Dr. Ethel Hall, author of My Journey: A Memoir of the First African American to Preside Over the Alabama Board of Education, was praised by several newspapers for her commitment to quality education for the state’s children. In his column for the Birmingham News, John Archibald noted Hall’s legacy as one of concern for children over all other considerations:
“As a 7-year-old she came to live with relatives in North Birmingham so she could get schooling unavailable to her in rural Madison County. She remembers teachers who made students read with inflection, who seemed harsh but pushed her to excel long into life.
So it hurts when she sees students who can’t expect the same learning she got in Birmingham 75 years ago.
‘It’s just sad,’ Hall said. And it’s made sadder because too many people run for school boards with no notion of what that job is about. They don’t read, she said. They don’t study. They don’t prepare. . . .’
And that ought to be Hall’s legacy, I think. Serving on a school board should be an honor and responsibility, but not a stepping stone.”
Arnold’s endorsement of Dr. Hall’s focus on the children is an important reminder of the commitment anyone working in the field of education should have. It also underscores the current malaise affecting many school systems, which fail to provide the quality of education Dr. Hall experienced as a child many years ago.
Also in the Birmingham News, Jeremy Gray recalled Hall’s career in an article on her appearance at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on September 30, where a reception in her honor was held.
And The Talladega Daily Home called Hall a “living legend” and her memoir “a touching testimony of dedication and courage.”
The attention given by these newspapers to Dr. Hall is evidence of her remarkable reputation and record as an advocate for children and for excellence at all levels of education in the state, a story which is told more fully in her book.