Monday 11 July 2011

The America project - Alabama

Alabama (AL) size 52,419 sq.m population 4.8 million

Bordering states Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida (4)
State capital Montgomery
Most populous city Birmingham
Other notable places Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Huntsville
Notable landmarks and natural features Natural Bridge Rock, Haleyville; Wetumpka Crater, Elmore County; Appalachian Mountains.

Statehood 14th December 1819 (22nd)

Ten famous Alabamians
Tallulah Bankhead (actress; born Jasper, 1902-1968)
Nat King Cole (singer; born Montgomery, 1919-1965)
Helen Keller (writer and activist, born Tuscumbia, 1880-1968)
Carl Lewis (athlete, born Montgomery, 1961 -)
Joe Louis (boxer, born Lafayette, 1914-1981)
Jesse Owens (athlete, born Oakville, 1913-1980)
Rosa Parks (civil rights activist, born Tuskegee, 1913-2005)
Condoleezza Rice (politician, born Birmingham, 1954 - )
Lionel Richie (singer, born Tuskegee, 1949 - )
Jimmy Wales (internet entrepreneur, born Huntsville, 1966 - )

Three important events

1. Tuskegee syphilis experiment (clinical study, 1932-1972)
A US Government study to study the progress of untreated syphilis in rural black male sharecroppers from Macon County, all of whom were made to believe that they were in fact receiving free healthcare. As well as denying the subjects the knowledge of their condition, they also withheld from them the knowledge of, or treatment from any new treatments for the disease such as Penicillin. In 1966, a public health service man called Peter Buxton began the process of bringing the case to the wider public knowledge. In 1974, Congress passed an act forbidding any such future medical study. In 1997, President Clinton formally apologised on behalf of the US Government.

2. The Montgomery Bus Boycott (civil rights, 1955-1956)
42-year old seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in December 1955. Her arrest spawned a year-long protest where black Americans boycotted the Montgomery public transport system in order to see its segregation rules revoked. Segregation on public transport was declared unconstitutional on 1st December 1956.

3. Stand In The Schoolhouse Door (civil rights, 11th June 1963)
Governor of Alabama George Wallace, newly-elected on his promise of 'segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever' physically stood in the doorway at Alabama University's Foster Auditorium in order to prevent three black students, Vivian Malone Jones, Dave McGlathery and James Hood from officially registering for classes. Jones, McGlathery and Hood's right to attend the university was secured by 1954's Brown vs. The Board of Education legal case, which declared segregated schools to be unconstitutional.

Wallace's stand was eventually ended when President Kennedy mobilised the National Guard and General Henry Graham ordered the Governor to step aside.

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