HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - On Friday, the William Hooper Councill Alumni Association broke ground on a memorial park celebrating Huntsville’s first public school for African-Americans.
Councill High School opened in 1867 and closed in the era of desegregation in the 1960s. The school was named after Dr. William Hooper Councill, a former slave and founder and first president of what would become Alabama A&M University. Councill also became a lawyer, newspaper editor, legislator and Alabama Supreme Court justice.
Crews will start work on a memorial park in 2019, on the school’s old site.
Members of the alumni association spoke about what the school means to them.
“We found friendship in William Hooper Councill High School, and we found affection," said Brenda Chunn, president of the William Hooper Councill Alumni Association.
“It’s important because African-American history sometimes gets lost, and this is a way of preserving the heritage of the African-Americans, particularly with the celebration of the bicentennial that is coming up,” said Laura Clift, an alumni of Councill High School.
Officials say the memorial park will mirror the school’s floor plan, with the gym, auditorium, cafeteria and classrooms all represented in the park’s layout.
In the next few weeks, contractors will start salvaging bricks from the old school to incorporate in the memorial.