Sunday, January 28, 2018


We have only a few days left to deal with the culture of Alabama.

Along with looking into the history of Alabama I read a book which was written about a small town in Alabama from the viewpoint of a young boy, A BOY'S LIFE by Robert McCammon.  I enjoyed the book very much.  I think it should be made into a series as there is something exciting happening regularly, enough for at least 20 episodes. The main character keeps his head on his shoulders as he is buffeted by life.  It deals with bullies of all ages, race relations in the south, fathers and sons, and a lot of fantasy.  A mystery ties the whole plot together.

"Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson—a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake—and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever."....AMAZON

I have not seen the movie SELMA but I plan to.

Here are all the well known people who came from Alabama.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


The last big history making events in Alabama occurred in 1964 and 1965 with the Marches from Selma to Montgomery.  This is an interesting, heart wrenching story worth reading.  I chose Selma to paint and here is the finished work.  These are all old buildings that were undoubtedly around when the marches took place.  Half the purchase price of all my "state" paintings will go to the ACLU.

Nancy Herman
oil on stretched canvas
12' x 24"


Our problems with bigotry and hatred have not gone away. There are always some people, who believe that they can identify a whole group of people by their color or their nationality as a threat.  When the real threat is the people who happen to be in power who subvert the law and use their power to benefit themselves and their buddies.

Here I am doing my own marching last Saturday in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


The twentieth Century was marked by the gradual increase in the ability of African Americans to  vote but was hard won.  Alabama played a key role in slowing down the process with Governor George Wallace refusing to desegregate schools until the John F Kennedy sent in the  National Guard.  How brave those people were who faced the ugly hatred of their white neighbors!

Vivian Malone Jones arrives to enroll in classes at the University of Alabama

Dr. Sonnie Hereford and his 6 year old son return home
after being turned away from Huntsville's Fifth Avenue School
on Sept. 3, 1963.  Six days later, Sonnie Hereford IV became the first
black child enrolled at a public school in Alabama.

Monday, January 22, 2018


Last post I said that the Rosenfeld Fund built many schools in Alabama and then the link sent you to the ROSENWALD FUND which obviously was the correct name for the fund.  From now on my blog will be edited by someone who is more careful than I am.

A combination of agricultural depression caused by an infestation of the Boll Weevil, continued rational discrimination and lynchings led many African Americans to move (The Great Migration) to Northern and Mid Western states.  The population was depleted by nearly half.  Many of those remaining both black and white moved to Birmingham where heavy industry and mining employed over 30% of the states population.

Friday, January 19, 2018


The new 1901 Constitution of Alabama effectively disenfranchised large portions of the population including nearly all African Americans, Native Americans, and tens of thousands of poor whites.  They did this by making voter registration very difficult, requiring a poll tax and a literacy test.  There were 181,000 African Americans eligible to vote in 1900 and only 2,980 in 1903.  These poll taxes in effect disenfranchised poor whites although they actually voted to pass the laws against their own self interest.
In addition most public facilities were segregated.
The Rosenfeld Fund provided millions of dollars to build and maintain schools for black children as the public funding was grossly inadequate.   There were a total of 387 schools built.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Alabama #8

Alabama's slaves were freed by the 13th Amendment in 1865.  During the period from1867 to 1874 many African Americans emerged as political leaders in the state. Remember nearly half the population was African American.  Some sources including Wikipedia say that many whites were disenfranchised at this time but that 'fact' is disputed by other sources and seems not to have solid documentation.

What is known is that during Reconstruction state legislators ratified a new state constitution that created the states first public school system and expanded women's rights.  Public works were also funded constructing roads and railroads. 
This period of progress was ended with a new election in 1874.  These new elected officials passed legislation that racially segregated schools.  By 1901 most African Americans and many poor whites had been disenfranchised by the new constitution. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Alabama #7

"By 1860, the population of Alabama had increased to 964,201 people, of which nearly half, 435,080 were enslaved African Americans, and 2,690 were free people of color.

On January 11,1861 Alabama declared its secession from the Union.  It joined the Confederate States of America soon thereafter.  The Confedracy's capital was initially at Montgomery.  Alabama was heavily involved in the American Civil War.  Although comparatively few battles were fought in the state, Alabama contributed about 120,00 soldiers to the war effort." ..   Wikipedia

Here is an interesting account of the war as it impacted Alabama.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Alabama #6

The territory that is now Alabama underwent many changes in its boundaries from the early settlements until it eventually became a state in 1819.  It also was "owned" by several countries.  After it became a state there was a great rush to settle there as the land was suitable for growing cotton and the slave trade made it possible to farm the cotton inexpensively.
And so begins the sad tale of slavery and how it forms and deforms the character of the people involved.

The area also drew many poor, disenfranchised people who became subsistence farmers.  Alabama had an estimated population of under 10,000 people in 1810 and 300,000 by 1830.

