Arrington Jr., Richard


1st African-American Birmingham, Alabama mayor served 1979-99


Autograph ID: 5354
Condition: Very good
Description: “(b. 1943) African-American Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama 1979-99. He has been, to date, the longest serving mayor in the city’s history and its only 5-term mayor. Under his tenure, Birmingham went from a racially divided city dependent on the steel industry to an economically and culturally diverse hub of the southeastern US. His low-key style and business alliances helped transform the city’s image and its economy. Arrington worked tirelessly to overcome Birmingham’s history of racial tension and discrimination in awarding city jobs and contracts. During his 4-term tenure on the city council (1971-79), Arrington focused his efforts on economic growth, education, and crime. Since he retired from public office, he has taught biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and continues to hold substantial influence in the community.

TLS as Mayor of Birmingham on 10 x 8 official letterhead, October 2 1980, sending this authentic personally autogaphed letter to a New York collector, welcomes him to revisit the city in future.

In the 1950s and 1960s Birmingham received national and international attention as a center of the African-American civil rights struggle. A string of racially motivated bombings earned Birmingham the derisive nickname “Bombingham”. In 1963, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth requested that Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which Shuttlesworth had co-founded, come to Birmingham, where King had once been a pastor, to help end segregation. Together they launched a massive assault on the Jim Crow system. During April and May daily sit-ins and mass marches organized and led by movement leader James Bevel were met with police repression, tear gas, attack dogs, fire hoses, and arrests of over 3,000 people, almost all high-school age children. These protests led not only to desegregation of public accommodations in Birmingham but also the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
While imprisoned for having taken part in a nonviolent protest, Dr. King wrote the now famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, a defining treatise in his cause against segregation. Birmingham is also known for a bombing which occurred later that year, in which 4 Black girls were killed by a bomb planted at the 16th Street Baptist Church.”
Type: Letter

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