Although Charles H. Land was born in Memphis, Tennessee, he grew up in Tuscaloosa, attending public schools in the community as well as The University of Alabama before joining the United States Army.
Upon leaving the army, Land embarked upon a successful newspaper career, spent primarily with the Tuscaloosa News. He served in positions that included sports editor, general manager, editor, and associate publisher. In 1978, he succeeded James B. Boone, Jr. as publisher.
Land served as president of the Alabama Press Association, president and board member of the APA Journalism Foundation, and on the board of the Southern Newspaper Association.
As an active civic leader, Land played significant roles in economic and industrial development while publisher and was a loyal supporter of The University of Alabama.
He played a key role in combining the Tuscaloosa and Northport chambers of commerce, serving as chamber president twice and as chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.
Land also served as a member and as chairman of The University of Alabama's President's Cabinet, member emeritus of the College of Communications' Board of Visitors, and received the Julia and Henry Tutwiler Award, the Communication Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award, and an Honorary Membership in the "A" Club Alumni Association.
A lifelong Tuscaloosa County resident, Joseph Mallisham is known as a social and community activist, advocating for individual rights and justice for all.
After serving in the United States Army, Mallisham worked at R.L. Ziegler. He became involved in organized labor, helping to organize the Ziegler plant in the late 1950s and serving as the union secretary.
He studied auto mechanics at night school and took leadership courses during the early 1960s, and eventually purchased his own filling station.
At a time when racial pressures were increasing in the area, Mallisham was able to negotiate change. The integration of The University of Alabama had created issues, as had "whites only" signs erected at the new Tuscaloosa courthouse. As chairman of the Community Relations Advisory Board, was in a unique commission to ease mounting tensions in the community, and he was instrumental in mediation of a proposed boycott by a civil rights organization of local schools.
Mallisham was interested in black involvement in local politics by negotiation rather than force, and was one of three people who filed a voting rights lawsuit in 1985 alleging the at-large method of electing commissioners violated the 1965 U.S. Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit brought about change in the form of government. The three existing county commissioners drew new district lines, creating a new predominantly black district, and held a special election for the fourth seat. Mallisham ran for the new commission seat and won. He held the post until he retired in 1996, winning three consecutive terms.
Mallisham founded the Tuscaloosa Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and chaired the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the Alabama Democratic Conference as well as the 7th Congressional District. His leadership and efforts earned him great respect and recognition from a diverse list of civic, governmental and educational institutions.
President Gerald Ford appointed Mallisham to the President's Commission on Mental Health. As chairman of the West Alabama Regional Planning Commission, he was awarded the David Cochrane Award for leadership, His influence also impacted The University of Alabama President's Advisory Board, the Human Rights Commission for Bryce-Hospital, the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority, the Benjamin Barnes Branch of the YMCA, the West Alabama Health Center, and the Christ Lutheran Church.
A section of the Black Warrior Parkway was renamed in honor of him in 2005. When Mallisham died in 2008 at the age of 79, he received accolades from many people who had worked with him in government and the community. The state Senate observed a moment of silence in his honor.
Marvin Harper was a noted preservationist who lived his entire life in Northport. His work in preserving the visual and written history of Northport greatly impacted the area's heritage, historic preservation, tourism, and growth. A graduate of Tuscaloosa County High School, Harper also attended the Tuscaloosa Business College, Business College of Birmingham, and The University of Alabama. He worked at Reichold Chemical in administration management.
Known for living in the Shirley Home in downtown Northport for thirty years, Harper worked to preserve historic landmarks and homes, worked with local officials and government to invest in the community, and worked to expand beautification and restoration projects.
With a strong drive for civic pursuits, Harper served organizations throughout West Alabama in a variety of leadership roles, including the Alabama Historical Commission; Cahaba Trace Commission; Tuscaloosa County Preservation Authority (now known as the Heritage Commission) of which he helped found and headed as first chairman; the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society of which he founded and served as the first president and later executive director; Historic Preservation Commission of Northport; Northport Renaissance Commission; founder and first chairman of Kentuck Association; and a host of other organization and community associations.
Today, you can see Harper's influence throughout the community. Through the preservation of historic homes throughout Tuscaloosa County, and through organizations such as FOCUS on Senior Citizens, Friends of Historic Northport, C.H.O.M., the Northport Chamber of Commerce, Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors Bureau, and others, Harper made a lasting impact.
Born in 1890, Reuben Hall Wright, was a lawyer, circuit court judge, civic leader and longtime member of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education.
Judge Wright, a native of West Blocton, AL, was a graduate of West Blocton High School, The University of Alabama, and The University of Alabama School of Law.
Following his graduation, he established a successful law practice in Tuscaloosa. In 1947, Gov. Jim Folsom appointed Wright as a circuit court judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. He was later elected to a full term in 1948 and served 17 years.
An active, civic-minded leader, Judge Wright was involved in many key leadership roles in Tuscaloosa's development. A veteran of World War I, he earned the rank of captain in the U.S. Army and later served as Post Commander of the Tuscaloosa American Legion Post. He served as President of the Tuscaloosa Bar Association, the Greater Tuscaloosa Chamber of Commerce, and the Alabama Circuit Court Judges Association.
Judge Wright worked tirelessly on major initiatives, especially in education, health care, and transportation. He wrote the enabling bill that allowed the city and county to levy a 1-cent sales tax to finance the construction and setting up the administration of the hospital through a board of directors. As chairman of the Chamber's Highway Committee, he worked to get a new bridge across the Black Warrior River, today known as the Woolsey Finnell Bridge. Some of his greatest contributions were in education, serving more than 30 years as a member of the City Board of Education.
William H. Lanford, a Gadsden native, graduated from The University of Alabama and then served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps.
Following military service, Lanford settled in Tuscaloosa and began an insurance career, first with Metropolitan Life and then with Cotton States Life Insurance Company, where he rose to become senior vice president. From 1975 until 1999, he worked for Southland National Insurance Co., retiring as president and CEO.
Throughout his life, Lanford developed a strong sense of civic responsibility. A fair man of vision and progressive ideas, Lanford became involved at an early date with the United Way. He served and chaired many committees, and served in top leadership roles. Over his tenure of service to the community, Lanford served most civic organizations in the area, including the Tuscaloosa YMCA, American Red Cross, Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts, the United Negro College Fund, and many more.
Lanford also lent his talents to education, serving a ten-year term as a member of the City Board of Education, and five years as Chairman. He was a steady, balanced leader during a tumultuous time, including desegregation phases in the late 70s and early 80s. His leadership helped to deliver a system that would meet the needs of all children.
In 1985, Lanford was elected to the first of two terms on Tuscaloosa's new City Council, which had just transitioned from a commission to a mayor-council form of government. His steady hand as council president resulted in a smooth transition to the new form of government that was results oriented, as well as more inclusive.
As an elected official, Lanford continued to offer his leadership in volunteer roles. He served as the first chairman of Challenge 21, a visionary strategic planning initiative. He also served as chairman of the Chamber's Board of Directors, serving as co-chair of the successful Chamber task force on the Bryant-Denny Stadium expansion.