Richard Bailey, author of Neither Carpetbaggers Nor Scalawags: Black Officeholders During the Reconstruction of Alabama 1867-1878, honored the legacies of two influential African Americans recently.
In February he helped to unveil a portrait of Horace King, a former slave who became an architect and designed the distinctive spiral staircase of the Alabama Capitol building. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, King used bridge-building techniques to design the staircase so that a central support was not required. King later served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives, from 1868-71. Bailey notes that this is the first portrait of an African American that will be on permanent display in the Capitol.
Bailey also helped to dedicate the gravesite of King in LaGrange, Georgia, at the Mulberry Street Cemeteries. He told the LaGrange News that King was “a man who did so much and asked for so little,” noting that the builder helped construct the bridge that connected Columbus, Georgia and Phoenix City, Alabama.
More recently Richard Bailey spoke at the funeral of Lillie Mae Bradford, who refused to move from the front section of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested for disorderly conduct years before Rosa Parks. Bailey told the Montgomery Advertiser, “She wasn’t part of any movement, and that makes her action more outstanding.”
Neither Carpetbaggers Nor Scalawags is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.