Communication Hall of Fame Inductees Archive
There are two Don Logans. One sits high atop Manhattan in a shiny glass tower, making executive decisions for the largest publishing corporation in media history, Time Warner Inc. The other one balances in a skiff, casting for bass while whiffing gnats and slapping away Alabama mosquitoes.
Yet to those who know him well, both personae fit comfortably under the same skin: Logan the captain of industry and Logan the down-home outdoorsman. And then there is the other thing about Logan: friends say he is the smartest man they have ever known and the best example of the right and left brain working in sync.
Logan attended Auburn University, the first in his family from Hartselle, Alabama, to do so, and studied mathematics. His college major represents one of many paradoxes. In the world of words, art and ideas, he crunches numbers. He has an honorary doctorate in the Sciences, another in the Humanities. He swims with the sharks but fishes for bass. In 1970, he left NASA for the farm--Progressive Farmer, that is, the company that would become known as Southern Progress Corp.
After revamping SPC’s computer system, he rose to CEO and eventually led the energetic regional publishing company to the attention of national publishing giant Time Inc. It was not long before Time Inc. wanted not only Southern Progress Corp., but also Don Logan. When he arrived in New York to serve as president and COO in 1992, the company was coming off its third straight year of declining or flat earnings, but under his direction the company posted seven straight years of double digit earnings growth with profits of $686 million in 1998. By 1994, Logan was named CEO of Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the world and a leading direct marketer of music and videos.
His executive abilities are indisputable but so are his humanitarian passions. He has presided over Birmingham’s Chamber of Commerce, joined forces in creating the Civil Rights Institute, and served on the Boards of The National Book Foundation and the Magazine Publishers of America as well as serving as a trustee of Samford University--all the while keeping his old fashioned sense of values while embracing new fashioned technologies.
Some thought he would be consumed by the bigness of the Big Apple, a world where business is business, nothing personal. But not Logan. He has retained his small town sensibilities, something that has distinguished him and generated more respect. “I would’ve left the company absolutely [if not for Logan],” says Ann Moore, President of People Group, the division best known for People Magazine. “With Logan, it’s a true meritocracy.”
F. David Mathews
David Mathews cannot help championing democracy. It is in his blood. When Mathews’s grandfather served as Clarke County school superintendent during the 1920s, public education was suffering from funding woes that resulted in sharp disparities. The elder Mathews swore an oath to equalize all schools in the county because there was no question that such disparities were “un-American, undemocratic and not Christian.”
That story and others passed on to Mathews became a lifelong obsession with democracy, its public deliberations, and the education of its body politic. After high school, he made his way up three counties, to the University of Alabama where he studied classical Greek and history, taking both his B.A. and M.A. before serving in the Army. Following military service, Mathews obtained his Ph.D. at Columbia University and returned to the University where he joined the faculty in history and the administration as dean of men.
Then president Frank Rose saw a winner in the young scholar/leader. Mathews rose quickly to executive vice president, and within five years, at age thirty-three, he became president, the youngest person ever to hold the university’s highest office. For eleven years, beginning in 1969, he guided his alma mater through some of her most turbulent times, relying on his intelligence and an instinct for loyalty and commitment that many consider evidence of a precocious wisdom. Those qualities served him well as president, but it was his passion for democracy that defined him, a spirit best explained in the words of one of his favorites, Mary Parker Follett who observed, “We have an instinct for democracy because we have an instinct for wholeness; we get wholeness only through reciprocal relations, through infinitely expanding reciprocal relations.”
President Gerald R. Ford noticed. From 1975-1977 Mathews took leave to serve as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, where his overall mission was to assist President Ford in restoring the nation’s confidence in democracy, not an electoral mandate but a public one necessary in the wake of Watergate. He has not stopped in that quest. His most recent books Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice and Why Public Schools, Whose Public Schools, What Early Communities Have to Tell Us echo his experiences as both the malleable grandson and the idealistic leader who believes “politics isn’t just about government. It’s about the way people solve their common problems.”
Mathews has received numerous awards including a citation as one of the nation’s ten Most Outstanding Young Men; the Nicholas Murray Butler Medal in Silver from Columbia University; Administrator of the Year from the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors; and the Brotherhood Award form the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He is also an inductee of the prestigious Alabama Academy of Honor. The recipient of sixteen honorary degrees, Mathews serves on the boards of the National Civic League and Miles College, and chairs the Council on Public Policy Education. He is also a trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and member of the executive committee of Public Agenda.
In 1981 Mathews became President, CEO, and trustee of the Kettering Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1927 to “sponsor and carry out scientific research for the benefit of humanity.” Inspired by the creative philosophy and pragmatic open-mindedness of its founder, Charles Kettering, the foundation’s mission has expanded to include research in education, international affairs, and the practice of democracy, what David Mathews sums up in a single question: “What does it mean to make a democracy work as it should?”
Almost one hundred years ago, his grandfather answered. During his presidency, the University answered. And Mathews, with Kettering’s choir of varied voices, is still answering today.
Howell H. Raines
Where else but in Alabama can the genesis of a Pulitzer Prize begin on a football field? When The Birmingham Post Herald offered free tickets to whoever would cover The University of Alabama’s game against Auburn on Thanksgiving Day 1964 (Alabama 21, Auburn 14), copy desk rookie Howell Raines was ready. He hit the field, ran the sidelines with the Bear, almost lost his pad and his story-line when he went airborne to cheer a breakaway halfback, then wrote what editor Clarke Stallworth says is the best story ever to come from a starter. It was indeed the start of a monumental career in journalism.
After the Post Herald, Raines worked as a reporter for WBRC-TV, The Tuscaloosa News, The Birmingham News and The Atlanta Journal Constitution before joining The Saint Petersburg Times. He worked as a film critic and entertainment editor before switching to politics, what would become his best-known beat and where his tenacity would become legendary. From there he served as a national correspondent in Atlanta for The New York Times and then as White House correspondent, national political correspondent, Washington bureau chief, and editorial page editor before being named executive editor of the Times in 2001.
But Raines's gift for writing was not confined to newsprint. He published a novel, a memoir about mid-life, and an account of the civil rights movement, changing not only the face of literary nonfiction but also the hearts of those who read his work. This intensely personal touch with which he wrote about civil rights contributed to his wining a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for "Grady's Gift,” a personal reflection about his childhood in Birmingham and a woman named Grady who shaped his life.
Less than a decade later and under his leadership, The New York Times covered the biggest story of our time: September 11. Only days into the job, his office became command central as The Times did the work that won it seven Pulitzers for their coverage, a record by all accounts. To date he has received or been directly linked to nine Pulitzers (that's a touch down and field goal if you're keeping score).
But numbers have never been what Raines is about; he is about style—of words that is. Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution claims he was one of the first stylists. Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize winner for Carry Me Home claims she and any other serious writer of the civil rights movement must begin with the oral memoirs he gathered and explained in My Soul Is Rested. "It's the civil rights Bible,” she said. “He writes like a dream." Part of his dream, personally and professionally, has been to tell the story of history, whether last hour's news conference from the White House or last night's local election results; but, because he cannot be satisfied with half-told stories, he has become known as a sort of Southern-culture street fighter, demanding a complete look at history-in-the-making no matter how unpleasant.
Some say his unflinching perfection and dedication is reminiscent of “The Bear” himself. Certainly he is one of the few, if not the only big-time editor to employ Bearisms to get at larger truths: “If you didn't come to win the national championship,” Paul Bryant told his team, “you're in the wrong place.” Some say Raines did not just quote him; he channeled him.
Raines earned his B.A. from Birmingham Southern College. After graduation in 1964, he served “active duty” with the National Guard and he continued his education at The University of Alabama where he received his Masters in English before striking out for new territory.
His courage of conviction has inspired countless journalists and writers, especially those who could have suffered from a sense of regional inferiority. Raines has never understood inferiority-- in himself or anyone else. His intellect encompasses a depth and breadth uncommon to most and spoken of with awe by those who have known him. He is passionate, gifted, intelligent, determined, and fearless; not to mention shot through with electric energy. And whether under his charge, or watching him charge, it is impossible to deny that this is a man who plays to win. Newsday said first what The Bear would have said, “Roll Howell Roll!”
Morris S. Dees Jr.
Morris Dees is best known for his groundbreaking legal work battling the Klan and other hate groups and for the creation of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-violent organization dedicated to seeking justice.
However, this Shorter, Alabama, native’s first accomplishments were in communication, and his skills as a communicator play a large part in the success of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
An incredibly enterprising student at the University of Alabama, Dees sold birthday cakes for classmates through a mail marketing campaign directed at their parents. Along with partner Millard Fuller, he published a student telephone directory that grew fourfold in two years. It was the beginning of a national publishing company that Dees sold to the parent company of The Los Angeles Times. His publications included Off to College, a nationwide magazine for college- bound students that is still in circulation; Above and Beyond, a 21- volume aerospace encyclopedia created in cooperation with NASA and the Smithsonian; a four volume sex education series still in print and sold in syndication through World Book Encyclopedia, My Weekly Reader, and other major publishers in the family field; The Cookbook Collectors Library; and the Favorite Recipe series.
In addition to serving as chief legal counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center and arguing its most challenging cases against hate groups and supremacist organizations, Dees uses his communication expertise to direct the Center’s educational division. That includes the publication of Teaching Tolerance, a free magazine sent to over 600,000 K-12 teachers; distribution of free kits to over 75,000 schools that include one Oscar winning documentary and three others that have been nominated for the award; Tolerance.org, a web site that takes tolerance education beyond the classroom; Intelligence Report, a magazine reporting on hate groups for law enforcement; and a nationwide capital punishment program called Building Team Defense for lawyers who do death penalty work.
Dees holds two degrees from The University of Alabama and has received numerous humanitarian awards and honorary degrees from colleges and universities throughout the country.
Dees used his direct mail expertise to help fund the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, and he has been inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame for using the mail for business, political, and human rights purposes.
As no other, Dees combines the spirit of the entrepreneur and the humanitarian. And in the vernacular, “He’s got guts.” By targeting hate groups, he has been a target all of his professional life.
Robert B. Ingram Jr.
The stories he can tell about Big Jim Folsom alone would fill a book. Big Jim cutting a birthday cake in the Governor’s mansion with a ceremonial sword…Big Jim hallooing him awake at six in the morning in a Russellville boarding house…an aircraft carrier take-off that won a hearty, loud, and profane endorsement from Big Jim.
Bob Ingram has witnessed so much Alabama history, recorded it, and interpreted it, that he is regarded as an institution by those who love the story of this state.
Born in Centre, Alabama, and a graduate of Cherokee County High, he served in WWII as a radio operator/gunner aboard the USS Panamint, a vessel that endured numerous kamikaze attacks in the Central and South Pacific.
In 1949 he graduated from Auburn University (then Alabama Polytechnic Institute), putting his English major and history minor to good use working for The Cherokee County Herald, The Gadsden Times, and The Montgomery Advertiser.
As a capitol reporter and political columnist for 15 years he had a unique vantage point to witness many of the state’s extraordinary events, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the rise and fall of George C. Wallace.
He was not always on the outside looking in. Governor Albert Brewer appointed Ingram State Finance Director in 1968. He would later write about those experiences, which included picking up a $100,000 political donation from a Nixon lawyer and having a ringside seat in 1970 to one of the most contentious and disheartening elections in the state’s history.
