Alabama Writers Hall of Fame Announces Inaugural Class

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A University of Alabama professor has been selected to the inaugural class of the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame.

Rick Bragg, professor of writing in UA’s College of Communication and Information Services, is a New York Times bestselling author whose memoirs include “All Over But the Shoutin’” and “Ava’s Man.” Bragg is one of 12 Alabama writers selected for induction in June 2015.

“In a state where great writers seem born from the red clay, I am deeply honored and humbled to be included among them in this fine honor,” Bragg said. “My people have discovered many things in that dirt — from coal to iron ore to cotton. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they raised at least one writer from it.”

The Alabama Center for the Book and the Alabama Writers’ Forum have partnered to create the state’s first comprehensive Alabama Writers Hall of Fame. Dr. Louis Pitschmann, dean of UA libraries and director for the Alabama Center for the Book, and Jeanie Thompson, executive director of the Alabama Writers’ Forum, said the time has come for significant recognition of the state’s creative literary talent.

“The Alabama Writers Hall of Fame will generate awareness of literary works written in Alabama from the early days of our state to the present,” Thompson said. “The first class includes writers known internationally for their contribution to literary arts across all genres.”

In addition to Bragg, the first class for the hall of fame includes Johnson Jones Hooper (1815-1862), Augusta Jane Evans Wilson (1835-1909), Helen Keller (1880-1968), Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) and William March (1894-1954). Two recently deceased authors, Albert Murray (1916-2013) and Helen Norris Bell (1916-2013), are also being inducted along with additional 20th century authors: Andrew Glaze, Harper Lee, Sonia Sanchez and Sena Jeter Naslund. Lee and Bell graduated from UA, and March attended the UA School of Law.

The Alabama Writers Hall of Fame aims to share the deep literary history of the state. With a rich and diverse list of writers to honor, the Alabama Center for the Book and the Alabama Writers Forum have a proactive plan to keep the state’s authors vibrant and relevant in the digital age, organizers said. The first class of honorees is a building block toward the future.

“Other plans for the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame include design and production of a traveling display suitable for a number of public venues, and the development of public programs and educational curricula associated with the hall of fame,” Pitschmann said.

An advisory committee of scholars, writers and arts volunteers met in June 2014 to consider a field of nominees and name the first class of inductees.

The Alabama Center for the Book is the Alabama affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book and is housed in the University of Alabama Libraries at UA. Starting in 1984, the Center for the Book in the Library began to establish affiliate centers in the 50 states.

Today, there is a state center for the book in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These affiliates carry out the national center’s mission in their local areas, sponsor programs that highlight their area’s literary heritage, and call attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy and libraries.

The Alabama Writers’ Forum in Montgomery is a partnership program of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. A not-for-profit organization, the Forum promotes writers, literary publishing, and literary arts education statewide.