Huntsville City Schools breaks ground on new Sonnie Hereford Elementary

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A civil rights leader called it one of the best days of his life, as Huntsville City Schools broke ground on the campus bearing his name.

State, county and city officials joined Dr. Sonnie Hereford III at Tuesday’s ceremony on Barbara Drive.

In 1963, Hereford and his then 6-year-old son became the first to integrate an Alabama public school.  It is considered one of the pivotal moments in the civil rights movement.

More than 50 years later, the city school system is recognizing that contribution by naming its newest building Sonnie Hereford Elementary, in honor of the father-son duo.

The school is expected to open in 2016 on the site of the former Terry Heights Elementary.  It will replace University Place Elementary. The University Place property will then be sold to UAHuntsville.