway, you will actually find the race track in the small town of Lincoln, Alabama. The track was built on the former Anniston Air Force Base that had been abandoned, and the purpose for building the track was to have a more central racing location for the Southeast. With the Alabama International Motor Speedway being built, there was less travel involved for race fans. Traveling plans may have been an issue at the time, but now people travel from all over to get a taste of what racing is like in the Talladega Superspeedway.
Mardi Gras in Mobile continues to be a large part of Alabama and Gulf Coast culture and still generates a great deal of tourism as people flood in to see the grand parades and other celebrations held in honor of Fat Tuesday. While in Mobile, be sure to catch the relatively family-friendly parades (they are much tamer than those of New Orleans) and try your luck catching beads, toys, candy, and moonpies, a signature treat in Mobile’s Mardi Gras.
Wearing the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart with Gold Star that Eleanor Roosevelt has just pinned to his newly issued khaki uniform, Hugh Miller shakes hands with the First Lady as Admiral William Halsey (to Hugh’s immediate right) looks on. The ceremony—held at the naval hospital in Nouméa, New Caledonia, on September 15, 1943—was conducted at the foot of the bed occupied by Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Willard G. Langley, the sole known survivor of Strong’s forward engine room. (National Archives. Courtesy Mr. Stephen Harding)
The USS Strong (DD 467), a WWII destroyer sunk by a Japanese torpedo in July 1943 in the Battle for Kula Gulf, has been located on the Pacific seafloor by the Research Vessel Petrel. The wreck serves as a watery grave for at least 46 U.S. Navy Sailors. Its discovery has rekindled a uniquely American story of remarkable resiliency, grit, fearlessness and resolve.
Alabama Heritage BLOG
At Alabama Heritage, we owe many of our successes and smooth operations to our fabulous student interns. We hope that with this blog, written mostly by our interns, our readers will have an opportunity to get to know the students who bring so much to the table with their enthusiasm, hard work, and expertise!
If you're interested in our internship program, check out the details here.