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Birmingham City Council hosts premier of documentary on city’s 1963 transition in government

Pictured, front standing from left, Council President Roderick V. Royal, Antris Hinton, Aldrich Gunn, Elias Hendricks, Valerie Abbott, Byron Davis, Linda Coleman, Pat Sewell and Jeff Germany. Standing, back row, Frank Adams Jr., Melva Langford, Mike Graffeo, Alan Drennen, Lashunda Scales, Johnathan Austin, Kim Rafferty, David Herring. Back, standing, Steven Hoyt and Jay Roberson

Special to The Times

The Birmingham City Council hosted the community and former city leaders last week for the premier of Fifty, a documentary on the transition of government in 1963 from the Commission form to the Mayor-Council form of government.

The event on August 22 began with a reception at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and was followed by a program recognizing former mayors and council members and the showing of the film, produced by David Tucker of Peep This Entertainment.

Birmingham in 1963 struggled with ending its longtime system of government, led by iconic segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor. Changing the form of government and removing Connor from office was a key factor in bringing an end to segregated policies and practices sanctioned by the city.

The first council included eight men and one woman. Most were considered moderates and were supported by the business community. They were George Seibels, Nina Miglionico, M. Edwin Wiggins, John Golden, E.C. “Doc” Overton, Alan Drennen, John Bryan, Tom Woods and John Hawkins.

Several former council members were present for the event including Alan Drennen, the only living member of the first Birmingham City Council. Others present included Aldrich Gunn, Mike Graffeo, Frank Adams Jr., Elias Hendricks, Pat Sewell, Byron Davis, David Herring, Bill Myers,  Antris Hinton, Linda Coleman, Jeff Germany, and Betty Fine Collins.  Melva Langford, wife of former councilman and Mayor Larry Langford, was there to represent her husband.

Following the viewing of the documentary, former Birmingham News Managing Editor Carol Nunnelley and attorney J. Mason Davis led a discussion with current council members on the future of city government.