The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

July 5, 2008

Black history trail practical idea, for both local tourism, remembrance

Col. James Walker's idea of marking prominent sites to create a black history trail in Limestone County is a good idea for tourism and educational purposes as well. Most large cities, as well as the state of Alabama, now mark prominent sites in Civil rights and black history.

Limestone County's African Americans have a rich history and a trail would provide a way for local residents to remember it and for those from outside the county to learn from it.

Walker, a Limestone native and graduate of Trinity High School, designated 11 points of interest, including Trinity school, which a group is trying to raise funds to restore as a museum. Currently, the school is rundown and overgrown with weeds and requires a significant amount of work.

Begun by missionaries after the Civil War for children of former slaves, the school held a prominent place in the County's black community until its closure in 1970 when segregation ended.

Walker is trying to determine how much interest residents have in creating a trail before approaching local government agencies. Creation of such trails typically do not require much money from local governments. Signage is the main expense and grants are often available for such historical endeavors. Tourism funds could help pay costs of brochures with maps.

We support a trail and hope local officials will also.

A few of Walker's 11 proposed sites are:

• Grave of William "Sou" Bridgeforth, Negro Baseball team owner, in Lakeview Church Cemetery in Beulahland;

• Home of George Ruffin Bridgeforth, 711 Brownsferry St. Trinity graduate who attended Boston College and served as director of agriculture at Tuskegee, where he worked with George Washington Carver.

• Home site of R. Eugene Pincham, 903 Brownsferry St. Trinity High School graduate, judge, Chicago mayoral candidate, Northwestern School of Law graduate who served as Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court judge. Also justice of the Appellate Court of Illinois.

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