For thirteen years Ingram published ALABAMA magazine in which he reported on the inner workings of the state’s government. He has written a weekly syndicated column published in more than thirty small daily and weekly papers for more than 40 years. He won numerous awards as the longtime editorial director and political analyst for WSFA. Ingram is the author of two books on Alabama politics: That’s the Way I Saw It and That’s the Way I Saw It II. In 1988, the Communications Department of Auburn University in Montgomery established the Robert Ingram Lecture Series, which brings to campus people who have distinguished themselves in the field of communication.
Alabama is richer for Bob Ingram’s keen eye, sharp pen, and legendary objectivity.
And that’s the way we see it.
James T. Stephens
EBSCO Industries, Inc., is the largest subscription agency in the world and the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing lures—a model success story for resourcefulness, imagination, initiative, and creativity.
It is a reflection of the innovative and enterprising leadership of James T. Stephens, one of Alabama’s most gracious and generous business leaders.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Stephens is a product of the public schools. Among the profound experiences of his childhood are the lessons from his parents, Elton and Alys. “Their example taught a mix of commitment, fairness, determination, patience, integrity, kindness, loyalty, and sheer hard work,” says F. Dixon Brooke Jr., vice president and general manager, EBSCO Industries Inc.
Stephens was also deeply affected by his experiences as a Boy Scout, and it is only one of many organizations that has profited from his wise leadership and generous support. He is past president of the board of trustees of Altamont School and Highlands Day School; board member of The University of Alabama Health Services Foundation finance committee; and a member of the board of trustees of Birmingham-Southern College.
A member of the American Library Association, Stephens served as chairman of a very successful campaign in the mid 1990s for the School of Library and Information Studies at The University of Alabama.
Stephens received his undergraduate degree from Yale and an M.B.A. from Harvard. In 1970, after service in the army and eight years working in the family business, he was named C.E.O. of EBSCO, a complex business organization with a diverse mix of companies. He was only 30 years old but his remarkable talents helped EBSCO become the second largest privately owned business in Alabama with 22 companies, 75 profit centers, 4,500 employees, and annual sales in excess of one billion dollars. The company has never had a “loss” year.
EBSCO’S Information Services has two divisions that provide vital resources to libraries. The Subscription Services Division provides 47,000 libraries with subscription services from its title database of 265,000 serial publications. The Publishing Division authors 100,000 abstracts for journal abstracts each month; optically scans and makes electronically searchable 62,000 articles a month; and delivers 50 million page views over the Internet.
“My main hobby is probably my work and trying to meet the challenge of making things work in an organizational environment. That puts you with people. It provides the challenge of whatever organizational mission you are connected with, and that’s a pleasure,” says Stephens.
And indeed for lovers of libraries and information the world over, it is a pleasure to recognize Jim Stephens by induction into the Communication Hall of Fame.
Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler
Just saying her name—Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler—is an Alabama history lesson, bringing to mind one of the state’s industrial giants and its most famous champion of education and reform.
But the U.S. Ambassador to Morocco has created her own history though passionate, thoughtful service to her country as a key player in the administrations of three U.S. Presidents and having worked for a fourth.
During President George H.W. Bush’s administration, Ms. Tutwiler served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs and State Department spokesperson from 1989 to 1992. She traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa and dealt on a daily basis with the issues and policies that faced the region.
Nearly every night on the evening news she spoke with candor, aplomb, and authority on behalf of the State Department. Some journalists contended she was one of the most powerful women in Washington and that her voice and face were as recognized around the world as the president’s.
Ms. Tutwiler told The New York Times she was not powerful, it was only the position that was powerful.
She began her rise during the Reagan administration where she served in the White House as an assistant to Chief of Staff James Baker III and as a deputy assistant to the president for political affairs. In President Reagan’s second term she served in the Treasury Department as assistant secretary for public affairs. Recently Ms. Tutwiler served as a special envoy to the U.S. Office in Iraq to direct media relations during the post-war reconstruction.
She has received numerous awards for public service and is the youngest person ever to be inducted in the Alabama Hall of Honor.
Ms. Tutwiler grew up in Birmingham and graduated from The University of Alabama. She told The Birmingham News that she is reminded of home at her diplomatic post, because Moroccans are like Southerners.
“They are very family oriented, gracious people who invite you into their homes. Manners are important there.”
Ms. Tutwiler’s manners, command of the language, and passion for public service have made her an indispensable government servant.
President George H.W. Bush put it best when he said, “When I was president her service at the State Department with Secretary Baker had no limits. She was wonderful. She's been an outstanding ambassador in Morocco. She’s been strong and represented our country with honor in tough times.”
Gould M. Beech
Later in life, working out of his real estate office in the quaint river town of Magnolia Springs, Alabama, Gould Beech could have been mistaken for a retired Chamber of Commerce president or banker.
It is hard to imagine that he was once branded a “radical” and “dangerous leftist” for the positions he took and was forced from Alabama into political exile in Texas. Today some of his “radical” positions, such as racial equality, have been accepted in his home state. Others, such as reforming the tax code and the constitution, have not.
Born in Florence and raised in Foley and Montgomery, Beech attended The University of Alabama, where he met his future wife, Mary Foster, in a chemistry class. A journalism major, Beech served as editor of The Crimson White. Three other Hall of Fame inductees served under him: Mel Allen, later to become the Voice of the Yankees, Hazel Brannon Smith, first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, and Carroll Kilpatrick of Washington Post fame.
Beech worked at The Anniston Star and then became associate editor at The Montgomery Advertiser, where, under the tutelage of Grover Hall (Hall of Fame inductee 1998), he wrote forceful editorials against racism, the KKK, and in favor of anti-lynching laws.
After serving in World War II, Beech partnered with Aubrey Williams to publish The Southern Farmer magazine and used it to argue for political reforms. He was a confidante of Big Jim Folsom in the 1940s and became a savvy political consultant even before the phrase was coined, helping Folsom articulate his populist message. This made Beech an enemy of powerful Black Belt politicians. When Folsom nominated Beech to the Board of Trustees at Auburn University (nee Alabama Polytechnic Institute), he was attacked by the legislature and denied his seat.
Gould and Mary Beech moved to Houston and continued their work for peaceful integration and on behalf of black candidates. Mr. Beech was instrumental in Barbara Jordan’s first political races. Although once the object of scorn in their home state, the Beeches finally returned because of an abiding love for Alabama. They had a vision for this state, and they paid dearly for it.
“I was cursed or blessed, as the case may be, with being able to see things as they really were in the South,” Beech said. “Even then I was not tempted to leave it.”
Hugo L. Black
He remains one of the First Amendment’s greatest champions.
Hugo Black, raised in Clay County and a 1906 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, practiced law in Birmingham, often representing industrial workers and striking miners. He vowed to win election to the U.S. Senate by age forty, and he did so in 1926. He served as President Franklin Roosevelt’s top lieutenant in the Senate, tirelessly arguing on behalf of New Deal legislation and programs.
He was Roosevelt’s first appointment to the Supreme Court and served for thirty-four years, twenty-six of them as senior justice. His deeply held and cherished beliefs about free speech, individual liberties, racial equality, and trial by jury led him to cast countless votes and write numerous opinions that made him a political pariah in his home state. Never yielding to social pressures, this very Southern justice, whose written opinions often borrowed lines from his favorite hymns, never hesitated to call segregated schools unconstitutional and wrong.
Black demonstrated a great love for the Constitution, and carried a dog-eared copy of it with him so he could quote from it liberally. For Black, nothing would substitute for a literal reading of the revered document. But there was one thing he loved almost as much as the Constitution — a vigorous and spirited game of tennis. He could be found on “the other court” almost daily until his death in 1971 at age 85.
“The American Constitution,” he wrote, “is no accident of history, but it is the evolutionary product of man’s striving throughout past ages to protect himself from tyrannical kings, potentates, and rulers. . . .” “A written constitution was chosen . . . because this was the best way to protect minority rights from the tyranny of the majority.”
In Alabama, liberal democracy has always been a frail creature. Perhaps because of that frailty, Alabama has produced some of its greatest champions, many of whom are represented in the College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame. If anything, Hugo Black is parent to them all. It is fitting that his countenance will now grace the rotunda of the University’s Old Union Building, Reese Phifer Hall.
The Alabama Department of Archives and History was the first state archive in the nation when it was established in 1901. Today, under the visionary leadership of Ed Bridges, it continues as a model for archives, libraries, and institutions that preserve the records and artifacts that tell our nation’s story. “What I have loved most is the intersection of history and current policy, and the way they come together in an archive,” says Bridges.
Born and raised in Bainbridge, Georgia, Bridges nearly followed his father and grandfather in becoming a country doctor. But an extraordinary college professor, the late William Leverett, a native of Selma, became a mentor and gave his pupil an abiding love of history. Bridges received his undergraduate degree at Furman, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at The University of Chicago. He taught at Georgia Tech and did historical research before joining the Georgia Department of Archives and History, eventually becoming assistant director.
In 1982 he became director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the only person from outside the state to hold the position. “In a sense Ed was the quintessential outsider in a state that likes insiders,” says historian Wayne Flynt. “But no one now can think of history in Alabama without thinking of Ed Bridges.”
At the Archives, Bridges modernized the catalog and descriptions of collections, improved reference services, and stressed community outreach. He secured funding for an addition to the building, which will provide much needed space for the interpretation of Alabama’s history.
A respected leader in his field, Bridges helped develop the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Advanced Archival Studies, represented the U.S. in an exchange with archivists from the Soviet Union, has published in journals devoted to archives and history, and served on national and international organizations devoted to archives, libraries, and historical research.
Bridges is also a tremendous asset for his adopted state. His work with Leadership Alabama is a perfect illustration of his talent for placing history in service of public policy. “What Ed has done with his staff is to take the archives out into the community,” says Flynt. “He’s made it a resource in every community in the state
Not surprisingly, others, most recently the Truman Presidential Library, have tried to lure him away. His decision to stay in the state that he has done so much to cultivate is good fortune indeed.
Neil O. Davis
A prestigious Neiman Fellowship to Harvard University had never been awarded to a weekly newspaperman until Neil Davis received one in 1941.
Davis had shown his spirit and backbone even as student editor of The Plainsman at Auburn University. He spoke out clearly and forcefully when the administration attempted to stifle the strong support he had shown for the New Deal in his newspaper. It was not the last time he would be threatened for his independent thinking.
Born in Hartford, Alabama, in 1914, he graduated from Geneva County High School. Nearly half of the 27 graduates went to college. At Auburn he met Henrietta Worsley, a Plainsman associate editor. She became his wife, served as chief reporter and associate editor, and published their paper, The Lee County Bulletin, for the three years he served in World War II.
Davis championed unskilled rural workers, advocated strong public education, and fought against the poll tax, discrimination, and segregation. His well-reasoned and cogent editorials helped convince many in his community that integration was not only inevitable, it was right. In 1964, he purchased The Tuskegee News, and despite criticism and attacks from George Wallace, he continued to irritate and provoke those who clung to the old order.
He served as president of the Alabama Press Association, was an adjunct professor of journalism at Auburn, and was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the Presidential Commission on Rural Poverty. His editorials were twice nominated for Pulitzer Prizes.
“He never did like the new computers and things we brought into the operation,” says Paul Davis, publisher of The Tuskegee News, “but he was on the cutting edge when it came to writing editorials and oftentimes his work would appear in The New York Times and Boston Globe because he was so well respected.”
Lee County, The Tuskegee Institute, and Auburn University in particular are better for Neil Davis having “put down his bucket” where he was. The well he drew from nourished a world of opportunity for generations of Alabamians.
