Fall Meeting – September 10, 2023

Breaking Barriers:

Desegregation of Huntsville City Schools and its Lessons for the Future

Presented by Sonnie Hereford IV and Dr. Beth Hereford Patin

Sonnie Hereford IV (Rocket City Civil Rights) and Dr. Beth Hereford Patin, his daughter and an assistant professor at Syracuse University, will use family photographs, videos, and digital storytelling tools to share Sonnie’s experience as one of the first Black students to desegregate Huntsville City Schools. They will discuss the desegregation of Huntsville City schools and its significance in the broader context of the Civil Rights Movement by detailing the specific events, protests, and legal actions that led to the eventual desegregation of these schools.

History Movie Night: Series Kick-Off

HMCHS is happy to partner with Innerspace Brewing Company to present history movie nights! While these nights are geared towards students, anyone is welcome to attend.

Beginning in November, we will host monthly movie night that features Alabama. That could be in storyline, Alabamians represented in cast and crew, or even in-state filming locations.

From Watercress Capital to Rocket City: A Survey of Huntsville History

October 3 – Industry Development
John Hunt settled in Huntsville in 1805, and the rockets came to town in 1949. How did we spend 144 years as an agriculture economy before seemingly flipping a switch to space and defense industries?

October 10 – Land & Housing
The majority of Madison County used to be farmland. Now we have the arsenal, Huntsville and Madison are constantly expanding, rural towns now have fast food and housing complexes, and we have business districts and research parks. It all amounts to land development.

October 17 – Recreational Spaces
Land for housing and business is just one aspect of how Madison County’s landscape has changed. Land used for parks, greenways, and conservation has been developed, as well.

October 24 – Diversity
Huntsville is an incredibly diverse area. Even before the space and defense industries brought an international labor force, the demographics of the area split very early on.

October 31 – Education
Availability of and access to education has dramatically over time. We’ll look at how shifts in education effected local communities.

Newsletter Format Change

Beginning in 2024, the newsletter will be available in digital format ONLY.

  • Will be freely accessible to both members and non-members
  • Aid in wider proliferation of HMCHS information, including details about programming, meetings, etc.
  • Invites greater viewership and subscription, with potential to gain members
  • Only requires member email addresses as a form of contact
  • Is less cost prohibitive than paper, printer, and mailing fees
  • Will NOT contain advertising/spam and will NOT sell personal information
  • The Board will migrate all known member email addresses to the new digital newsletter. All remaining members will be contacted for updated information.
  • The digital newsletter will be emailed quarterly, per usual. To avoid missing it, add hmchistoricalsociety.gmail.com@hubspotfree.net to your email’s address book.
  • A printable PDF version of the newsletter will be made available on the website.

2023 Ranee’ Pruitt Award

Every year, the Board recognizes individuals in the community that go above and beyond spreading the love of history. In 2023, we chose two historians that have proven many times over that they are dedicated to the proliferation of Huntsville history. Join us at the Fall meeting to present the award to:

Message from the President

Autumn is a lovely metaphor for change. It is a time when nature is winding down and preparing for an eventual metamorphosis. The historical society has been working through a transformation of its own for the majority of 2023. We’re adapting to hopefully breathe new life into HMCHS. The first of these updates debuted at the Summer meeting, in the form of our updated logo and overall graphic design. And now, in time for the Fall meeting, we are excited to present our new website. The URL is the same, but content is more user-friendly. As we embark on our metamorphosis, I encourage you to explore all the new and old things this historical society has to offer.

Heather M. Adkins