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Huntsville City Council OKs funding for Civil Rights-leading neighborhood

HUNTSVILLE – An improvement fund allocation to honor the Civil Rights movement passed at Thursday night’s regular meeting of the Huntsville City Council, Councilman John Meredith said.

The Council Improvement fund allocation is $12,000 for the Historic Huntsville Foundation to establish the city’s first Civil Rights Historic District. The designation will recognize Lydia Drive, a 20-acre development within the Brandontown community, as the enclave of Black empowerment where most of the planning for Huntsville’s 1960s Civil Rights movement took place.

“It is a privilege to fund a National Register survey from my District 5 discretionary funds to honor the role of those who risked everything in the fight for racial equality within our city,” Meredith said. “I am honored to be in a position where I can facilitate the recognition of the work of local legends such as Dr. Sonnie Hereford, Thorton Stanley, Dr John Cashin, and Claud Martin.”

Brandontown was created in the early 1960s as Huntsville’s first Black-owned and financed modern subdivision, located near Alabama A&M University. Community residents included the city’s first Black physician to practice at Huntsville Hospital, the first Black engineer hired at Redstone Arsenal, one of the first Black Technical Supervisors at Marshall Space Flight Center, and many educators and other professionals.

“This project could not have been possible without collaboration with Donna Castellano, the Executive Director of the Historic Huntsville Foundation, and the team of experts she assembled to make this dream a reality,” Meredith said.

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