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Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Capitol Park

Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail

 
 
Capitol Park Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
1. Capitol Park Marker
Inscription.  As you look at the ruins of the former Alabama State Capitol, it may be difficult to realize that the building stood at the center of debates over freedom and liberty. Until the end of the Civil War, Alabama and Tuscaloosa were centers of slavery. After the war, the state helped make segregation the law of the land in the South while Tuscaloosa itself became rigidly divided by race. The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail begins here and seeks to recall events and individuals sometimes hidden, but never forgotten, in the quest for equality.

Tuscaloosa was the seat of Alabama State government from 1826 to 1846. The Alabama legislature, meeting in Tuscaloosa, passed the Slave Code of 1833 consisting of forty-two regulations to further restrict the mobility and limited freedoms of enslaved people and persons of color. This more stringent code, like those used widely in other southern states, reflected white views of blacks as undeserving of basic human rights and strictly regulated assembly, travel, education, employment, and marriage. They were aimed at curbing the rising number of runaways, preventing rebellions,

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and maximizing profits for the owners of enslaved people.

After the Civil War and the formal end of slavery, the promise of racial equality was never fully realized. While the era of Reconstruction brought unprecedented freedoms to blacks, including the right to vote and enjoy due process under the law, it was short lived.

A rash of new laws put in place by the state legislature in the late 1800s restricted the liberties of blacks in new ways. And what could not be legislated was often accomplished through violence and terror. The Ku Klux Klan and similar groups began to use physical assault and lynching as a way to subjugate blacks, control their labor, and prevent them from voting and moving freely. Blacks remained second-class citizens until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Timeline:

1819 - The Alabama Constitution confers citizenship only to white males over twenty-one years old. The Constitution declares enslaved people to be property and "...oblige[s] the owner to treat them with humanity, provide food and clothing, and abstain from all injury."

1826 - The Alabama State Capitol is moved to Tuscaloosa.

1830 - The Indian Removal Act is signed by President Andrew Jackson, who sought to force southeastern Native American tribes to relocate west of Mississippi.

Ruins of the former Alabama State Capitol. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
2. Ruins of the former Alabama State Capitol.

1833 - The Alabama legislature, meeting in Tuscaloosa, passes forty-two slave codes to further restrict the mobility and limited freedoms of enslaved people. One code stated that “Any person attempting to teach a slave or free person of color to spell, read or write, will be fined $250-$500."

1837 - Chief Yoholo Micco, also known as Chief Eufaula, visits the Alabama Legislature and delivers a farewell address as he leads his people on a forced march out of the state toward the Oklahoma territory. On this "Trail of Tears," he dies en route.

1860 - Tuscaloosa County Census is published. The city has 12,971 whites, 84 freed people of color, and 10,145 enslaved people.

1884 - The first of at least ten recorded lynchings in Tuscaloosa occur. (Equal Justice Initiative, see marker in front of Old Jail)

1901 - John Knox, president of the 1901 Alabama Constitutional Convention, states that their main goal is “to establish white supremacy in this State...within the limits of the Federal Constitution." One hundred fifty-five delegates elected from across the state join him. All are white. Yet the 1900 Alabama State Census reveals a population of 1,001,152 whites and 827,307 blacks.
 
Erected 2019 by Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Task Force. (Marker Number 1.)
 
Topics.

View of Capitol Park from 28th Avenue. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
3. View of Capitol Park from 28th Avenue.
This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsParks & Recreational Areas. A significant historical year for this entry is 1826.
 
Location. 33° 12.44′ N, 87° 34.416′ W. Marker is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in Tuscaloosa County. Marker is at the intersection of 6th Street and 28th Avenue, on the right when traveling west on 6th Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2828 6th Street, Tuscaloosa AL 35401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Tuscaloosa (a few steps from this marker); Lynching in America / Lynching in Tuscaloosa County (a few steps from this marker); Clement Comer Clay (within shouting distance of this marker); Arthur P. Bagby (within shouting distance of this marker); Hugh McVay (within shouting distance of this marker); Benjamin Fitzpatrick (within shouting distance of this marker); Joshua L. Martin (within shouting distance of this marker); John Murphy (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tuscaloosa.
 
Also see . . .  What Once Stood In This Historic Alabama Park Is Nothing Short Of Amazing (with photos). (Submitted on January 23, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Floor plan relief map near the ruins of the former State Capitol. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
4. Floor plan relief map near the ruins of the former State Capitol.
 
Nearby Lynching in Tuscaloosa marker noted in timeline. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, January 19, 2020
5. Nearby Lynching in Tuscaloosa marker noted in timeline.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 23, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 469 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 23, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Mar. 1, 2024