Brighton is located in south-central Jefferson County in the central part of the state. It is named for the seaside resort town on England’s southeastern coast.
The town of Brighton arose along a streetcar line built by the Bessemer and Birmingham Railroad between those two cities in 1889. Lots were sold along the line beginning in 1892, and by 1901, some 100 families lived there. Brighton incorporated that same year and was home to several grocery stores, a furniture store, and other businesses by this time. In August 1908, African American miner and labor activist William Miller was arrested as a suspect in the bombing of another man’s home; he was taken from the jail by a group of white townspeople and lynched. In 2015, the Equal Justice Initiative dedicated a historic marker at the location.
The town’s economy was closely linked to the Woodward Iron Company from its earliest days; when the company closed down in 1979, the town suffered a severe economic downturn. In August 2011, the city defaulted on $1.12 million in warrants issued in 2003.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Brighton recorded a population of 2,873. Of that number, 82.4 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 12.4 percent as Hispanic, 4.4 percent as white, 0.9 percent as two or more races, 1.2 percent as American Indian, and 0.2 percent as Asian. The town’s median household income was $28,906, and the per capita income was $17,138.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Brighton was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (24.3 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (14.4 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (14.3 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (10.3 percent)
- Retail trade (10.0 percent)
- Public administration (6.3 percent)
- Construction (5.3 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (5.3 percent)
- Manufacturing (4.8 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (3.0 percent)
- Information (2.0 percent)
Schools in Brighton are part of the Jefferson County School District; the town has one middle school. The city lies within 10 miles of five colleges and universities, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham-Southern College.
Interstate Highway 59, running north, lies approximately one mile west of Brighton. The city is about 10 miles southwest of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
Jefferson County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Jefferson County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2002.
White, Marjorie Longenecker. The Birmingham District: An Industrial and Historic Guide. Birmingham, Ala.: Birmingham Historical Society, 1981.