Alabama History in September

Excerpted from Alabama Department of Archives and History

September 1, 1934: Following Alabama’s lead, a nationwide textile strike begins, with 15,000 Alabama workers among the 400,000 strikers nationwide. The Alabama strike, which had started in July, had survived threats of violence and even the brief abduction of strike leader John Dean. The largest walkout in Alabama and U.S. history at the time, the strike ended September 22 after mediation efforts by the Roosevelt administration.

September 2, 1963: Gov. George Wallace postpones the opening of Tuskegee High School to prevent its integration. State troopers enforced the order, preventing the school from becoming Alabama’s first racially integrated public grade school. Wallace took similar action in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile, but four Huntsville schools were integrated on September 9th.

September 3, 1910: Boll weevils are first discovered on Alabama soil in Mobile County. The devastation the insect would cause to cotton throughout the South ultimately spurred agricultural diversification away from “King Cotton.”

September 4, 1951: Alabama lawmakers pass legislation requiring a new look for the state’s license plates. Beginning in October 1954, tags were to carry an image of a heart and the phrase, “Heart of Dixie,” a slogan that had been used for several years by the Alabama State Chamber of Commerce to promote the state.

September 5, 1925: Centreville reaches the highest ever recorded temperature in Alabama when thermometers hit 112°. The Labor Day weekend was a scorcher with cities and towns across the state recording several days of 100°+ temperatures.

September 8, 1960: NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, which grew out of the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, is dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Among many contributions to the U.S. space program, center director Wernher von Braun and his team developed the Saturn rockets that launched American astronauts to the moon in 1969.

September 12, 1913: Jesse Owens is born in Oakville, Alabama. Owens was one of the first U.S. athletes who combined talents as a sprinter, low hurdler, and broad jumper. In 1936, he won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics: in the 100 meter, 200 meter, broad jump, and as a participant on the 400-meter relay team.

September 13, 1939: The Alabama legislature outlaws open-range livestock grazing in Alabama, effective March 1, 1941, although counties are given the option of holding referendums on allowing cattle to range free within county boundaries. Closing of the range in Alabama began shortly after the Civil War, when fencing of livestock was required in certain agricultural districts, and various local-option measures followed in subsequent years. In 1951, the legislature, in what by then was largely a symbolic act, took away local option, thereby permanently closing the open range.

September 14, 1969: Talladega Speedway opens with its first running of the Talladega 500 which is won by Richard Brickhouse. Over 30 top drivers boycotted the first run saying the track was unsafe at high speeds. The facility cost $4 million dollars to build and attracted a crowd of 65,000 to the first major race. In April 2000, a crowd of 180,000 watched Jeff Gordon win the Diehard 500.

September 15, 1963: Four black girls are killed and 21 others are injured when a bomb explodes at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, a center for nearby civil rights demonstrations the previous spring. The girls, ranging between the ages of 11 and 14, were preparing for Youth Day activities when the Sunday morning explosion occurred. Three Klansmen accused of the bombing were convicted: one each in 1977, 2001, and 2002. A fourth suspect who died in 1994 was never put on trial.

September 17, 1923: Hank Williams is born in Georgiana, Alabama. After his first appearance on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry in 1949, the singer-songwriter went on to become a country music legend despite his death in 1953 at age twenty-nine. His grave is located in Montgomery’s Oakwood Cemetery.

September 19, 1953: More than thirty years after it became law, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, is ratified by the Alabama legislature. Although Alabama complied with the provisions of the amendment as soon as it went into effect in 1920, the 1953 legislature wanted “to record its approval of extending the right of suffrage to women.”

September 20-21, 1819: The first general election for governor,
members of the U.S. Congress, legislators, court clerks, and sheriffs
is held as specified by the Constitution of 1819. Held on the third Monday and following Tuesday of September, the voters elected William Wyatt Bibb as the state’s first governor.

September 25, 1867: The oldest newspaper in Alabama owned by a single family, The Southern Star, is first published in Dale County. Except for a few issues, the editor has always been a family member. Joseph H. Adams, the editor as of 2001, is of the fourth generation.

September 27, 1830: Representatives of the Choctaw Indians sign the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, thereby ceding to the United States all their land east of the Mississippi River, including parts of west Alabama. Not all Choctaws moved west, however, and descendants living in Alabama are recognized by the state as the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, who have their tribal office at McIntosh.

September 27, 1906: Following several days of heavy rains, a powerful hurricane wreaks havoc on the Gulf Coast, killing dozens in the Mobile area and causing millions of dollars in property damage. The editor of the Mobile Register called the hurricane “the greatest storm in the history of the city and by far the most damaging.”

September 30, 1893: Julia Tutwiler persuades the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama to try a qualified form of co-education. A faculty committee agreed to “admit young women of not less than 18 years of age, of good character and antecedents, who are able to stand the necessary examinations: for entrance to the sophomore class or higher.” A required proviso was that “suitable homes and protection” be provided. In the fall of 1893, two women students entered the university.

September 30, 1945: Aliceville Camp, a prisoner-of-war camp in Pickens County for members of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Africa Korps, is deactivated. The camp was activated in December 1942 and eventually held 5,000 prisoners. Other German war prisoners were held in Alabama at camps in Opelika, Fort McClellan, and Fort Rucker.