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Councill School Alumni Association dedicates new statues at William Hooper Councill Park

Published on October 24, 2023

face of a girl in a bronze statue in an outdoor park with people gathered around

The William Hooper Councill School Alumni Association unveiled four new statues during a dedication ceremony at William Hooper Councill Park on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The unveiling represents the completion of the $1.65 million park, which opened on St. Clair Avenue in Downtown Huntsville in 2020.

The park is located on the site of the former Councill School. The City’s first public school for African-American students served the Huntsville community from 1867 until closing in the 1960s era of desegregation. The statues, commissioned by the City of Huntsville and created by artist Dan Burch, stand in tribute to the hundreds of children, from the primary grades to high school, who attended Councill during these years.

“These statues are a beautiful addition to the park, reflecting the site’s history as a place of learning while also underscoring the vital importance of access and equality in education,” said Mayor Tommy Battle.

The children are depicted approaching a columned arch that represents the entrance to the school. On the other side of the arch, stands the statue of Dr. William Hooper Councill, for whom the school was named. A former slave, he rose to become a lawyer, newspaper editor, legislator, Alabama Supreme Court Justice and founder of Alabama A&M University.

Landscape architect Chad Bostick worked with the City and the William Hooper Councill Alumni Association to create a site plan to recognize the footprint of the school building and illuminate its interior spaces. Bricks and materials salvaged from the original structure were used throughout the project.

In his comments addressing William Hooper Councill School alumni, District 1 Council Member Devyn Keith expressed his gratitude for their sacrifice and investment in making Huntsville the great city it is today.

“We are not just here to remember Black history,” said Keith. “This is Huntsville history; what you have done and the generational impact you have made is the reason Huntsville is the number one city in this nation. You are not a blip, you are the base.”

District 5 Council Member John Meredith said alumni overcame and persevered by leading their families and students to a better life through education. “Those of you who knew a segregated society in education and succeeded anyway have to be considered our greatest generation,” he said.

line of people standing outside in front of an arch and a statue in a park
Members of the William Hooper Councill School Alumni Association pose with Mayor Battle and elected leaders following the statue unveiling ceremony