For many southern women, being fashionable, particularly when it comes to dressing for special occasions, presents a welcome challenge to find the perfect outfit or dress to outshine all others. When the department store or boutique selection seems unexceptional, they may turn to talented seamstresses and stylists, seeking out unique attire for everything from birthday parties to debutante once a year in a special event outfit designed Karen Thornton, Midwesterner-turned-the necessary for the occasion.
Free blacks in the antebellum South led precarious lives. Respected by slaves, with whom they shared skin color but not bondage, free persons of color were often feared by whites, who suspected they might be the fuse with which Northern abolitionists ignited a slave rebellion in the South. To prevent such an occurrence, Southern whites passed a series of laws throughout the first half of the nineteenth century restricting the actions of free blacks.
In its first editorial column on July 16, 1965, the Southern Courier (Courier) introduced itself to the public: “The SOUTHERN COURIER is an independent newspaper. Our responsibility is to our readers, the people of Alabama.” The paper would have a special commitment to the state’s African American population, seeking content that would “help erase the injustices of segregation and prejudice.” The purpose was not to persuade but to give facts about events and topics that mattered to its audience—issues largely overlooked by the mainstream media—so they could form their own opinions.
The paper was founded by two editors of the Harvard Crimson who had participated in the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi. Frustrated by the unfair news coverage there, they decided to establish an outlet for participants and advocates of the civil rights movement. Initially, the project focused on Alabama, a logical choice in light of the recent Selma to Montgomery March and the voter registration activity that was expected to follow.
On a quiet night, you can almost hear faint echoes of hot jazz, cool blues, or sizzling swing from yesteryear seeping through the old rectangular building's faded yellow brick exterior. Walk up close enough to read the historical plaque mounted on the side of the old structure, and the mingled aromas of ladies' perfumes, sweaty summer nights, and a fish fry down the block seem to drift by. The plaque pays homage to the history of this building and its immediate two-block neighborhood: Tuxedo Junction.
From the Vault
Read complete classic articles and departments featured in Alabama Heritage magazine in the past 35 years of publishing. You'll find in-depth features along with quirky and fun departments that cover the people, places, and events that make our state great!