Dedication of the Justice Hugo Black Monument and Park

Justice Hugo Black Monument

Senior U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson and Yale Law School’s Sterling Professor of Law Akhil Reed Amar were keynote speakers at the dedication of the Hugo Black Monument and Park in Ashland, Alabama on October 15, 2022.

The dedication capped two days of events in Birmingham and Ashland celebrating the career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, one of the nation’s foremost champions of free speech and the constitutional rights of the weak, helpless and outnumbered.

Judge speaking at dedication
Former U.S. Magistrate Judge Vanzetta Penn McPherson

On Friday, October 14, a symposium on Justice Black was held in Birmingham at the Cumberland School of Law on the campus of Samford University. Panelists include scholars and leading figures in law, civil rights and media: retired U.S. Judge U.W. Clemon, former U.S. Senator Doug Jones, retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Vanzetta McPherson, former New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines, former Alabama Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, who clerked for Justice Black, Lynda K. Walker, CEO of the Tax Council Policy Institute, Professor Bryan Fair of the University of Alabama School of Law, Professor John Carroll of Cumberland School of Law, and Steve Suitts, author of Hugo Black of Alabama.  

Following the Friday seminar in Birmingham, “Amarica’s Constitution with Akhil Amar”, one of the nation’s top podcasts on Constitutional law was taped with the seminar audience at Cumberland.  Professor Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University and one of the nation’s leading authorities on the Constitution, was joined by co-host Andy Lipka. They led the audience in a discussion of “Hugo Black’s Originalism and Today’s Originalist Justices.”  Their podcast offers weekly in-depth discussions on the most urgent and fascinating constitutional issues of the day.

The dedication events moved to Justice Black’s hometown of Ashland, Alabama Saturday, October 15th. Inside the Hugo Black Courtroom of the Clay County Courthouse, a portrait of Justice Black by Semmie Knox, the first black artist to paint an official presidential portrait, was officially unveiled with members of the Black family present. Senior U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson and Professor Amar keynoted the dedication.

Judge speaking at dedication
Senior U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson.

Hosted by the Hugo Black Fund, a tax-exempt charity, the dedication was an occasion for citizens to join together in recognizing Justice Black’s contributions to Alabama and the nation. The Monument and Park in Ashland, Alabama are located on the site of the old family homeplace where Justice Black grew up and came of age until he moved to Birmingham in 1906. They are within sight of the historic Clay County Courthouse, where atop its cupola Lady Justice holds her scales.

Click here to watch videos of the Public Dedication and Sympoisum.

Original article from the Hugo Black digital library. Contact Melanie McCraney for more information.