Cullman kicks off Alabama bicentennial celebration

W.C. Mann

CULLMAN – Choirs sang and bands played as the city of Cullman officially kicked off its observance of the 200th anniversary of Alabama statehood, during a ceremony at the Cullman Depot Friday afternoon.  This day was chosen, since it was on March 3, 1817 that the U.S. Congress passed the act that would lead to the creation of the Alabama Territory.

Students from West Elementary, under the direction of Ms. Keenan Fowlkes, sang the state song; while the Wallace State Jazz Band, under Ricky Burks, presented "Stars Fell on Alabama" and other classic jazz favorites.  Dignitaries who welcomed guests included John Cullmann, Cullman County Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker and Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs.

Drew Green, chairman of the city's Bicentennial Committee, gave an overview of the three-year observance ahead.  He noted that each year of the celebration will focus on a different aspect of Alabama's identity:

  •      2017 – exploring our places
  •      2018 – honoring our people
  •      2019 – sharing our stories

This year, Cullman will hold historic walking tours and a 5K run featuring historic sites in the town, and will host Delos Hughes, author of “Historic Alabama Courthouses: A Century of Their Images and Stories.”

Green said of the first event coming up, "Since 2017 is the year of places, we thought how appropriate it would be to tie our walking tours into that.  Every Saturday in April at 10 a.m., we'll meet on the front steps of the museum with different leaders each week."

An early Alabama primer, for you history buffs:

Some folks are celebrating Alabama's establishment as a territory on Mar. 3, but that's not quite right.  On Mar. 3 1817, Congress passed the second of two acts that provided for the establishment of the Alabama Territory out of the eastern half of the Mississippi Territory.  Provisions in those acts, though, required that certain things happen in Mississippi before the eastern half could head out on its own.  Over the following months, Mississippi drew up a constitution and created a state government.  On October 10, 1817, everything was in place and Alabama was declared a separate U.S. territory.  Two years later, on December 14, 1819, Alabama became a state.

This span of time, from the passing of the congressional acts to Alabama statehood, was used to establish the period of the state's bicentennial celebration.

Green is ready for that celebration.  "We're having a lot of fun," he said.  "I have a really good committee; everybody works well together and tries to help out.  Everything's just falling into place, so I'm excited about it.  I'm looking forward to the next three years."

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