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Children’s Book on Birmingham’s First Black Mayor Penned UAB’s Hailey Mason

Hailey Mason recently published, “A is for Arrington,” providing young readers insight into the life of the former mayor. (Provided)

Times staff report

When looking for a children’s book on a local African American hero, Hailey Mason initially couldn’t find one on Richard Arrington Jr., Ph.D., the first African American mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.

Hailey Mason (UAB Photo)

“I volunteered at some local [Birmingham] elementary schools and I wanted to do a segment on local Black history figures and I went to Amazon to find a children’s book on Dr. Arrington and I didn’t see one,” she said earlier this year. “That just kind of got my gears going and I started just thinking about ways I could reach out to him, how I could do the children’s book, how could I condense so much information down to a children’s level.”

Mason said she became more inspired after meeting Arrington. “Through research, I came to know him as a prominent leadership figure and felt the children’s book was an avenue to tell his story.”

Mason recently published, “A is for Arrington,” providing young readers insight into the life of the former mayor. Writing became a form of self-expression in high school, but Mason never imagined herself writing a children’s book, she said.

After not finding a book on local Black heroes “it made me realize there was a gap in children’s education,” said Mason, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration through the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “When deciding where to start with telling these stories, I thought of Arrington because of his history and leadership in Birmingham.”

Sharing the weight of Black history in the United States is not always easily translated to children, said the author. To overcome this, she focused her story on one attribute Arrington exhibited – leadership, his legacy in a racially charged Birmingham, she said.

“In telling his story, I didn’t focus on the heaviness. I chose to focus on his leadership in the face of adversity, and I hope that his story inspires the next generation,” Mason said. “It’s important to remember the impact of his legacy and the barriers he broke.”

In “A Is For Arrington,” Mason takes children on an educational journey through the alphabet. Each letter unveils a facet of Arrington’s story, celebrating his trailblazing achievements and contributions to Birmingham’s history and brings Arrington’s legacy to life.

The former mayor told WBRC Fox 6 he feels especially honored to be highlighted and he hopes the book inspires children to engage in reading and history at a young age.

“Learn history wherever you can,” he told WBRC. “Learn all you can about your history. Learn as early as you can. Learn about the place that’s a part of you because it tells a story of who you really are.”

Mason said her book showcases a historical figure who may not receive as much attention as many other prominent Black figures like Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, Jr. A lot of times in cities with so much history like Birmingham, historical figures may become lost, but she wants children to grow up knowing these people, she said.

“My goal is for kids who drive past Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard or walk the halls at Richard Arrington, Jr. Elementary to know why he was important to Birmingham,” she said.

Hailey is also a driving force behind Serial Entrepreneur Branding, where innovation, passion, and expertise converge to shape the destinies of small businesses.

“Our mission at Serial Entrepreneur Branding is simple yet powerful – to empower small businesses in discovering and refining their unique brand identities,” she writes on her website. “Whether you’re just starting out or looking to revitalize your brand, we offer a range of customized marketing services tailored to meet your specific needs … At Serial Entrepreneur Branding, we don’t just create brands; we cultivate experiences, build relationships, and transform visions into reality.”
Mason’s resume extends beyond the world of marketing, as she is also a co-owner of K and C Pet Pastry Company, a venture she shares with her business partner, Kristen Johnson.

Founded in 2022, K and C, promotes healthy and joyful pet lifestyles and serves as “a hub for pet parents seeking nourishing, flavorful options for their beloved companions.”

The K and C website can be found here and you can purchase  ‘A is for Arrington,’ you can visit Mason’s website here.