UA’s School of Social Work Welcomes Civil Rights Leaders

The University of Alabama’s social work students, faculty and members of the Tuscaloosa community will soon have the amazing opportunity to listen to two notable civil rights leaders speak in honor of African- American Heritage Month.

There is no doubt that the seats within the Little Hall at the university’s School of Social Work will be full as attendees eagerly wait to hear Rev. Thomas Linton and Maxie Thomas speak.

Rev. Linton has been a staple in the Tuscaloosa community as the owner of one of the first black barbershops in the area and civil rights activists. In fact, he was an integral part of the historical march

in the city on June 9, 1964, which is now know as “Bloody Tuesday” and aptly so.

Thomas has also been a fixture in the community throughout the years as he continues his civil rights work and his duties as director of the West Alabama Community Safety Organization. He, too, played a large part in the march on that unforgettable Tuesday over 50 years ago.

“The School of Social Work is proud to celebrate Dr. Ethel H. Hall African-American Heritage month by hosting a colloquium featuring speakers Rev. Thomas Linton and Mr. Maxie Thomas, two icons of the Civil Rights Movement,” said the University of Alabama’s School of Social Work spokeswoman, Vickie Whitfield.

The march in Tuscaloosa began as many do, with peaceful demonstrators marching through town in an attempt to create constructive conversation about the necessity for equal rights for all, regardless of race, gender or creed.

Community members and civil rights activists alike took to the streets beginning at Tuscaloosa’s First African Baptist Church and continued on toward the County Courthouse. However, the peaceful message being delivered by marchers was quickly silenced by violence perpetrated by those blinded by racial prejudice.

Tuscaloosa police arrived on the scene before marchers even ventured outside of the church at the command of Police Chief William Marable, who cited permitting issues as a reason to put a stop to the march.

Marchers were greeted by a throng of police officers, fire trucks, paddy wagons and disgruntled white community members immediately. Several of the event organizers were arrested on the spot as the police demanded the remaining participants return to the church.

Refusing to have their rights further violated, marchers proceeded towards their destination. They never made it to the County Courthouse, though.

Within a mere 50 feet of the church steps, marchers were on the receiving end of charging police and white community members, many of which were armed with various weapons like baseball bats, fire hoses, billy clubs and more.

The violence unleashed during the march left an indelible mark on Tuscaloosa and the civil rights movement in general as it became known as “Bloody Tuesday”. A simple, well intended march against segregated water fountains resulted in the hospitalization of 33 black men, women and children and the arrest of an additional 94 people.

Rev. Linton and Mr. Thomas lived through “Bloody Tuesday” and have an invaluable perspective to share with those willing to listen. The University of Alabama School of Social Work provides them with an ideal platform to delve into the rich history of Tuscaloosa’s civil rights journey, too.

Whitfield said, “We hear a lot about the other events that went on around the state and around the country, but we don’t realize what happened here locally. It’s important for us to know our history here in Tuscaloosa.”

The event will be held on February 20th at noon in room 223 of Little Hall and is open at no charge to those who wish to attend. There will be an opportunity to participate in an informal discussion after the events conclusion at 1:15 PM.

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