CITY NEWS SHEDDING LIGHT ON HUNTSVILLE’S HISTORY DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

By Lucy Berry DeButy, City of Huntsville

Although it was more than 40 years ago, William Hampton vividly remembers when his passion for Huntsville history became something more.

One of his high school teachers, who was not from the area, was always putting Huntsville down. To defend his community and show civic pride, Hampton wrote a term paper about his beloved city.

Despite the teacher’s personal views, he got an A. Hampton has since lost the paper, but credits that class for helping kickstart Huntsville Revisited, a collection of photos and stories on Huntsville/Madison County’s diverse past.

“I just always embraced it and didn’t realize that it was preparing me for this day here that I get to share stories of Huntsville’s history,” he said.

Black History Month presentation

Hampton, who launched the popular Huntsville Revisited Facebook page in 2008, will speak Thursday, February 27, at the Huntsville City Council’s regular meeting. His Black History Month presentation will highlight local African American history from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

From William Hooper Councill High School to the Buffalo soldiers, Hampton’s presentation will touch on individuals such as Dred Scott, Bartley Harris, O.W. Gurley, Fred Berry, Alex Haley and more.

Hampton described his talk as a “front porch experience” of people, places and events in Huntsville’s history.

Some of their stories have been left out of our history books.” – William Hampton “

It’s an honor anytime your city recognizes you, but also just an honor for me to be able to come and share the stories of these prominent citizens,” he said. “Some of their stories have been left out of our history books.”

Huntsville Revisited’s legacy

Since starting the Huntsville Revisited Facebook page, Hampton has gained nearly 21,000 likes from people of all ages and backgrounds.

While lauding the rocket scientists and “well-to-do” who made Huntsville great, he also acknowledges the lesser-known individuals and groups who quietly helped build the city we know today.

“Our ancestors who were the common folk, the ‘Everyday People’ if you please, had just as much to do with the growth and successes associated with Huntsville/Madison County, Alabama,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Devyn Keith, currently the youngest-serving Council president in Huntsville’s history, is one of Huntsville Revisited’s fans. Keith, 31, hopes the presentation will shed light on our past, present and future as Black History Month comes to a close.

“We have to represent and recognize the good and the bad of our history and the beauty that we are progressing ever more,” he said. “Mr. Hampton gives us an opportunity to have a real-life historian who can help us recognize the strides we’ve made and those individuals in our community who are continuing to make strides currently.”