February Spotlight

Alabama Living Magazine

Civil rights icon’s medal on display at Archives

President Joe Biden presents the Medal of Freedom to Fred Gray, Thursday, July 7, 2022, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The Presidential Medal of Freedom that was presented to Alabama attorney Fred D. Gray on July 7, 2022, is now on display in the ADAH’s main lobby and will be on view through February 2023. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. 

Born in Montgomery on Dec. 14, 1930, Gray graduated from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) at the age of 17 and enrolled at Western Reserve University Law School in Ohio. The young attorney returned to Alabama determined to contest the legality of segregation laws. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he represented Rosa Parks and served as legal advisor for the Montgomery Improvement Association and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., its president. 

Gray was lead counsel in the landmark 1956 case Browder v. Gayle, which overturned segregation on public transportation in Alabama. Building on this precedent, Gray challenged inequality in dozens of cases over the next several decades. He continues to practice law today at the age of 92. Gray has been a trustee of the ADAH since 2003.  

“We have made substantial progress but the struggle for the elimination of racism and for equal justice continues. I hope this award will encourage other Americans to do what they can to complete the task so that all American citizens will be treated the same, equally and fairly, in accordance with the Constitution,” Gray says.

Learn more at archives.alabama.gov

Alabama State Parks receive grant for Chewacla State Park

The Chewacla Invasive Plant Working Group has been crucial in long-term efforts to remove and control non-native plant species at Chewacla State Park.
Photo courtesy Alabama State Parks

The State Parks Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) was recently awarded a $20,000 Hearts of STIHL grant from STIHL, Inc., to be used for the removal and management of invasive plant species at Chewacla State Park in Auburn. 
The Hearts of STIHL grants are awarded to support programs that prioritize responsible forest management practices, sustainability, conservation and environmental education programs. The grants are managed through the America’s State Parks Foundation and awarded to state parks in six regions of the U.S. 
“Invasive plants are a threat to native ecosystems throughout the country,” says Tasha Simon, Natural Resources Supervisor for Alabama State Parks. “Since Alabama is one of the most biologically diverse states in the U.S., managing that threat to our native species is very important.” 
The grant will fund the purchase of equipment and herbicides to reduce the amount of Chinese privet and tallowtree, thorny olive, wild taro, water hyacinth, kudzu and other non-native plants at Chewacla. The funding will also support educational signage and print media about the restoration of native habitats within the park. 

For more information about the Hearts of STIHL program, visit stihlusa.com/community/hearts-of-stihl/

Co-ops respond to devastating weather

Numerous strong to severe thunderstorms cut through central Alabama on Jan. 12, and several of those storms spawned significant tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. An EF3 tornado that tracked from Autauga County into western Chambers County had a long-track path of over 76 miles and was at least 1,500 yards wide; this tornado caused seven fatalities and 16 injuries. 

A crew from Coosa Valley EC resets a pole in the Old Jasmine Hill Road area of Wetumpka on Jan. 13, the day after an EF3 tornado plowed through the Central Alabama EC service territory.
Photo courtesy of Tommy Giles

This storm left more than 9,000 Central Alabama EC members without power, and the co-op needed to replace more than 300 poles. Several sister co-ops responded to help Central Alabama with the restoration of power: Dixie EC, Marshall-DeKalb EC, Tallapoosa River EC, Baldwin EMC, Clarke-Washington EMC, Cullman EC, Coosa Valley EC, Black Warrior EMC and Wiregrass EC sent a total of 85 men as well as trucks and materials to the affected areas in Central Alabama’s territory. They were in place by the morning of Jan. 13, and all were released by the evening of Jan. 15.

But several co-ops had their own damage to contend with. Black Warrior EMC, Pioneer EC, Southern Pine EC, Clarke-Washington EMC, Joe Wheeler EMC, South Alabama EC, Pea River EC and others saw large-scale outages from the band of storms that tore through Alabama. 

Alabama’s co-ops always stand ready to help sister co-ops both in-state and across the Southeast after a devastating weather event.

Whereville, AL

Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative, if applicable. The winner and answer will be announced in the March issue.

Submit by email: whereville@alabamaliving.coop, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.

Do you like finding interesting or unusual landmarks? Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Remember, all readers whose photos are chosen also win $25!

January’s answer: This group of large stones is in the Civil Rights Memorial Park, located at the base of the southern end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The small fence surrounding it resembles the bridge. On the center stone is the verse from Joshua 4:21-22. (Photo by Allison Law of Alabama Living) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Kathy Sexton of Black Warrior EMC.


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