HUNTSVILLE, Ala - A Huntsville historic site is getting new life. Officials broke ground today for the Councill School Memorial Park. It will be built on the site of the first public school in Huntsville for African-American students.
It may be dreary outside, but it was bright inside the library in downtown Huntsville where the groundbreaking ceremony took place.
"It is a grand day for the groundbreaking on the inside," proclaimed Laura Clift, William Hooper Council Alumni Association member.
Former students, residents, and city officials gathered to honor the legacy of William Hooper Councill, a man freed from slavery who started Alabama A & M University.
"Trained himself at the highest level to work in religion, Reverend Councill, in education, Doctor Councill, and he was an attorney and election official," stated Brenda Chunn, WHAA President.
They say it's important to memorialize their time at the school.
"Things happen in our past that we don't want to forget," explained former student, Roosevelt Love. "You want to hang onto those memories that help make you what you are,"
Currently, the school's doors are boarded up; windows are broken.
But the site won't look like this for long. Renderings show what the park will look like.
"The park will be included with historic markers," Mayor Tommy Battle added. "Bricks from the school will be re-purposed as seats, and walls and columns throughout the park."
Members of the alumni association want the park to be a place of restoration and reflection.
"Reflection on where we were, where we are, and where we still have to go," Chunn said.
Getting to this point has been a process several years in the making. WHCAA members say they look forward to construction beginning during the Spring of 2019.