By all rights she should have lived a life of privilege and ease. She was born to Birmingham’s “magic circle.”
However, her life began to change at Wellesley, when this daughter of a Birmingham minister was required to share a table with African-Americans or leave school. She returned home with a broadened perspective. The “deep-eyed Southern bigot,” as she described her youthful self, would become a powerful activist, organizer, and leader in the civil rights movement.
Her sister married Hugo Black, and she married Clifford Durr (Hall of Fame 1998), an attorney who was impressed by her tenacious work in a law library. The Durrs went to Washington when Mr. Durr served in President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. While there, Virginia Durr began her tireless work against the poll tax, a protracted battle for black suffrage that did not end until passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As a founding member of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare in 1938, Mrs. Durr was vilified as a communist agitator by no less than Bull Connor who tried to break up their integrated meeting in Birmingham.
Her criticism of the Korean War cost Mr. Durr his position in Washington, and when the couple returned to Alabama they were outcasts, branded as socialists and worse. In 1954 she was called for questioning before the Senate’s anti-communist subcommittee. When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the back of a Montgomery bus, the Durrs helped bail her out and from the first night of her ordeal offered wise counsel and advice. Mrs. Durr’s “upbringing of privilege did not prohibit her from wanting equality for all people,” Mrs. Parks said upon her friend’s death. “She was a lady and a scholar, and I shall miss her.”
In 1997, Durr received an honorary doctorate from The University of Alabama, where her husband had been a Rhodes Scholar graduate. To the end, Virginia Durr remained a passionate, articulate, and tireless advocate for justice. “The problem is,” she said, “once you open a gate, there’s another and another gate beyond each one. It makes you think you want to live forever....”
Reverend Shuttlesworth was the real leader of the civil rights movement in Alabama,” says attorney and former UA trustee Cleo Thomas.
He was tougher than dynamite. A powerful blast tore apart his Birmingham home, but he emerged from the rubble even more determined to fight for justice. He was brutally beaten by a mob when he tried to enroll his children in an all-white school. Seriously injured when slammed against a wall by the terrible force of a water cannon, he rose from his hospital bed to re-energize the Birmingham movement at its crucial hour. His unyielding quest for justice made him one of the most hated men by those who hid under white robes or behind tarnished badges.
Born in Birmingham and educated at Selma University and Alabama State, he was known as “the cussin’ preacher,” partly because of the fire and passion he brought to his churches. In 1956, he created the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, and the following year he joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
When the movement’s leaders became indecisive or faltered, he prodded them into action. He was an irresistible force that could not be contained, either by Bull Connor, who jailed him for going too far, or by other black leaders who felt he was going too fast. Dr. King called him “the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South.” If King was the movement’s Moses, Shuttlesworth was its Lion of Judah.
The bravest preacher in Birmingham moved to Cincinnati in 1966 where he continues to serve as pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church and remains involved in progressive social initiatives.
“He really sets a high standard for the moral life, for what we can do together,” says Cleo Thomas. “And he did it with such spirit and such zeal and such confidence, such absolute knowledge for the rightness of what he was doing, and fearlessness. And so he stands for goodness. He stands for leading the examined life.”
The man who produced or directed the first 86 episodes of Seinfeld, the most successful situation comedy in the history of television, got his first broadcasting job at The University of Alabama. "I was working at the A&P in Tuscaloosa, but I was looking for something more interesting," Tom Cherones remembers. "When I started at University TV, my pay fell from about 80 cents an hour to 40 cents an hour."
Cherones grew up in downtown Tuscaloosa. His grandfather immigrated to the United States from Greece and opened the Tuscaloosa Café on Broad Street (now University Boulevard). His father was a maintenance engineer at WTBC and operated a radio and TV repair shop in Tuscaloosa.
His first jobs in television may have made him wistful for the glamour of the A&P. "We swept floors, we moved sets, we did everything," Cherones recalls about working in the TV studios on the second floor of the Old Union building — now Reese Phifer Hall. "I worked on Chemistry Can Be Fun with George Toffel, and eventually I was directing productions at the University."
Cherones finished his undergraduate work at the University of New Mexico and after serving as producer and director in Pittsburgh at WQED, one of public television’s flagship stations, he returned to The University of Alabama where he earned a master’s degree in telecommunication and film in 1976. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1965 where, after duty at sea, he was, among other things, assigned to make motion pictures of explosions.
It was apparently the last time he shot a bomb.
In 1975 Cherones moved to Hollywood. His first job was production manager for General Hospital, and since 1975 he has been an independent producer and director for Warner Brothers, ABC-TV, CBS-TV, Paramount, Lorimar, and Mary Tyler Moore Productions. He was also the production manager of Welcome Back Kotter. In 1980 he wrote and produced a movie, Two of Hearts, for cable and public television. He has directed and produced episodes of Caroline in the City, Boston Common, Ellen, Growing Pains, News Radio, and Ladies Man.
Cherones has a reputation for staying calm and running a congenial set in a high-pressure business where tempers flare. "When I produce a show, everyone has his job and everybody is important. If everybody does his job there is no problem."
He has received the Director’s Guild of America Outstanding Comedy Director Award for Seinfeld; an Emmy award for Seinfeld; a Golden Globe award; a Monitor award; The Peabody award; the People’s Choice award; the TV Critics award, and the Christopher award. He has also received six Emmy and three Directors Guild of America award nominations. In 1993 he was presented the College of Communication’s Outstanding Alumnus award.
Cherones even appeared "on camera" as a director in one episode of Seinfeld. The Tuscaloosa News asked him to critique Tom Cherones, the actor.
"Mediocre," he said. "I wouldn’t hire him again."
John Cochran is a consummate broadcast news reporter who has earned a reputation for fairness, accuracy, and objectivity.
Now chief Washington correspondent for ABC NEWS, Cochran was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. He got his first broadcasting job as a student at The University of Alabama when Bert Bank (2000 Hall of Fame inductee) hired him to announce records and read the news at WTBC radio in Tuscaloosa.
But all was not "rock and roll" during his time at the Capstone. Memorable was his insider’s view of President Frank Rose during the Schoolhouse Door crisis precipitated by Governor George Wallace. Also memorable was the camera shot that found Cochran peeking over the shoulder of Dr. Rose in a group photograph that famously included "Bear" Bryant and President John F. Kennedy.
After military service and graduate study at The University of Iowa, Cochran worked as a television reporter and anchor at WSOC-TV in Charlotte and WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. In 1977 he joined NBC News, working first as its Pentagon correspondent and then as chief foreign correspondent from 1977 to 1987. He showed extraordinary courage in his reporting of stories such as the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and the Islamic Revolution. He pursued stories wherever they might be found, even to battlegrounds.
Cochran’s honest reporting angered officials in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, a journalistic diligence that occasionally led to detention and incarceration. He received Emmy awards for his coverage of the Solidarity movement in Poland and the overthrow of the Romanian government. He served as NBC’s chief diplomatic correspondent and chief White House correspondent before joining ABC NEWS as chief Capitol Hill correspondent in 1994. Today he is a frequent reporter and commentator for ABC World News Tonight and other ABC NEWS programs.
John Cochran received the College of Communication’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1977 and its Distinguished Achievement Award in 1989. He also serves on the Board of Visitors for the College of Communication and Information Sciences. In 1999 the University awarded him an honorary doctor of humane letters, where he also received a rare standing ovation for his commencement address. Perhaps his greatest achievement is that despite the revolutionary changes in broadcast news during his twenty-four years as a network reporter, he remains one of the nation’s most trusted correspondents.
"He’s been very good for a very long time," says ABC’s Peter Jennings. "I know because I’ve been his competitor . . . and his editor."
Betsy Plank might be called public relations’ First Lady.
She was the first woman elected president of the Public Relations Society of America, and the first person to receive PRSA’s two top professional honors: the Gold Anvil as the nation’s outstanding professional and the Lund Award for exemplary civic and community service. At Ameritech she was the first female to head a company department, directing external affairs.
Plank credits The University of Alabama for much of her success. She says the Capstone provided an outstanding foundation for her career even though there was no such thing as a public relations major when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1944. "The University gave me those rich disciplines which have served so faithfully throughout a professional lifetime."
Plank served as executive vice president and treasurer of Edelman Public Relations, an international coun-seling firm, and later served as director of public relations planning for AT&T before joining Ameritech (formerly Illinois Bell).
She spent more than seventeen years with Ameritech and it was here that she faced her greatest challenge — shaping and articulating that institution’s response to the divestiture of the Bell System. "We had a couple of years to break up the world’s largest corporation and prepare it without a single missed step," she recalls. "There were many problems. It was fascinating to live through, challenging to prepare for and carry out, and almost twenty years later, the telecommunications industry hasn’t settled down yet."
Plank is dedicated to civic causes in Chicago, such as The Girl Scouts and The United Way’s Crusade of Mercy. She serves on the advisory board of Illinois Issues and as a trustee of the Illinois Council of Economic Education.
Her dedication to public relations education is unexcelled. Northern Illinois University, Ball State University, the University of Texas, Kent State University, and the University of Florida all have honored her for excellence in the field. She co-chaired the 1987 national commission to develop guidelines for the undergraduate public relations curriculum at colleges and universities and is a founding member of PRSA’s College of Fellows, an honorary group of national leaders in public relations.
In 2000 Plank received The Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arthur W. Page Society, a professional organization whose mission is to strengthen the policy-making role of the chief corporate public relations officer. Also that year she was presented the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Distinguished Achievement award, which was renamed in perpetuity the Betsy Plank Distinguished Achievement Award.
"I think public relations is fundamental to a democratic society," she says, explaining that the framers of the constitution were, in a sense, the nation’s first practitioners of public relations. "It’s necessary because people need to be informed, and they need to make intelligent choices. Public relations is the broker of that kind of information."
Kathryn Tucker Windham
Alabamians consider her the state’s best storyteller. Public radio listeners consider her a best friend.
They have found in her a loving companion who shares intimate, evocative memories of swimming holes, penny candy, eccentric neighbors, and lazy days spent counting buzzards and stamping gray mules.
After graduating from Huntingdon College, Kathyrn Tucker Windham became the first woman hired by the Alabama Journal in Montgomery. However, her journalism career began in her hometown of Thomasville where, as a teenager, she wrote movie reviews for her cousin Earl Tucker, the editor of the local newspaper. Though it was a small town, she lived a large life and shares its wonders through her richly textured stories and essays. And it was there, with a giveaway drugstore Brownie camera, that this accomplished photographer snapped her first pictures. Today her photos are exhibited in galleries and museums.
She served as reporter, photographer, and state editor for the Birmingham News and reporter, city editor, state editor, and associate editor for the Selma Times Journal. She promoted statewide war bond drives during WWII and was community service planner for the Area Agency on Aging in Camden, Alabama.
She had never really told stories until a surprise invitation to speak at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee. Now she is a fixture at that event and appears at numerous other festivals in the United States and abroad. Her ghost stories, which she first collected in Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, have been favorites for generations of schoolchildren. Her thoughtful and poignant stories about growing up and living in the South secured her an audience of all ages when she was featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and her commentaries are still heard every Friday morning on Alabama Public Radio.
In her many books she has remembered the fascinating yet largely forgotten lives of the people in isolated and insular Gee’s Bend, Alabama; she’s preserved treasured family recipes and documented rich, compelling stories, legends, and folkways from Alabama’s past. In a one-woman play she rescued the legacy of Julia Tutwiler, one of Alabama’s greatest citizens and reformers.
