Guide to Birmingham Statues – the people edition

Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham Alabama
Brother Bryan at Five Points South – photo by Pat Byington

Welcome to the Bham Now Guide to Birmingham statues. This edition features statues honoring  people.

When it comes to famous icons, Birmingham is recognized globally for the “big guy” – Vulcan – the largest cast iron statue in the world. But, as statues go, Vulcan has got plenty of company in the Magic City. There is Alabama Power’s Electra, “The Storyteller” at Five Points South, Bear Bryant at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and many, many more.

For the next couple of weeks, join Bham Now as we guide you, our readers, on a tour of Birmingham statues and monuments. It will be fun, informative and inspirational

In this edition of our Birmingham Statues Guide, we are focusing on statues of people who built this community, entertained us, and literally risked and gave their lives to move us forward.

Join us on the tour.

Kelly Ingram Park

If you are looking for monuments and statues in Birmingham, the most inspirational place to visit is Kelly Ingram Park.  Newly designated as part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, the park is surrounded by civil rights landmarks, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church and the A.G. Gaston Motel. At the entrance of the park, in front of the 16th Street Baptist Church, there is a beautiful memorial remembering the “Four Little Girls.”

Four Spirits Memorial

Birmingham Alabama
Four Spirits Memorial at the entrance of Kelly Ingram Park in front of 16th Street Baptist Church – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

At another entrance is the Three Ministers Kneeling monument.

Three Ministers Kneeling

Birmingham Alabama
Entrance at Kelly Ingram Park – Photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Alongside, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a statue of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, the new namesake of the Birmingham International Airport. Shuttlesworth, the local leader of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, survived beatings and bombing of his home.

Fred Shuttlesworth

Birmingham Alabama
Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, civil rights pioneer – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

A few steps from the “Four Spirits” memorial is the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue.

Martin Luther King, Jr 

Birmingham Alabama
Martin Luther King , Jr Statue at Kelly Ingram Park – photo by Pat Byington
UAB’s Founders at the Mini-Park

Just off University Boulevard at UAB’s Mini-Park is a row of statues honoring the men who helped found and build UAB.  The statues are of Samuel Richardson Hill, Joe Volker and Scotty McCallum. The first three Presidents at UAB, these men were instrumental in making UAB a world class teaching and research institution. Today, UAB is the largest employer in Birmingham.

Samuel Richardson Hill, Jr

Birmingham Alabama
Samuel Richardson Hill, Jr, President of UAB in the 70s & 80s – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Charles “Scotty” McCallum

Birmingham Alabama
Charles “Scotty” McCallum – President of UAB in 80s & 90s – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Joe Volker

Birmingham Alabama
Joe Volker, first President at the UAB – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now
The Benefactor

Ralph Waldo Beeson has been described as “a titanic figure” in Samford University’s history. The namesake of Beeson Divinity School, several structures on campus are also named after members of his family. Beeson is honored with this unassuming and beloved statue near the front entrance of the campus.

Ralph Waldo Beeson 

Birmingham Alabama
Statue of Ralph Waldo Beeson at Samford University – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now
Humanitarian

Located at the heart of Birmingham’s 5 Points is a statue of Brother Bryan. One of Birmingham’s most iconic statues, Brother Bryan, the Third Presbyterian Church minister, started his ministry in the late 1880s.  He is best remembered for his tireless efforts to help the poor and homeless. A funny story; according to Bhamwiki, when Father Bryan, the humble minister, was asked about the statue and the attention it drew – Bryan responded:

“It will be out there fighting the devil when I’m gone.”

Brother Bryan

Birmingham Alabama
Brother Bryan at Five Points South – photo by Pat Byington
Birmingham Alabama
Brother Bryan at 5 Points South – photo by Pat Byington
Sports Figures

Birmingham is a sports town, and that is reflected in the many statues erected throughout the community. In fact, you’ve got statues of one of the greatest baseball players of all time and three college football head coaches who were all arguably the best ever at their profession.

Willie Mays

The “Say-Hey Kid” smashed 660 homers in the majors.  A native of Birmingham, he played for the Birmingham Black Barons before joining the New York Giants.

Birmingham Alabama
Willie Mays Statue at Regions Field – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now
Birmingham Alabama
Willie Mays Statue at Regions Field

Paul Bryant and Ralph Jordan

The Bear and Shug, two legendary head coaches, stand tall in front of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Together, the two coaches made Birmingham and the state of Alabama, the capital of college football.

 

Birmingham Alabama
Statue of Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant and Auburn’s Shug Jordan at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Birmingham Alabama
Statue of Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant and Auburn’s Shug Jordan at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

Bobby Bowden

Samford University graduate and head coach, Bowden went on to become the 4th winningest college football coach of all-time. This statue is located in front of the F. Page Seibert Stadium on the Samford campus.

Birmingham Alabama
Coach Bobby Bowden at Samford – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now
Music

Birmingham has a rich musical history, and it is immortalized with the Eddie Kendricks Memorial Park on the corner of 4th Ave. North and 18th Street. Kendricks was the lead singer of the storied Motown group, the Temptations.

Eddie Kendricks Memorial Park

Birmingham Alabama
Eddie Kendricks, lead singer of the Temptations – photo by Pat Byington
Birmingham Alabama
Eddie Kendricks and the Temptations – photo by Pat Byington
Linn Park Monuments

Much like Kelly Ingram Park, Linn Park is filled with statues that include our county’s namesake – Thomas Jefferson and a courageous city councilwoman “Miss Nina” Miglionico.

Thomas Jefferson

“Miss Nina” Miglionico

Birmingham Alabama
Nina Miglionico at Linn Park – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Who did we miss?  Feel free to let us know at hello@bhamnow.com

Next up – Public Art 

Our next guide featuring Birmingham’s monuments and statues will focus on  public art.  Here is a preview of one of our favorites.

Birmingham Alabama
Photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

 

 

 

 

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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