Most Native American tribes were completely removed from the state within a few years of the passage of the Indian Removal Act by Congress in 1830.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Alabama #6

After Europeans started flooding into Alabama.  The Indians living there became alarmed as their lands were being usurped.  Many were decimated by diseases brought by the settlers.  The Creek Indian tribe who occupied most of the territory were split in their allegiances.  Tecumseh, the great Shawnee leader, tried to unite the Creeks against the settlers who wanted the Indians to adopt trades in order to better serve their needs.

Spain and England sided with those waring in opposition to the settlements.  Andrew Jackson lead the settlers and was allied with Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee Creeks who were often of mixed blood with the settlers.  This was the first Indian war and was part of the War of 1812.

1899 Chromolithograph artist unkown

The Creek War ended in 1814 when the Creeks were forced to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, ceding some forty thousand square miles of land to the United States.  The Indians who fought with Jackson were also soon forced to cede their lands.  I wonder what would have happened had the Indians stuck together.

By 1830 the removal of almost all the native Alabamans was completed though a few did remain such as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians who somehow escaped and remain there today.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Alabama #5

The first Europeans to arrive in Alabama were:  (From the History of Alabama Website)

1519:  Alonso Alvarez de Pineda led an expedition to the region
1528:  Cabeza de Vaca visited Alabama
1540:  Hernando de Soto led a Spanish expedition to the area.the Spanish when

DeSoto breezed through in 1540.  Apparently there was not a settlement of Europeans at that time but 160 years later the French created one in old Mobile which was later moved to the current site of Mobile.
After that history can best be described as a greedy land grab from one foreign country after another. The British took over from the French and then the land was divided between the British and the Spanish.

What happened to the original occupants of the area ?

This is from the Alabama Indian fact sheet for children:

"The record of the first contact with the Alabama comes from the DeSoto expedition in 1641.
Desoto found the "Alabama" tribe in central Mississippi and attacked and killed many of them in a fierce battle.  Later they moved east into present day Alabama where they lived at the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers.  Desoto also found the Coushata living on the Tennessee river.  By the 1780's the Americans wanted the land in Alabama and the Alabama were forced to move west across the Mississippi river into Louisiana around Opelousa.  Around 1803 they moved west again across the Sabine river into Northeast Texas.  They were settled in the region of the Hasinais Caddo Indians where they still live."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Indigenous people of varying cultures lived in the area including Alabama for thousands of years before the advent of European colonization.  Trade with the northeastern tribes began during the Burial Mound Period and continued until European contact.

In this period people were grouped in the Mississipian Culture which covers a great deal of the Eastern Coast.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Alabama #4

Before we delve anymore into the history of Alabama it is probably a good idea to see exactly where it is.  If you are anything like me you have only a vague idea about this country's geography.  I knew Alabama was in the deep south but really hadn't realized it was as deep as you can get without falling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tennessee is to the North, Mississippi is to the West, and Florida is to the South and East.  It will be interesting to see when we get to Florida how they managed to get that big hunk of land on the Gulf of Mexico that looks like it should be a part of Alabama.  The whole business of the borders between states must have been quite a political struggle!

There are some fine looking resorts on Alabama's Gulf of Mexico's shore.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Alabama #3

Thanks to a careful reader of this blog a gigantic mistake was detected in yesterday's data.  I said  there had been humans in the United States for over 1000 years.  I meant to refer to when the Indians built mounds at Moundville.  Actually there have been humans here for at least from between 10 and 20 thousand years ago.

Here is an interesting site that talks more about these fascinating mound structures and has some pictures of the art created there.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Alabama #2

This month I am dedicated to finding out whatever I can about Alabama in my quest to know my country better.  I started in December but the holidays got in the way.

I have been cruising around by way of Google maps and have a street in Selma to paint.  this is the screen grab I'm working from.

It is the poorest city in Alabama and perhaps because of that there are some nice old buildings.  No-one had the money to tear them down.

I have been delving with fascination into the history of Alabama.  I knew there were Indians in America but I had no idea that there were people in the United States at least 1000 years ago.  Christopher Columbus discovered America -  harrumph!  Several civilizations grew up and went into decline before Europe even officially put us on their map.

The agrarian Mississippian culture covered most of the state from 1000 to 1600 AD, with one of its major centers built at what is now Moundville Archaeological Site in Moundville, Alabama.  On Google maps cruising the streets of Moundville I came upon this mound.  What the mounds were designed for is not that clear but some in our country were as large as the Egyptian pyramids.  It seems the served different functions over the years.  Sometimes religious, sometimes secular and sometimes as burial grounds.  There were also homes situated on top of some mounds which leads me to wonder if they were not at least in part to make sure the house stayed dry in case the waters around the area got too high.  Here is a link to images from the museum there.