Writing from her home in Selma, looking out upon her bottle trees, she has little interest in e-mail and cell phones, and won’t hear of plugging in an answering machine. Still, she accomplished something in her stories that cannot be duplicated by the most sophisticated machines. "I think storytelling is a way of saying ‘I love you,’ she explains.
"I love you enough to tell you something that means a great deal to me."
His grandfather started the paper; his father, Harry Mell Ayers, affectionately known as the Colonel, made it a staple of regional culture by bringing the world to Anniston. But the most valuable legacy passed along to Brandt Ayers, editor and publisher of The Anniston Star, may well be the paper’s philosophy: "To afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted."
Ayers’s commitment to "community journalism" long pre-dated its current vogue as a way of restoring press credibility. As a result, the Columbia Journalism Review recently ranked The Anniston Star among the 35 best newspapers in the nation. Time magazine has twice named it "one of the best small newspapers in the United States." Little wonder that scores of graduates from the country’s leading journalism schools submit applications when there is an opening in Ayers’s newsroom.
"It’s that rare combination of a community paper that has a world view, and that’s hard to find," says Hodding Carter III, head of the Knight Foundation.
Ayers is also a gifted writer and reporter. He writes with authority, compassion, and conviction. His articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and many other papers and magazines. Over 30 newspapers carry his syndicated column, "Out Here." He has co-authored or contributed chapters to five books, including Dixie Dateline: A Journalistic Portrait of the Contemporary South and the highly acclaimed You Can’t Eat Magnolias. He is also a frequent commentator for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. One cannot now imagine the Progressive South without Brandt Ayers’s inimitable voice and the eloquent appeal of his reason.
He has been honored as one of The University of Alabama’s distinguished journalism graduates, received a Nieman fellowship to Harvard University, served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, and received an honorary doctorate from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. His global reach is evidenced by his active involvement in the Inter-American Press Association, the Southern Center for International Studies, and the American Committee of the International Press Institute.
Brandt Ayers occasionally quips that his principal assets are nepotism and monopoly. Although his debt to his forebears is considerable, it has been paid in full. For while his father brought the world to Anniston, Brandt Ayers has taken The Anniston Star and, with it, his region to the world. The Colonel, an original inductee into this Hall of Fame, surely smiles.
Behind Bert Bank’s many accomplishments and honors is a commitment to service.
After graduating from The University of Alabama and receiving a law degree in 1940, he served his country with valor and distinction in World War II. Bank survived the torturous Bataan Death March and 33 brutal months as a prisoner of war. For him, patriotism is more than a word.
In 1946, Bank returned to his hometown of Tuscaloosa and became owner and manager of WTBC and WUOA radio stations. These enterprises provided more than entertaining and informative programming for the community. Scores of University of Alabama students – many of whom would go on to distinguished careers in broadcasting and communication – got their start with Bert Bank. Without his assistance, some would not have been able to remain in school.
Bank also served his community and state. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives for two terms and to the Alabama Senate for one term. He served as floor leader in the administrations of Governors George Wallace, Lurleen Wallace, and Albert Brewer and is still remembered for sponsoring significant health care legislation.
When Paul "Bear" Bryant answered the now-famous "call" home, he turned to Bert Bank to assemble the radio network that would broadcast the triumphs of the Crimson Tide and help re-establish statewide support for a troubled program. Now, more than 40 years later, Bert Bank still serves as producer emeritus for radio broadcasts of University football and basketball games.
Bank has inspired many through his patriotism, citizenship, and commitment to his alma mater. He established The Bert Bank Endowed Patriotism Scholarship Fund at The University of Alabama for students of impeccable moral character who have demonstrated an abiding love of country and a deep sense of responsibility and loyalty to the nation’s institutions and ideals. The College of Communication and Information Sciences has recognized him both for Distinguished Service and as Outstanding Alumnus, and the student radio station proudly bears his name. He also served as president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association and, last year, the ABA honored him with its Lifetime Membership Award.
John Cochran, a graduate of The University of Alabama and White House correspondent for ABC television, speaking with great affection for the man who gave him his first job, said, "Bert Bank is a man whose blood runs red, white, and blue. But on fall Saturdays, the red is a little more crimson."
James Buford Boone
James Buford Boone Jr. is chairman of the board and a director of Boone
Newspapers Inc., which owns and manages newspapers and shopping guides in Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. These newspapers have been recognized as among the best managed in the industry. Although singularly successful, Jim Boone would credit two Communication Hall of Fame inductees as major influences in his career.
His father, Buford Boone, the courageous and principled publisher of The Tuscaloosa News and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished editorial writing, is obvious. He made impassioned pleas for justice and reason when the first attempt was made to integrate The University of Alabama. Jim Boone grew up well acquainted with the challenges that com e from being an independent, committed, and fair-minded newspaperman.
Jim’s mentor, Carmage Walls, a Hall of Fame honoree last year, was a genius among newspaper publishers and a superb creator of acquisitions. He guided both Buford and Jim, navigating Jim through the intricacies and opportunities of the industry. After graduating from UA, Jim served at various papers owned by Walls in Georgia, Texas, and Virginia. He then returned to his hometown in 1968 on Walls’s suggestion and purchased controlling interest from Buford in Tuscaloosa Newspapers Inc., which published The Tuscaloosa News under lease from Public Welfare Foundation.
Jim began acquiring newspapers, often building their value by making dailies out of weeklies. "We seek to produce the highest-quality product that the economics of the community served can support," Boone explains. "And then, by ingenuity and imagination, we strive for a higher quality in an effort to serve and build that community."
His commitment to his own community is evident in the many boards, organizations, and institutions he supports, advises, or leads. They include hospitals, schools, banks, the chamber of commerce, and press associations. But the assistance he has provided The University of Alabama is without,parallel. He serves on the President’s Cabinet and the National Advisory Board, and was a member of the steering committee for the highly successful Campaign for Alabama. He is a member of the board of visitors for both the College of Communication and Information Sciences and the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration. In recognition of his wise counsel and unstinting service, The University of Alabama presented him its Tutwiler Award and the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.
Boone’s business philosophy is as principled as it is simple. He writes: "Our aim, when our product is compared to another’s in a comparable market, is to be judged superior. The communities we serve deserve no less, and doing so is vital to the future of that community and our company."
Emory Cunningham often said the secret of his success was treating readers like neighbors.
When he died in January of this year, more than two million "neighbors" each month read Southern Living, the unique magazine Cunningham conceived and developed. Since its inception in 1966, Southern Living has reflected Cunningham’s love of his region, his belief in its potential, and his devotion to its natural beauty.
The son of a farmer and a teacher, Cunningham was raised on a farm northwest of Birmingham. After serving as a navy pilot in World War II and receiving an agricultural degree from Auburn University, he joined the sales staff of Progressive Farmer, the leading farm magazine in the South. He broke one sales record after another, rose through the ranks, and eventually became the magazine’s publisher.
But he knew there was more to the South than its rural landscape. It was a land of thriving business districts and sophisticated workers, a land of tidy suburban houses bordered by azaleas that blazed in the spring. He knew its people loved good times and good food and that they saved and shared recipes and stories with equal enthusiasm. Cunningham was determined to capture this New South spirit in a magazine and present it to the nation.
Southern Living was a publishing phenomenon. On its tenth anniversary, the United States Magazine Publishers named Cunningham publisher of the year. His company, Southern Progress, became the world’s largest regional publisher. "To call Emory Cunningham merely the most successful publisher of regional magazines in the United States is to slight a shining career," said Reginald Brack Jr., the president of Time’s magazine group when it purchased Southern Progress. Cunningham became a vice president for Time Inc.
Devoted to his community, state, and profession, Cunningham served on countless boards and held offices in numerous organizations. He was a great friend to higher education in Alabama. A member of the Auburn Board of Trustees, he was also a member of the President’s Cabinet at The University of Alabama. A devoted ecologist before it became fashionable, he traveled the world to study agricultural practices. The Southern Progress headquarters in Birmingham, built under his direction, earned high marks for its striking design and the way it showcases the natural environment.
"My father was a modern-day Southern gentleman," David Cunningham wrote. "He looked at the South and his Southern heritage with a positive light. He was as comfortable in a boardroom as he was on a stream bank. He was a naturalist who rarely missed the symphony. He cherished his family, but loved all people. He could talk but would rather listen. He loved history but didn’t dwell on the past.
"His vision looked forward, forward to a bright and shining Southern future."
Barrett C. Shelton, Jr.
The Decatur Daily. The very name implies a contract with its readers, a guarantee of reliability and consistency. And one constant in the family behind this paper is visionary leadership.
Publisher Barrett C. Shelton Jr. shares many of his father’s memorable attributes. The paper’s long-running success attests to both father’s and son’s creativity and imagination. The combination of foresight and action enabled the father – an inductee into the inaugural Hall of Fame – to make The Decatur Daily a full partner in the unprecedented economic transformation of the Tennessee Valley.
On assuming leadership of the paper in 1984, Shelton Jr. took the editorial page in new directions, even advocating unpopular causes and candidates when necessary, but always imbuing the paper with fundamental values and a commitment to community. He understands his role as publisher, and has thoughtfully and deliberately removed himself from the daily operations of the newsroom. "Editors would say he’s a good publisher," says Tom Wright, editorial page editor. "He doesn’t want any surprises, of course, but he allows us to put out an excellent newspaper."
Also like his father, he has been an influential and effective leader. Since the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s, The Decatur Daily has been a champion for the region and its people, encouraging expansion, development, and education. Shelton’s hand is still evident in Decatur’s continuing progress, as in the new Boeing rocket booster plant, one of the nation’s most sought-after industrial prizes.
A graduate of the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration at The University of Alabama, Shelton is a past chairman of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce and presided over both the Alabama Press Association and the University’s National Alumni Association. Shelton also serves on the board of visitors for both the College of Communication and Information Sciences and the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration. His leadership on civic, religious, educational, and professional boards is evidence in abundance of a man committed to service.
Although Shelton is a vigorous and tireless com-munity advocate, he appreciates the role of the newspaper in a democracy. The Decatur Daily has occasionally disturbed readers by refusing to back away from controversial investigations and reports. "We support the community," says Wright, "but there are no sacred cows."
Barrett Shelton Jr. prefers to work behind the scenes. But as many in the community will attest, when he gets involved, things happen.
Julius E. Talton
Julius E. Talton is a visionary broadcaster and telecommunications entrepreneur and an exceedingly generous citizen of his community and state.
Born in Montgomery and raised in Selma, Talton worked his way through The University of Alabama. After graduating with a degree in broadcasting, he served for five years as a pilot in the Strategic Air Command and then began a successful career in sales at WAPI in Birmingham, becoming sales manager in just three years.
In 1961 he formed Talton Broadcasting Company and purchased radio stations WHBB and WTUN in Selma. "His stations were ahead of the curve," explains longtime friend Jamie Wallace, president of the Selma—Dallas County Chamber of Commerce. "He operated them as if they were big market stations. His commitment to the community was especially evident in his news and public affairs programming. He said anyone can play music. It’s the other things that make a difference."
Talton anticipated a world in which location would not be the crucial factor in a telecommunication company’s success. In 1973 Talton Communications Corporation was formed and became a leader in the burgeoning mobile telephone and pager industries. His companies purchased additional radio stations, continued to grow, and became involved in outdoor advertising.
