Every day of the year, something exciting, notable, or just downright strange has happened in Alabama history.
Scroll down and check out what happened this week.
April 10, 1921
Children’s author Aileen Kilgore Henderson was born in Cedar Cove. Henderson served as an airplane engine mechanic and photo lab technician for the Women’s Army Corp during World War II before becoming an elementary school teacher. In 1995, Henderson published her first novel, The Summer of the Bonepile Monster, at the age of seventy-four. Set during a summer in rural Alabama, the novel won both the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature and the Alabama Author Award from the Alabama Library Association. Henderson has since published three more children’s books and two memoirs to great acclaim.
April 11, 1899
Synthetic organic chemist Percy Lavon Julian was born in Montgomery. Julian attended segregated public schools in Alabama for eight years, the maximum allowed to black students, and two years at the Lincoln Normal School in Marion. After earning degrees from Depauw University and Harvard University, he graduated from the University of Vienna to become only the third African American in the world to earn a PhD in chemistry. Julian’s research in the field of natural products chemistry resulted in more than 160 publications and 100 patents and he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
April 12, 1938
The Bama Theatre in Tuscaloosa opened with a parade led by the University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band before showing its first film, Bringing Up Baby, starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. With funding from city bond issues and Public Works Administration (PWA) grants, Birmingham architect David O. Whilldin designed the 1,200-seat movie theater. He selected a style now known as PWA Moderne for the exterior that contrasted with an extravagant interior described as having a feel like that of a Spanish garden on the Mediterranean. The theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and now serves as a performing arts venue, art gallery, and movie theater.
April 13, 1813
Gen. James Wilkinson seized control of Mobile from the Spanish during the War of 1812. Wilkinson surrounded Fort Carlota, now Fort Conde, with a combined army and navy force the previous day. Severely outnumbered, the Spanish commander, Capt. Cayetano Perez, surrendered without a fight. Most Americans believed that Mobile and the remainder of Spanish West Florida rightfully belonged to the United States through the terms of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. While Spain was not a belligerent in the War of 1812, Wilkinson captured the district to prevent the Spanish from supplying their British ally with aid.
April 14, 1944
US Representative Pete Jarman spoke for the United States at the celebration of Pan American Day in Santiago, Chile. A native of Greensboro and longtime member of the Alabama National Guard, Jarman represented Alabama’s Sixth district for six terms and was a senior member on Foreign Affairs Committee from 1939 to 1947. Through the Foreign Affairs Committee, he travelled extensively around the world inspecting naval bases, investigating intelligence efforts, and representing the United States at conferences. In 1949, Pres. Harry Truman nominated Jarman as US Ambassador to Australia, where he helped negotiate a mutual defense treaty between the United States, Australia, and New Zealand during the Korean War.
April 15, 1961
Approximately sixty members of the Alabama Air National Guard (ANG) secretly participated in the Bay of Pigs, a failed invasion of Cuba. In 1960, Governor John Patterson approved a request by the ANG to assist the CIA by recruiting personnel to train Cuban exiles to fly 16 Douglas B-26 Invaders disguised as the Cuban Air Force. While Americans were not meant to participate in the invasion directly, eight Alabamians volunteered to support the exhausted exiles on the final day of the invasion. Four of those men, Riley Shamburger, Wade Gray, Pete Ray, and Leo Baker died in the attack. The CIA posthumously awarded the four guardsmen the Distinguished Intelligence Cross in 1978.
April 16, 1979
World-renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson won the Pulitzer Prize for On Human Nature. Born in Birmingham, Wilson is known as the “father of biodiversity” and is the world’s leading authority on myrmecology, the study of ants. He and mathematical biologist Robert MacArthur are credited with creating the theory of island biogeography, the foundation of conservation area design, and Wilson won the Pulitzer Prize a second time in 1991 with The Ants. Throughout his life, he has won more than 100 international awards, including the National Medal of Science and the International Prize for Biology from Japan. Wilson is currently a University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard.