City unveils statue of Dr. William Hooper Councill
Published on December 23, 2020
Dr. William Hooper Councill has returned to the grounds of the former high school that bears his name.
A statue of Dr. Councill, commissioned by the City of Huntsville, now proudly welcomes alumni and visitors to the William Hooper Councill School Park on St. Clair Avenue in Downtown Huntsville. The park opened in fall 2019 as a tribute and memorial to the hundreds of African-American students who studied there during the era of segregation.
“Dr. Councill’s legacy and the legacy of the students who were educated on this site will not be forgotten,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “From this day forward, Dr. Councill will forever welcome students to a bright future made possible by education.”
The statue was created by Huntsville sculptor Dan Burch to recognize the African-American leader and the role he played in promoting education. Dr. Councill was the founder and first president of what became Alabama A & M in 1875. A former slave, he rose to become a lawyer, newspaper editor, legislator and Alabama Supreme Court Justice.
Burch said he was inspired by Dr. Councill’s life and accomplishments. “It was an honor to do this statue and to be a part of this project,” he said. “What I learned about Dr. Councill is incredible. What a great spirit and unique individual who inspired so many to achieve.”
The statue of Dr. Councill now stands in a recreated schoolhouse doorway where the principal would have greeted students each day. In one hand, he’s holding a book, a symbol of the day’s learning to come.
“We extend the appreciation of the William Hooper Councill Alumni Association (WHCAA) to Dan Burch for his outstanding workmanship, attention to detail, and commitment to quality in this sculpture,” said Brenda Chunn, President of the WHCAA. “As we participate in the unveiling of the statue of Dr. Councill, we can embrace the feeling of being visible and valued in the Huntsville community. The Christmas Season is a wonderful time to acknowledge these feelings.”
Burch has been commissioned to create another monument for Councill High Park. This one will be a bronze statue of four children heading to class.
Councill High Memorial Park is located at 620 St. Clair Avenue, Huntsville 35801.