"Julius Talton is a strong communicator," says Allen Collins, a UA classmate and business associate. "People are loyal to him because he’s loyal to them." Time and again Talton has demonstrated his loyalty to his hometown, leading the chamber of commerce, Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, Selma City School Board, and Salvation Army, among others. His support has made possible the renovation of the highly acclaimed public library and his contributions have helped Selma’s Tale-Telling Festival become one of the area’s cultural highlights. He’s been active in professional organizations and served as president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association.
He is equally committed to his alma mater. He served The University of Alabama as National Alumni Association president and was named a Sesquicentennial Honorary Professor in the College of Communication and an Outstanding Alumnus of its Department of Telecommunication and Film. He is a member of the President’s Cabinet and serves on the College of Communication and Information Sciences Board of Visitors. He has been unfailingly generous in answering each and every call for service and counsel.
"He’s worked hard, he’s been a leader, and he’s never asked anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself," says Collins.
Carl Elliott never taught in a class-room, but millions of Americans owe their education to him.
As a United States congressman, he drafted legislation that enabled 1.5 million Americans to borrow three billion dollars from the federal government to further their education. Because he believed, like Thomas Jefferson, that it was never intended for a democracy to be run by ignorant people, he used his power in Washington to persuade the federal government to support local libraries. "There is a federal responsibility for libraries just as certain as there is a federal responsibility for schools and colleges and equipment for the teaching of sciences."
Elliott, who in 1990 received the first Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, came from humble origins. Raised in poverty-stricken north Alabama, he arrived at The University of Alabama with three dollars in his pocket and spent his first night on campus sleeping under a truck. Unable to afford tuition, he attended classes anyway, waiting tables and sweeping floors for money.
After graduation he returned home to eke out a living as a lawyer during the Depression. He loved northwest Alabama and would later research and write its history. But he had bigger dreams, inspired by a legendary congressman.
"Well, it had always been my ambition to run for congress," Elliott recalled. "When I was eight years old, my father carried me to hear Will Bankhead in Vina, Alabama."
Elected to his first term in 1949, Elliott came to believe that the federal government must fund public education, something it had never done. For years he sponsored such legislation, but it passed only after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. Elliott persuaded others that a strong educational system was crucial to the nation’s defense. His legislation built libraries and schools, and pumped millions of dollars into science and technology.
"If I’m to be judged by anything I did in congress I’d rather be judged by that," said Elliott.
When declining census figures required that Alabama give up one of its congressional seats in 1964, Elliott’s was targeted because of his moderate views on race. He lost the bitter 1966 gubernatorial election when his opponents exploited fears about Elliott’s stand on civil rights. Still, he never apologized for the progressive views that cost him his life’s work.
"Some say I was ahead of my time, but they were wrong," Elliot explained. "I was always behind the times that ought to be."
Many broadcast pioneers worked magic with equipment. Elmo Ellis worked magic with people.
At Atlanta’s famed WSB radio, he created a station that became known simply as the Voice of the South. Other radio moguls strove to connect stations and build networks. Ellis dedicated himself to connecting people and fashioned a clear-channel, 50,000-watt "neighborhood" that spoke for the region. When the experts were proclaiming television’s inevitable stranglehold on the medium, he devised "170 Ways to Get the Rust out of Radio." He fostered a community of listeners and personable entertainers who offered news, sports, weather, music, jokes, puzzles, poetry, science, editorials, and book reviews. "We revived the radio family but we modernized it and made it more personal than television," he said.
He’s been a part of remarkable communities all his life. Raised in West Blocton, Alabama, Ellis was a member of the small but thriving Jewish congregation in that bustling mining town. He found his calling at the age of 13 when he won a writing contest sponsored by The Birmingham News. He prospered under the tutelage of gifted teachers at The University of Alabama in the late 1930s and became the only person to serve as editor of all three major student publications: The Rammer-Jammer, The Crimson White, and the Corolla.
Like his cousin, Mel Allen, who would become the celebrated Voice of the Yankees, Ellis went to work in radio after graduating in 1940. A prolific scriptwriter, he became the Voice of WSB. He helped sign-on WSB-TV, the first television station in the South, and might have remained there had the needs of radio not brought him back.
Radio is only one of his careers. He’s also a broadcasting consultant, a gifted motivational speaker, the author of a shelf full of inspirational books, and a past and present board member of more than two dozen charities and philanthropic institutions, including the College’s Board of Visitors. Named a Distinguished Alumnus by his alma mater in 1993, he also received an honorary doctorate from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.
All his life he has created and supported all kinds of communities. "Man’s highest aspirations haven’t changed," he wrote. "His hope is to be better than he is, and his dream is to make the world a better place."
Nothing is more vital to the democratic arts than spirited and lively debate, and few have been as vital to the study and practice of debate as Annabel Hagood, a towering figure in intercollegiate forensics.
The continuing success that The University of Alabama enjoys in speech and debate is the legacy of her leadership. During a 41-year career at the Capstone, she taught and influenced generations of students who became dynamic leaders in law, business, education, and government.
Born in Mississippi and educated at Southwest Louisiana Institute and the University of Wisconsin, Ms. Hagood was only 22 years old when she came to the University in 1946 as director of Forensics. Within three years, the debate team she coached won a national championship. Under her leadership, University of Alabama students earned 193 individual and team championships at the regional level and 23 national titles.
Ms. Hagood chaired the Department of Speech Communication for eleven years. She played a vital role in organizing and structuring the Faculty Senate and served as its first president. That body presented her with the Distinguished Service Award in 1986, the same year she received the Alabama Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award.
Her influence goes far beyond Tuscaloosa. She was president of the American Forensic Association and twice served as president of Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha, the honor societies whose merger she brought about. She was an adviser to the organizers of the historic Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates, and recently served on a U.S. Army commission charged with examining the role of women in the military.
After retiring in 1987, Professor Hagood has been president of her own communication consulting firm, Hagood and Associates. She’s also been an integral part of SCORE, a national program where seniors volunteer their expertise to small business owners.
In 1997, fifty years after Annabel Hagood’s first year at the Capstone, the University bestowed an honorary doctorate upon her in recognition of her distinguished career. One of her first championship debaters described that career best: "She was dynamic, energetic, fiercely competitive, superbly gifted. A great debate coach."
Bob Luckie created and directed the first advertising agency in Alabama that brought major, prestigious accounts to the state. He was also responsible for perhaps the most famous and effective television ad ever seen in Alabama.
Born in Clanton and raised in Montgomery, Luckie attended Birmingham-Southern College and, as a student writer for the school’s publicity office, received ten cents for every column inch he placed in the Birmingham papers. His predecessors made about $35 a month. Luckie didn’t think he could live on that and soon was earning $200 a month.
He had found his calling.
After serving as a communications officer in the Pacific with Admiral Chester Nimitz during World War II, Luckie returned to a job he had with The Birmingham News, working in both the editorial and advertising departments. "I wouldn’t take anything for my reportorial experience," says Luckie, but he wanted something different and made a bold professional change when he formed an advertising agency in 1953. Robert Luckie & Co. astounded the fledgling local industry by quickly securing
R. L. Ziegler, a major account. When an Atlanta agency stumbled with South Central Bell, Luckie brought that coveted account to Alabama. It was the beginning of a long association that yielded prize-winning advertisements, the most memorable of which featured Bear Bryant extolling the virtues of long distance and lamenting that he could no longer call his mama.
In 1964, the company he founded became Luckie & Forney Inc., when Hall of Famer John Forney joined the agency. Bob Luckie holds numerous awards and honors, and his agency has won the Clio, the advertising Oscar. In 1963, he was named Birmingham’s Advertising Man of the Year. That same year he received the Advertising Federation of America’s Printers Ink Silver Medal Award.
A member of the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame, he’s long been a vital part of his community, serving as an officer or board member for organizations such as the UAB School of Nursing, the Metropolitan Development Board, Birmingham-Southern College, United Way, and our own Board of Visitors. He’s shared with many the wise counsel and clear vision that enabled him to start a company that transformed the advertising industry in Alabama.
"If I had known how little I really knew, I probably wouldn’t have left the womb of The Birmingham News," he recalls. "But it worked out." Indeed, it did.
"Spend less money than you take in." Carmage Walls’s formula for making a profit was, by his own admission, ridiculously simple. What he really made, though, was opportunity. And he offered it to the dozens of young newspaper publishers and owners he mentored.
He left school in the tenth grade to help support his family. His newspaper career began at age 15, catching papers as they came off the press at The Orlando Sentinel-Star. After taking correspondence courses, he worked his way up to a job as the paper’s bookkeeper and so impressed his superiors he was made general manager of the Macon Telegraph and News in 1932.
"My conception of a newspaper is that it is the greatest force for good or evil in a community," he wrote. "We who are fortunate in holding stock in a newspaper I consider but temporary custodians of this service vehicle for the community. By our ownership of the stock, we also assume tremendous responsibilities, first to the public that we serve, second to the employees, and lastly to the stockholders."
He was a master at putting newspapers to work for the community. He owned the Montgomery Advertiser with Gene Worrell during the civil rights era and opposed Governor George Wallace’s divisive politics. He also ended the paper’s practice of segregating the news of blacks and whites. Two of Alabama’s four Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists – Buford Boone at The Tuscaloosa News and Harold Martin at the Advertiser – had been placed in their positions by Walls.
His acute business sense and remarkable grasp of tax law made him one of the most successful newspapermen in the South. He established for his mentor, Charles E. Marsh, the Public Welfare Foundation (PWF), which owned The Gadsden Times, The Tuscaloosa News, and The Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald Journal, all three of which were later sold by PWF. Walls also owned papers in Enterprise, Florence, and Prattville, founded an investment company, and created the forerunner of Southern Newspapers Inc., which is owned by his family.
Today, Southern Newspapers Inc. owns the Alabama newspapers The Scottsboro Daily Sentinel, The Weekly Post (Rainsville), and The Sand Mountain Reporter (Albertville). Members of the Walls family also own the Fort Payne Times-Journal, the Valley-Times News in Lanett, and the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper.
Walls was proud of the system he developed to buy papers and help young publishers move into ownership. By sharing this system, he launched the careers of seventy-five publishers, twenty-four of whom became millionaires.
He was such a successful businessman – a superb creator of deals and acquisitions – that his dedication to the public interest might be overlooked. But not by those who knew him best. "The truth is that he was a master at putting a newspaper to community service," says Jim Boone.
Edward O. Wilson
In his memoir, Naturalist, Edward O. Wilson wrote, "The University of Alabama saved me. . . [It] was and is the home of first-rate scholars and teachers, and of abounding opportunities for students who come there, as I did in 1946, to learn about the world, to enter a profession, and, if you will permit an old-fashioned expression, to make something of themselves."
A native Alabamian, Ed Wilson grew up along the Gulf Coast, schooling himself in natural history during solitary excursions into the woodlands near his home. He graduated in 1949 from Alabama, then took his doctorate from Harvard, where he remained to teach biology.
He has won two Pulitzer Prizes and is one of the founders of the science of sociobiology. His argument that social behaviors have genetic components has changed the study of human behavior and generated plenty of controversy. Wilson defies categorization. His specialty is the social life of ants, but his wider reputation comes from the grace and clarity of his writing about the human condition.
"I like to think of myself down deep as a Southern writer who got detoured into science. That’s how I most like to celebrate natural history and scientific discovery as a writer who wraps it all up."
In 1996, Time magazine included Wilson among its 25 Most Influential Americans. He has received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science and 24 honorary degrees from universities in America and overseas.
He is the author or co-author of 23 books and 350 scholarly articles. His latest book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, is an impassioned appeal for the union of science and the humanities.
His message is for a world "drowning in information, while starving for wisdom."
Mel Allen is as much a part of the national pastime as the squeeze play, hot dogs, and pennants flapping in the breeze. And he never even played in the big leagues. Instead he called the games, and that allowed fans to play the games over and over in their minds. His voice is the voice that millions of fans associate with baseball.
Born Melvin Israel, the son of a traveling textile representative in Birmingham, and raised all over Alabama, he was a spindly student manager of the football team when he got the chance to announce games. While a student at The University of Alabama, he sold shoes, coached speech and debate, and ultimately earned his law degree before winning an audition to announce in New York for CBS Radio.
He was the Voice of the Yankees from 1939 to 1964, the team that aroused more passion than any other in baseball. With his vivid phrases and pleasing Alabama drawl, he called many of the great events in the game: the Babe's good-bye, Larsen's perfect game in the series, Mantle's heroics, Maris's record-shattering summer, Casey's barbs, Yogi's convoluted pronouncements.
In an era before television, millions of radio listeners around the nation saw the game through the descriptions of this thoughtful and articulate Alabamian who prided himself on being both a reporter and a storyteller. He returned as the Voice of the Yankees in the 1970s and began a 19-year association with This Week in Baseball as host of the popular program.
Once he sat next to a weakened Lou Gehrig in the dugout before a game. The Yankee Clipper would soon die from the disease that had forced his emotional, early farewell from the game. "Mel, sometimes your descriptions of the game are the only thing that keeps me going." Mel went into the tunnel and cried like a baby.
How about that?
Graydon Ausmus didn't use a crystal ball when he peered into the future.
Instead he realized a rectangular piece of glass would be the key to sending informational, educational, and stimulating programs to every household in the nation.
Ausmus came to The University of Alabama in 1949 as director of broadcast services when broadcasting meant only radio. He also served as a professor in the College of Education. With his vision and leadership, six years later Alabama established the nation's first educational television network - a vital step in the development of public television.
Educated at Texas Tech and the University of Texas, Ausmus put WUOA, the University's first radio station, on the air in 1949. He produced a popular and innovative radio drama, The Peter T. Allens, which chronicled how a fictional family was raising its children. With his assistance, The University of Alabama received $100,000 from the Ford Foundation to build the first TV studio on campus, and under his direction the University broadcast the first full-length opera televised in the United States.
Ausmus saw television as a remarkable way of bringing dynamic educational programs into Alabama classrooms. Most people remember him as a man who never accepted being second best. In fact, Ausmus and his staff prided themselves as pioneers, and in 1959, they put into service the first videotape recorder in the state of Alabama.
Today the broadcasting organization he created has evolved into the University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio, producing programs that are broadcast to national audiences. Documentaries produced at the center recently won Emmy awards; its instructional programs are seen by more than 170,000 students in the United States and Canada.
Ausmus helped imagine educational television, attended its birth, and nurtured its development. The vision and resolve he demonstrated at The University of Alabama helped shape the most powerful and pervasive medium of this century.
The son of a missionary to China, Harry Ayers successfully managed a gubernatorial campaign, served on the state board of education, received the army's second highest decoration awarded to civilians, and was offered the ambassadorship to Denmark by President Truman.
Most importantly, he published a local newspaper that was truly a window on the world.
Today The Anniston Star is regarded as one of the nation's most innovative and provocative small-town daily newspapers. With its national reputation, the Star is a training ground where many of the country's brightest journalists get their first jobs.
Ayers grew up in the offices of his family's newspaper, and upon graduation from high school, he accepted a job at the Anniston Evening Star. He was soon fired - he freelanced so much he made more money than the editor. Eventually he purchased two Anniston papers and began a career as an editor and a publisher that would last more than fifty years.
After his death, his son, H. Brandt Ayers, said in testimonial to his father, "He was daringly ahead of his time as an advocate of more equitable race relations. He was an internationalist . . . above all he was a man who could handle the intoxicating stuff of power. He used power lightly, not as an offensive weapon, but more as a shield."
"A newspaper must be the attorney for the most defenseless among its subscribers," Harry M. Ayers wrote, and this principle guided him throughout his journalism career. This philosophy also distinguished him from his competitors. Because he never wavered, or backed down from a fight, or needlessly provoked one, his newspaper, still family-owned, continues to thrive, continues to speak with authority and passion, and continues to educate its readers about their world.
Ever since I read your editorial, I have had an unspeakable admiration for you," read the letter. "The moral courage and profound dignity you have evinced in so many situations will long be remembered."
The year was 1957. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that letter and mailed it to a newspaper editor in a small southern col-lege town who was urging his readers to comply with a federal court order to integrate The University of Alabama.
Buford Boone, editor and publisher of The Tuscaloosa News, would win a Pulitzer Prize for his courageous editorials. A former FBI special agent, Boone had the utmost respect for the law of the land - and the nation's highest court declared that schools must be integrated. Boone spoke out forcefully and eloquently when a campus mob attacked Autherine Lucy and prevented her from becoming the first black student at Alabama.
"What does it mean today at The University of Alabama, and here in Tuscaloosa, to have the law on your side?," he wrote in a bold editorial. "The answer has to be: Nothing - that is, if the mob disagrees with you and the courts."
His editorial was widely reprinted in northern newspapers. There were telegrams from those who admired his convictions. But in Tuscaloosa he faced threats and canceled subscriptions, and a brick shattered a window of his home. Boone, however, would not be silenced. He relentlessly criticized a Klan leader whom he characterized as "a sickly looking, pitiable little man . . . a human jackal."
Buford Boone served The University of Alabama, this state, and the nation by displaying remarkable strength in a troubling time. Thanks in part to him, Alabama's schools were ultimately open to all of its citizens. It might have taken much longer had not been not been for this brave newspaper editor with strong convictions and the courage to state them.
Anyone who has profited from The University of Alabama's Department of Journalism - whether they are graduates of the program or among the millions of people who read the news-papers, magazines, and books that our graduates write, edit, and publish - owes a debt of gratitude to Clarence Cason.
Cason founded the Department of Journalism at The University of Alabama in 1928. He possessed a clear, strong vision of the elements necessary to enable journalism to thrive and prosper in the twentieth century. He brought to the Capstone the highest professional and academic standards. A 1917 graduate of The University of Alabama, he earned a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin and taught at the University of Minnesota before returning to his alma mater. He also wrote for many distinguished newspapers and magazines - a practice he continued as a professor at Alabama.
Cason argued that universities should educate aspiring journalists to be both intellectually and professionally proficient. He wanted the Department of Journalism to participate actively in academic life, while elevating its discipline to a respected place in the liberal arts. Within a few years, Cason enjoyed the admiration of professional journalists, who considered him to be one of their own fraternity.
Indeed, the crowning achievement of his career, just prior to his death in 1935, was the publication of his book 90 Degrees in the Shade, in which he looked critically but lovingly at his native state and region. The University of Alabama republished the book in 1983 and it remains on college reading lists today.
As a result of one Alabamian's tireless commitment to the public interest, everyday more than 2,000 noncommercial radio stations and 350 noncommercial television stations broadcast in the United States.
Clifford Durr was born in Montgomery. After graduation from The University of Alabama as a Rhodes Scholar and a short career in private practice, Durr became a rising star in the New Deal as legal counsel for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Safe-guarding the public interest was his paramount concern. Durr brought this concern to the first Federal Communications Commission after President Roosevelt appointed him commissioner in 1941.
Durr became a vigorous advocate of breaking down the control that a few large networks and corporations held over the broadcasting industry. The airwaves belong to the people, he often reminded his fellow commissioners, and he strongly believed broadcasters must serve not only their stockholders but also the public. He insisted on quality and breadth in programming and fought to reserve frequencies for educational and community use. Durr demanded better programming and fewer commercials and endorsed a controversial plan that made broadcast license renewals contingent on demonstrated concern for quality programming.
Durr's struggle for a more democratic broadcasting system operating in the public interest paralleled his fight to preserve civil liberties for all Americans. His battle to win constitutional rights guaranteed under the First Amendment began as a federal employee in Washington and lasted until his death in 1975. His tireless work for a more democratic broadcasting system was an important part of that struggle.
It was also to him that Rosa Parks turned when she refused to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery bus. He was truly freedom's counselor.
John Forney will always be remembered as the Voice of the Crimson Tide. When Alabama fans review the great plays in their minds - the Bear's 315th win, the Run in the Mud, the legendary goal-line stand - they'll hear John's play-by-play.
For 30 years he was a member of the Alabama Football Network broadcast team and served as co-host of the weekly television shows with Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings.
Born in California and raised in Tuscaloosa, Forney was president of his senior class in high school and secretary-treasurer of the student government at The University of Alabama. After serving in the navy, he moved to New York, worked for an ad agency, and assisted in the production of The Hit Parade with Snooky Lansom when live television was still being invented.
But his blood ran crimson. After all, his uncle, Richard Clarke Foster, had served as president of The University of Alabama. So Forney returned to Birmingham where he joined what would become the state's most successful advertising agency, Luckie and Forney. In 1953, his career in broadcasting Alabama football began.
Despite his busy schedule traveling with the Crimson Tide, Forney was committed to many civic causes, serving on numerous boards and in dozens of organizations including the Red Cross, the Children's Aid Society, the Crippled Children's Clinic Foundation, and Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital.
John Forney was best known for his voice, but he was also a talented writer and studied fiction under Hudson Strode, the esteemed UA writing teacher. Forney published three books and served for many years on the board of the Birmingham-Southern Writer's Conference.
In a state where people live and die by the bounce of a football, moments and plays from our favorite games are enshrined in the museum of our minds. John Forney's reassuring voice will always be heard whenever we spend time with those memories.
Two acronyms will always be associated with Kenneth Gid-dens. The first, WKRG, the Mobile-based radio and TV operation he created and directed, became one of the finest broadcast operations in the South.
The second is VOA, the Voice of America. From 1969 to 1974 - a time when the nation faced one of its greatest periods of turmoil and upheaval - Giddens was charged with the responsibility of running the agency to which 43 million people around the world turned for information about the United States. His predecessors included Edward R. Murrow and John Chancellor. Like them, Giddens was entrusted with one of the most important elements of U.S. foreign policy.
Born in Pine Apple, Alabama, and educated at Auburn University, Giddens used his architectural training to build a three-state chain of theaters. He became interested in broadcasting while buying radio ads for his theaters, and with his family, organized and founded WKRG. He was a partner and developer of Bel Air Mall in Mobile, the city's first air-conditioned, enclosed mall.
A past president of the National Broadcasters Association and a member of its international committee, Giddens also served as president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association as well as on the boards of numerous civic organizations, both locally and nationally.
Kenneth Giddens will be remembered for his many contributions to Alabama and the nation through his outstanding leadership as a businessman, broadcaster, and public servant.
Amelia Gayle Gorgas
Amelia Gorgas served the University of Alabama as a hospital matron, librarian, and postmistress for 25 years until her retirement at age 80 in 1907. She was the first female librarian on campus, and the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library was the first academic building at the University named for a woman.
Historian James B. Sellers asserts that "Amelia Gayle Gorgas was . . . the first woman to set the imprint of her personality on the growing University."
Born in Greensboro, Alabama, in 1826, she graduated with honors from the Columbia Female Institute in Tennessee and, in 1853, married General Josiah Gorgas. After a distinguished military career, he served as president of The University of Alabama. Due to failing health, Gorgas resigned in 1879, at which time the position of University librarian was created for him.
At the same time, Amelia, then in her mid-fifties, was appointed hospital matron, nursing sick students in what is known today as the Gorgas House. After Josiah's death in 1883, she assumed the duties of librarian and was also appointed postmistress in 1886. Of her varied responsibilities, however, Mrs. Gorgas is best remembered as a librarian, increasing the fledgling University collection from 6,000 to about 20,000 volumes.
After her death in 1913, a movement was begun to build a memorial - a library building - that was completed in 1925 (the present Carmichael Hall). When the new main library was completed in 1939, it, too, was named for Amelia Gayle Gorgas. Her portrait that hangs on the second floor of the library was a memorial sponsored by alumni and presented in 1937.
The 1896 Corolla was dedicated to Gorgas with the following tribute: "Conforming to the unanimous desire of the Alabama Cadet Corps, and thus, in a measure, expressing their filial love, the Corolla of 1896 is dedicated to Mrs. Amelia G. Gorgas, whose tender ministrations to the sick, motherly counsel to the wayward and erring, and words of encouragement and incentive to all, have made her the good angel of their college home."
Grover Hall, Sr.
The product of a newspaper family, Grover Hall Sr., would not be cowed by the Ku Klux Klan.
At a 1923 rally in Homewood - complete with fireworks, a barbecue, and the Klan band - 1,500 people joined the organization as 25,000 people watched. In 1924, more than half of Birmingham's 32,000 voters belonged to the Klan and helped elect Governor Bibb Graves, himself a member of the Montgomery Klan.
When Hall became editor of the Montgomery Advertiser in 1926, he wrote bold editorials denouncing Klan members and officials. He was especially critical of Klan floggings and gangsterism executed to terrify blacks, religious minorities, immigrants, and anyone else whose moral behavior was considered suspect. Hall won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for his editorials about the Klan.
A native of Henry County, Hall was a self-taught journalist who worked at papers in Dothan, Bessemer, and Pensacola before joining the Advertiser in 1910. "Hall had read history, literature, and philosophy to the extent that he was better read than most university professors," remembers journalist Gould Beech, a Hall protégé. "There was a focus to his life: he vehemently opposed any limitation on the human mind. He was confident that the freedom to learn, to think, to express - without limit from any government or institution or organization - would lead in time to a solution of man's ills."
Hall wrote with passion and precision and had the utmost respect for the craft of editorial writing. "Every literate person has one or two editorials in him, but few are fitted for routine, year-round writing," he explained. "A writer in regular practice is in form, on edge, like an athlete."
Victor Hanson was all of 11 years old when he began his first successful publication - a children's newspaper he founded in Macon, Georgia - and he took it with him when his family moved to Columbus. Four years later, the circulation reached 2,500, and he sold his interest in the paper for $2,000. Not bad for a 15 year old in 1891.
Hanson became one of the most successful and distinguished newspaper publishers ever in Alabama. He achieved his success in the great American tradition of starting at the bottom and working his way up. He reported stories, wrote editorials, and, as a young and imaginative circulation department employee of the Montgomery Advertiser, increased that newspaper's financial returns fivefold in a few short years.
In 1909, he moved to Birmingham and invested his savings in a third interest of The Birmingham News. Within a year he was publisher and president; in nine years the circulation increased from 18,000 to 60,000.
In 1920, the News acquired the Ledger, followed by the Age-Herald. Hanson also owned the Advertiser. Although he no longer wrote articles, his papers reflected his passion for freedom and good government. He believed strongly that a paper had to be independent economically to be independent editorially, and this enabled Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Grover Hall to carry out his historic fight with the Ku Klux Klan in the Montgomery Advertiser.
A champion of freedom, Hanson was also committed to improving the education of Alabamians. As a friend of young people, he financed oratorical contests for high-school students. His interest in education became philanthropy. There are at least three Hanson halls on Alabama campuses, and numerous buildings were constructed at other institutions because of his generous support.
Today, The Birmingham News stands proudly as one of the South's outstanding newspapers, a testament to Victor Hanson's acumen as a businessman and journalist.
Porter Harvey graduated from Emory University, studied literature at Harvard, and worked for the New York Post, Nashville Tennessean, and Birmingham Post. But it was his dream to own a weekly newspaper - one that would be concerned with the stories neighbors discussed over cups of coffee and across backyard fences.
Harvey established his local paper, The Advertiser-Gleam, and cast it in his own image - neighborly, folksy, fair, and vital to the community. Named for the way the light "gleamed" on Lake Guntersville, the paper first came out in 1941. Although it got off to a slow start and was initially delivered out of a little red wagon, Harvey persevered, bought out the competition, and forged a bond with his readers that few other newspapermen have enjoyed.
High-tech and glossy the paper is not, and that's what makes it so appealing, personal, and "down-home." A subscriber once told Porter Harvey that reading the Gleam is "like having a conversation with an old friend you haven't seen in years." Dozens of national newspapers, magazines, and television shows have dispatched reporters to the offices of The Advertiser-Gleam to chron-icle one of the nation's most unusual and imaginative newspapermen.
There's still no mistaking The Advertiser-Gleam for USA Today. The Porter Harvey tradition continues. No story, regardless of its importance, gets more than a one-column headline. Headlines from recent editions include "Big Runoff Turnout Goes In Fob's Favor," a story about a primary election; "Didn't Get His Garbage So He Took it To Them," a report on how a local citizen protested being skipped by the garbage truck; "A Cat Burglar, Maybe?", an article that detailed the theft of 29 canaries, parakeets, and finches from a local residence; and "His Green Bean Teepees are Stopping Traffic," a feature about an imaginative gardener.
Highly respected by his colleagues, Harvey also served as past president of the Alabama Press Association. The twice-weekly Gleam has seen little change since its inception and is still family-owned, with son Sam Harvey as editor.
William Bradford Huie
William Bradford Huie wrote 21 books that sold more than 28 million copies. Seven of his books were made into Hollywood movies. He set the sales records for three of the nation's leading newsmagazines that published his articles. Huie's book The Execution of Private Slovik - the story of the only American serviceman to be executed for cowardice and desertion in World War II - was the most-watched television movie when it aired in 1975. And his investigations into racial murders in the South bolstered the civil rights movement.
Born in Hartselle, Alabama, in 1910 and educated at The University of Alabama, Huie's first novel, Mud on the Stars, chronicled the education of a north Alabama boy during the Depression and the events leading up to World War II.
But Huie's name became forever associated with controversy after he moved back to Hartselle and wrote an article in Look magazine on the Mississippi murder of black teenager Emmett Till. Two white men had been acquitted. Huie believed that the truth behind the brutal murder would never be revealed unless a journalist uncovered it. So he paid the men $4,000 dollars for their story. Because they could not be tried again, they were free to admit the crime.
Many journalists and readers denounced Huie's "checkbook" journalism. "A lot of people resent using informers," Huie said. "I don't recommend it. I just don't know any better way."
He Slew The Dreamer, his book about the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., was also criticized for payments to admitted assassin James Earl Ray.
Still, because of Huie's willingness to challenge traditional journalism, he established something the courts could not do: he found the truth behind one of the most heinous race crimes in this century. Scholars say his reporting about the murder of Emmett Till was one of the key events in journalism's confronting the nation's sorry record in civil rights.
As editor of the Birmingham World, Emory Jackson was a fearless and indefatigable champion for civil rights in Alabama. Through hundreds of front page stories and especially in his famous column, "The Tip-Off," Jackson railed against Jim Crow, championed the NAACP, encouraged interracial committees working against segregation, demanded an end to the poll tax and the white primary, rallied blacks to register to vote, chronicled the events of the explosive civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and repeatedly confronted Birmingham police commissioner "Bull" Conner with vivid accounts of brutality perpetrated by his officers.
Connor swore he would run Jackson out of town but wasn't equal to the task. Only a devastating illness could silence the respected editor at the age of 67.
Born in Buena Vista, Georgia, Jackson graduated from Morehouse College, served in the United States Army, and taught high school at Dothan and Birmingham before joining the Birmingham World in 1943. He was also a board member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and was instrumental in the establishment of several Alabama NAACP chapters.
Jackson played a key role in encouraging the desegregation of The University of Alabama. Without his tireless efforts, Pollie Anne Myers and Autherine Lucy would not have had the support needed to prevail against the laws and customs of Alabama.
"Editor Emory Jackson devoted his life to writing, speaking, and working against discrimination and injustice," wrote Allen Woodrow Jones. "During the 34 years that he served as editor of the World, he was known as 'one of the most vigorous, persistent, and courageous advocates in the South for full civil rights for his people.' His voice provided the needed leadership for blacks in their struggle for equality and justice."
Henry Johnston was the epitome of a civic leader, al- though he never sought or held elected office. A graduate of Washington and Lee University, Johnston held key executive positions in the business operations of The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times.
As managing director of WSGN radio and WAPI radio and television, Johnston helped these stations grow into powerful and profitable broadcast organizations.
He was a founding member and first president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association. Johnston also served on the Advisory Committee of the Voice of America as well as numerous other boards of civic and charitable organizations.
Johnston's greatest calling, however, was that of public citizen. He served for 24 years as a member of the Jefferson County Personnel Board, providing leadership when the issues of civil rights and race discrimination came to the forefront.
He was also deeply committed to higher education and to helping promising students. Johnston established three scholarship endowments at Washington and Lee; three at The University of Alabama; three at UAB; and one each at Samford and Birmingham-Southern. He also donated funds to The University of Alabama's Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library to buy books and periodicals.
In an editorial after his death in 1985 The Birmingham News wrote, "the services Henry Johnston rendered his community, state, and nation will sorely be missed. He paid his civic dues a hundredfold and more."
Eleanor Roosevelt called her "America's goodwill ambassador to the world." Helen Keller called herself "an international beggar." She remains, quite simply, Alabama's most famous and celebrated citizen. The winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States, and friend of ten presidents, she was eulogized by Senator Lister Hill as "one of the few names born not to die."
Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880, she lost her sight and hearing at the age of 19 months as a result of illness. Yet she became the first blind and deaf person to communicate effectively with mankind, largely through the efforts of an extraordinary teacher, Annie Sullivan, a 21-year-old partially blind orphan. Mark Twain called Sullivan "The Miracle Worker."
Keller was the first blind and deaf person to complete college, graduating cum laude from Radcliffe.
Throughout her life, Keller traveled the world, dedicating herself not only to the sightless and the afflicted, but to all of humanity. She gave 97 lectures in 39 cities on tours to Japan; during World War II, she made countless trips to comfort those in military hospitals, calling this period "the crowning experience in my life." Between 1946 and 1957, she visited 35 countries on five continents, urging governments to begin schools for the deaf and blind.
Helen Keller received an Oscar for her role in a documentary about her life; the French government saluted her with its highest honor; and she was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Harvard. The author of many books, Keller also was a compelling speaker who enthralled audiences even when she could not speak their native languages.
"Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing," wrote Keller, whose personal miracle of speech singularly embodies the human aspiration to communicate. "It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks."
Despite having one of the most visible and demanding jobs in journalism of covering the White House for The Washington Post, Carroll Kilpatrick is remembered for his kindness, courtesy, and willingness to lend a helping hand to young reporters.
