Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame Logo The Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame (AMHOF) was established in 1987 to honor Alabama men whose lives and works have greatly benefitted the state, the nation, and even the world. It is located on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Jefferson County. Notable individuals who have been inducted into the hall include civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Alabama Department of Archives and History founder Thomas McAdory Owen, pioneering legislator John Sparkman, Birmingham entrepreneur and businessman Arthur George “A. G.” Gaston, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.
The idea for the AMHOF originated in 1979 with Lois Whitten, a community volunteer and one of the founders of the Women’s Committee of 100 for Birmingham. Whitten led the members of the Women’s Committee of 100, an organization whose objective is to use the knowledge, abilities, and skills of the women of Birmingham to promote the city of Birmingham and the state of Alabama, in the effort to develop the idea for the Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame. The institution was modeled after the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame at Judson College in Marion, Perry County, which had been established in 1970. Thanks to Whitten’s efforts, the Alabama State Legislature officially created the Men’s Hall of Fame in Act No. 87-717 on August 13, 1987.
In 1988, Gov. Guy Hunt created a 19-member board of directors consisting of two members each from the seven U.S. Congressional Districts, except District 6; five from District 6, consisting of members of the Women’s Committee of 100; the governor; and the director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. As resignations occur, board members nominate others for the position vacated and then vote on a replacement. Board members have full and final right of selecting succeeding members, with recommendations often coming from the outgoing board member.
Nominations for the Men’s Hall of Fame are accepted from the public. A call for nominations is issued by means of a statewide press release each year in January and is also posted on the AMHOF website with guidelines and a printable nomination form. Nominees must be men born in or closely associated with the state who have made significant contributions on a state, national, or international level. In addition, nominees must be deceased for a minimum of two years.
Samford University Library The board may select up to three inductees each year. A volunteer support team from the Women’s Committee of 100 assists the board in hosting an annual induction luncheon each September. Speakers knowledgeable about each inductee’s contributions discuss his career and accomplishments, and then memorial plaques in the likeness of the inductees are unveiled at the ceremony. Nominees who are not selected for induction are kept on file, and a letter of re-nomination written to the board members the next year or in subsequent years can reactivate the nomination file for reconsideration.
Funds for the Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame are appropriated annually by the Alabama State Legislature and vary depending on the availability of state funding. Other funds come from fees paid to attend the induction ceremony. Board members serve voluntarily, with the only paid staff member being a part-time executive secretary. Samford University partners with AMHOF and offers support services, such as maintaining a link on their Web site. AMHOF and its office are housed in Samford’s Harwell G. Davis Library; there is a gallery of bronze plaques bearing images of the inductees on the second floor.
The stated vision of AMHOF is to educate the American public about important men in Alabama history, and a biography of each inductee is posted on the Web site. The Alabama State Department of Education curriculum for fourth-grade students includes the study of Alabama history, and many of the men inducted in the Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame are included in the curriculum guide. In 2010, AMHOF and the Samford University Department of Education engaged in a pilot essay contest program for fourth-grade students to write about AMHOF inductees and their contributions to Alabama history.