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Shelby County Reporter

November, 26, 2023

Shelby County is home to approximately 216,350 residents, some of Alabama's most prosperous neighborhoods, and the state's largest population of professional workers. Despite being the fastest growing county in Alabama, Shelby County is slow to change its ways. This special edition of the Shelby County Reporter explores the history of oppression that has shaped Shelby County, and how residents are battling that legacy to make changes for diversity, inclusion, and justice.

Shelby County Reporter

February 7, 1818

Act of Alabama Territorial General Assembly Approved:Shelby County Now Establised

Top Stories

Shelby County was created by an act of the Alabama Territorial General Assemby that was approved February 7, 1818, two years before Alabama became a state. Originally the largest county in the state, Shelby County was named after Isaac Shelby, the first governor of Kentucky and Revolutionary War hero. The original county boundaries were made up of lands aquired from the Creek Indians after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Most of the first settlers of Shelby County were from Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Many of these settlers had served under General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and later returned to the region with their families. Acoording to the census of 1820, two years after it was established, the county contained 2,492 people; 2,044 Caucasian and 448 African American.Shelby County has a long history in agriculture, cotton dominated agriculture until about 1900, when farmers diversified into corn, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, and vegetables. Early white settlers also took advantage of the abundant minerals in the area, specifically iron ore and coal.

Pictured: The first Shelby County Courthouse, built by Thomas Amis Rogers, Alabama's first Secretary of State. He represented the county in the state's first Constituational Convention in 1819.

Shelby County Reporter

In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was unconstitutional. Section 4 implemented a coverage formula that determined which voting districts were required to recieve pre-clearance from the federal government. Without this clause, states with long histories of voter suppression are able to make legal changes to the voting process without any opposition. In this lawsuit, Shelby County successfully argued that states with a history of opression and racism no longer needed government oversight of voting practices because, "that was a long time ago" and no longer had these discriminatory practices. However, since the 2013 decision of Shelby County v. Holder, the state of Alabama has

June 25, 2013

The Battle For Voting Rights Never Ended In Albama:Shelby County v. Holder


implemented laws and policies that suppress the vote including, passing a voter ID law, closing polling places in predominately Black areas, and purging hundreds of thousands of people from voter rolls.

Voting is a fundamental right that should be guaranteed to all. Many people lost their lives in pursuit of the Voting Right Act of 1965, so they and their children could vote in a free and fair election, for their voices to be heard. It is appauling to know that becuase of racist legislators from my hometown, states are now able to legally discriminate against minorities and deprive citizens of their right to vote.

Shelby County Reporter

June 8, 2020

Remembering, Recognition and Reconciliation

Marker Commemorating Racial Terror Lynchings Unvieled in Shelby County

On June 8, 2020, the Montevallo Community Remembrance Coalation unveiled a historical marker recognizing two unnamed African American men who were victims of lynching in Shelby County in 1899.

Montevallo Community Remembrance Coalition

In July 2018, a community meeting was held in response to EJI's (Equal Justice Initiative) Community Remembrance Project. By October 2018, the Montevallo Community Remembrance Coalition was formed with the goal to memorialize two African American men who were lynched in 1899 in Shelby County. Although their names were not recorded, the coalition wanted to remember them with a historical marker.The Montevallo Community Remebrance Coalition engaged with other organizations in Shelby County, including the Shelby County NAACP, Montevallo Area Ministerial Association, Montevallo Historical Commission, Montevallo Progressive Alliance, Hometown Action and many other community members to raise awarenss and share opportunities for public education and conversation. The Montevallo Community Remembrance Coalition also partnered with EJI to host a Racial Justice Essay Contest for high school students in Alabama. The winning essay was written by 10th grader, Sabrina Brunner. Her essay was titled "Educational Injustices," which examined the history of disparities in access to education for children of color and how it continues to affect students across Alabama.

Shelby County Reporter

July 8,2022

Breaking Down The Brick Wall

Shelby County Historical Society

The Shelby Country Historical Society is working to transcribe these documents to create an online gallery of documents with corresponding transcriptions of the handwritten text . The goal of this project is to help break through the "1870 Brick Wall" that prevents many African Americans from discovering their ancestory before the 1870 census.

Recently, the Shelby County Museum and Archives staff, searched through the collections of their archive to find the names of people who were enslaved in Shelby County. This research created an index that has helped people around the world connect to their ancestors and their history being enslaved in Shelby County.

One of my most cherished memories is sitting with my dad and listening to him talk about our family history. I was intrigued to learn that my 14th great grandfather had sailed on the Mayflower. I loved learning about who my ancestors were and what they did. With genealogy websites, today it is easier to find your family history than ever. Learning about your ancestors, celebrating family traditions, embracing your culture, and understanding where you come from helps us gives us a sense of belonging. Learning about our family origins opens our eyes to how beautiful and unique we all are. Sadly, many people are not able to find information about their ancestors before 1870, due to "The Brick Wall."

Shelby County Reporter

There is still work to be done. Shelby County is a great place to live, which can be seen by how dedicated our community members are to making changes for diversity, inclusion, and justice in Shelby County. If you are interested in learning more about Shelby County and topics highlighted in this special addition of the Shelby County Reporter, here are a few rescources:

November 26, 2023

Just In: Change To Come In Shelby County

Call to Action

  • https://www.shelbyal.com/809/History
  • https://encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/shelby-county/
  • https://sites.uab.edu/humanrights/2020/11/02/shelby-county-v-holder-the-voting-rights-act-in-peril/
  • https://www.splcenter.org/20200210/alive-and-well-voter-suppression-and-election-mismanagement-alabama#Executive%20Summary
  • https://www.justice.gov/crt/section-4-voting-rights-act#:~:text=Section%204(a)%20of%20the%20Act%20established%20a%20formula%20to,prerequisite%20to%20register%20to%20vote.
  • https://www.aclu.org/news/voting-rights/how-we-are-protecting-the-right-to-vote-on-the-anniversary-of-shelby-v-holder
  • https://www.wbrc.com/2022/07/09/shelby-county-museum-archive-slave-index-findings/
  • https://eji.org/news/shelby-county-alabama-installs-marker-commemorating-racial-terror-lynchings/