Born in Montgomery in 1913, Kilpatrick attended The University of Alabama and became a favorite student of journalism professor Clarence Cason, who selected him to be editor of The Crimson White, the school newspaper.
Kilpatrick worked as a reporter for two Birmingham dailies and then served as associate editor of the Montgomery Advertiser under the supervision of renowned editor Grover Hall. Following a Nieman fellowship at Harvard, Kilpatrick established a Washington bureau that provided stories for newspapers in Birmingham, Chicago, and San Francisco.
In 1952 he joined The Washington Post where he reported until his retirement in 1975. He covered President Nixon's denials following the Watergate break-in and then wrote the lead story when Nixon resigned. One of the most widely respected political reporters in Washington, he is also the author of numerous books on politics.
Kilpatrick won the Merriman Smith Award for White House coverage in 1972 and was president of the Overseas Writers of Washington and of the White House Correspondents Association.
"His sources knew him as a thorough, fair-minded, reliable, unruffled journalist who did not play favorites or causes and could not be spun," the Post's editorial page said the day after he died.
Katharine Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Co., said of Kilpatrick that he was "gentle, fair, tough-minded, and skeptical but never lost his own sense of modest perspective, gentle humor, and consideration for others."
Martin Luther King
Alabama figures prominently in the life of the nation's leading crusader for human rights. It tested his social conscience as a young pastor in Montgomery and became the principal battleground in his stride toward freedom.
Born in Atlanta in 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. entered Morehouse College at the age of 15 and was ordained a Baptist minister at 17. Graduate studies introduced him to the works of Mohandas K. Gandhi, whose ideas became the core of his own philosophy of nonviolent protest. While in Boston, he met Coretta Scott of Marion, Alabama. They married in June 1953, and the following year King accepted an appointment as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery.
As a young minister and newcomer to the city, King seemed an unlikely choice to lead the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. But the overwhelming success of this 381-day protest was an affirmation of King's nonviolent tactics, and when black clergymen from across the South organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), they called on King to be its president.
King continually preach-ed and practiced nonviolence as he traveled from one civil rights crisis to the next. In 1963 he led a massive civil rights campaign in Birmingham and organized drives for black voter registration, desegregation, and better education and housing throughout the South. Following "Bloody Sunday" at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, he led the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.
King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, a testament to this man who was a champion of nonviolence and freedom.
He was this century's most inspiring communicator. "Letter From Birmingham Jail" is one of the most powerful and convincing pieces of prose written by an American. And his "I Have A Dream" speech, delivered at the conclusion of the historic March on Washington in 1963, is surely one of the most effective, compelling, and magnificent orations in the nation's history.
By the 1940s, the journalism department that Clarence Cason established at the University of Alabama had attracted a renowned faculty. Among the most admired and respected of these professors was John Luskin, a legendary teacher who possessed a sharp intellect.
Born in New York, Luskin was a Phi Beta Kappa who received his graduate degree at Harvard. He worked for papers in Schenectady, New York, and in New Haven, Connecticut, before joining the faculty at the University of Alabama in 1938 where he taught popular courses in critical reviewing and editorial writing.
"John Luskin was mentor to many prominent people in media and literary positions over four decades," recalls Ed Mullins, former dean and professor of journalism at the University of Alabama.
Former student Mary Tillotson, CNN & Co. anchor, said, "John Luskin tried to teach us to read broadly, think logically, and write well and clearly. But most of all he tried to teach us skepticism. The sort of skepticism that is only satisfied with fact, not mere opinion. The sort of skepticism that is essential to good reporting, and all too often, lacking."
Another student he mentored remembers him as an outstanding, inspiring intellectual. "He set high expectations, and then he insisted that you surpass them," says Kellee Reinhart, director of University Relations for The University of Alabama System. "Every class with him was a surprise - usually a pleasant one - and in every meeting with him you felt you had come in contact with genius."
Luskin originated the Alabama Press Association Journalism Foundation and frequently wrote as a guest columnist for state and regional news-papers. His acclaimed book Lippmann, Liberty, and the Press, published in 1972, is recognized as the definitive study of Walter Lippmann and freedom of the press. In 1984, the University of Alabama awarded Professor John Luskin an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Television newsman Frank McGee's tenure in Alabama was short, but his work was so extraordinary it propelled him from a local affiliate in Montgomery to NBC's news desk in Washington.
Born in Louisiana and raised in Oklahoma, McGee joined the army in 1940 before graduating from high school. After World War II, he worked as a furniture restorer, wheat combine operator, government clerk, and theater manager as he attended college at Berkeley and the University of Oklahoma. In Norman, Oklahoma, he began working for a radio station and then became a television newscaster. In 1955 he joined WSFA-TV in Montgomery as news director. One year later his coverage of the Ku Klux Klan brought him to the attention of NBC executives.
In his seventeen years at NBC, McGee covered the great stories of his time, anchored the evening news, and hosted the Today show. He was praised for his coverage of presidential conventions and elections, the battle over integration, and the Vietnam War. While reporting the assassination of President Kennedy, he remained at his anchor desk for twelve hours straight. The New York Times wrote that McGee possessed an "uncanny knack for flawless delivery under any circumstances."
McGee's specialty was the quickly produced but thoroughly researched news special that preempted prime time programs. Such groundbreaking "spontaneous" specials were usually scripted and always hosted by McGee. These programs reported on the Paris summit of Eisenhower and Khruschev; the Kennedy Administration; the space program; American military preparedness; and crises in Africa and Laos. His three-hour documentary about civil rights, "The American Revolution of '63," received a Peabody Award.
"Behind Frank McGee's soft-spoken, almost courtly manner, one sensed a character of integrity and iron," said Walter Cronkite.
A misspelled name in an assignment submitted for Charles Scarritt's reporting class at the University of Alabama meant an automatic "F." "People's names are important to them. So get them right," he told his students.
After Bob Ward graduated and was working for The Huntsville Times, he understood why Scarritt was so insistent on this seemingly small detail. "He was teaching exactness. If you learned to be precise about names, you learned to be careful with all the facts in your reporting."
That passion for care and precision is but one lesson Scarritt imparted to the 10,000 journalism students he taught at the University of Georgia, Auburn, Stephens College, Texas Western University, and, for 24 years, The University of Alabama.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Scarritt attended the University of Missouri. His work as a copy reader, reporter, editorial editor, columnist, and city editor at many papers, including The Kansas City Star, prepared him for a career as a journalism instructor.
Scarritt also authored a book on Grover Hall and the Ku Klux Klan, designed a ranking system for college football teams that was used in several newspapers, sponsored the University Press Club at the University of Alabama, and was actively involved in the formation of the University's College of Communication Alumni Association.
Although a demanding teacher, Professor Scarritt was devoted to his students and enthusiastically followed their careers after graduation. When he died in 1979, his former students, friends, and colleagues established the Charles W. Scarritt Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund for aspiring students in journalism.
"There are legions who studied under him and carried his influence into life and career," wrote Jim Montgomery. "That influence includes mental discipline, respect for accuracy, the parsimonious use of words, and a holy regard for the institution of journalism. And he returned an affection for his students that followed them through their lives."
Barrett Shelton, Sr.
Barrett Shelton was editor and publisher of The Decatur Daily for 60 years but was first and foremost a community leader. Thanks in large measure to his enthusiastic championing of the development of the Tennessee Valley, in his lifetime Decatur grew from a town of 5,000 with no industries to a city of more than 43,000 with more Fortune 500 companies than Birmingham.
Born in Columbia, Tennessee, Shelton moved with his family to Decatur in 1911, where his father published the first issue of The Decatur Daily in 1912. Shelton attended Washington and Lee but upon his father's death in 1923, he returned home to help with the newspaper. He was only 21 when he became editor and publisher of The Decatur Daily. Throughout his career, Shelton was vitally involved in the community he loved. He organized a new Chamber of Commerce and became its first president during the Great Depression. With the Chamber's support, Decatur entrepreneurs developed their own farm processing plants to ensure year-round income for the area.
Shelton was the first chairman of the Tennessee River Valley Development Association, a charter member of the first Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Commission, president of the Tri-County Appalachian Health Planning Commission, and a member of the Decatur Municipal Utilities Board.
"People will follow you if you lead them in the right direction," he said when he was honored by the Tennessee Valley Authority as the agency's most distinguished citizen of 1981. "If you can't give leadership, the community is just going to sit down and do nothing. We want to be helpful - that's the mission of a newspaper."
Hazel Brannon Smith
Ordinary people often perform the most heroic deeds in extraordinary times.
Hazel Brannon Smith never intended to be a civil rights champion. Born in Gadsden, Alabama, Smith attended The University of Alabama with Paul "Bear" Bryant, whom she admired and respected. A journalism graduate, Smith was vivacious, charming, and outspoken. She borrowed $3,000 and bought four weeklies in Mississippi and for more than a decade led a charmed life - a cozy small southern town existence, with trips to newspaper conventions in Biloxi and to San Francisco as a delegate to the Democratic convention.
In 1954, her life forever changed when she witnessed the unjustified shooting of a black man by a sheriff on a public street on the fourth of July in Holmes County, Mississippi.
Outraged, Smith criticized the sheriff in a front-page editorial and called for his resignation. The sheriff sued her and organized white citizens against her. Through three decades, she endured boycotts against her newspapers, a cross burning in her front yard, the bombing of one of her newspaper offices, and continued harassment against her and her husband, who was forced from his job as a hospital administrator.
The White Citizens Council made Smith a target, and she stubbornly fought back through her pen, her actions, and her sharp tongue. Smith attacked the bigots and defended those they oppressed. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for her "steadfast adherence to her editorial duty in the face of great pressure and opposition," but her papers only barely survived before she printed the last edition of the debt-ridden Lexington Advertiser in 1985.
"If ever the martyrs to a free press in America are assembled in Heaven, there is one thing I know: Hazel Brannon Smith will be in the front rank," wrote Mississippi political columnist Bill Minor.
Frank Thomas left the navy in 1943 with "a full head of steam," as seamen say, but not much money. So he borrowed $150 and started his first paper, The Alabama Citizen, in Tuscaloosa. Soon Thomas would be one of the state's preeminent newspaper publishers and possess one of the strongest voices calling for racial equality.
Thomas began his career at the age of eight as a newsboy and worked his way up to reporter and agent for several Birmingham and Tuscaloosa newspapers.
In 1933 he sought justice after three black men, charged with the murder of a white girl, were shot to death by deputies along a lonely road in Tuscaloosa. Thomas called for an investigation and was forced out of town by a mob.
In 1954 he moved to Mobile to establish his second newspaper, The Mobile Beacon. Thomas and his wife maintained homes in Mobile and Tuscaloosa and commuted regularly between the two cities. An active citizen of both cities, he served in numerous civic organizations. And his papers provided the only coverage of the civil rights movement available to many blacks in Alabama.
Also that year, the Citizen joined the fight to batter down the racial barriers erected against black students at the University of Alabama. Thomas was instrumental in protecting Autherine Lucy once she was admitted to the University. He also promoted a voter registration drive among black war veterans and helped organize the Tuscaloosa branch of the NAACP, even though these activities brought pressure and threats from the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1972 Thomas was the first African American inducted into the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor in recognition of his efforts to promote the advancement of civil rights, understanding, and racial harmony in Alabama.
"As a journalist, being black and in Alabama, Frank Thomas often stood alone; stood in the midst of terror, perhaps trembling, yet stood there crying out for justice and fair play," wrote his colleague Emory Jackson. "Such has been the mission and the role of the Black Press."