Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa
The University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, played a huge role in the Civil Rights Movement when Governor George Wallace blocked two African American students from registering for classes by standing in the door of Foster Auditorium. The new outdoor plaza is named after these students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, and the clock tower is named after Autherine Lucy, the first African American student to enroll in the school.
Tuscaloosa served as the first state capitol from 1826 to 1846. After the state government relocated to Montgomery, the building served as the Alabama Central Female College. The original building burned in 1932; however, the remains of the foundation and the columns can be seen in downtown Tuscaloosa.
Muskogean for “Black Warrior,” Chief Tuskaloosa is the namesake of Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County and the Black Warrior River, which runs through the city. Well-known for standing up to Hernando de Soto, Chief Tuskaloosa defended his city valiantly. Native American influences are prevalent in the area, as seen at Moundville Archaeological Park.
The Druid City
Tuscaloosa boasts several nicknames: Title Town, The City of Champions and Druid City. The first two stem from The University of Alabama’s winning tradition, but the last one is a nod to days long gone. The Druids were the priests in ancient Celt culture. The Druids performed their secret worship rituals deep in oak forests because oaks were considered sacred. Before modern-day development took place, Tuscaloosa’s streets were all oak-lined, and the city was in an oak forest prior to city development.
Moundville Archaeological Park
Moundville Archaeological Park is the site of an ancient Mississippian culture that was occupied from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1450. Twenty-six mounds surround a central plaza, which can be viewed from the top of two of the mounds. The mounds are somewhat of a mystery, because no evidence exists to explain the reasoning behind building the mounds. Explore what evidence does exist and learn about the Native American culture in West Alabama by touring the Jones Archaeological Museum.
Tuscaloosa’s thriving arts scene culminates in one night every month with First Friday. Downtown art galleries, stores and restaurants have extended hours during the month to encourage residents and visitors to see what Tuscaloosa is all about. Galleries often host receptions for current exhibits during this time.
The third weekend in October is a busy one in Tuscaloosa, as visitors and artists from all over the country convene in T-town for the Kentuck Festival. Kentuck is a gathering of artists who showcase all kinds of art, from letterpress to metal working to basket weaving. For those who can’t make the festival, the Kentuck Arts Center hosts classes, exhibits and art nights year-round.
The Paul W. Bryant Museum
Any man who can wrestle a bear, win six national championships and start a fashion trend that outlives him deserves a museum, and Paul W. Bryant meets all those requirements. With a record-setting 323 wins as a college coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant can “tell you about football.” This museum exists as a testament to his legacy as a coach and a man, and Alabama football as a whole.
The University of Alabama
Since its establishment in 1831, The University of Alabama has had a major impact on the state’s history. From surviving the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement to being the home of college football’s most highly-decorated team, The University of Alabama is a place where people from all over the world come to get a first-class education with a dose of Southern hospitality and to hear a friendly “Roll Tide!”
Tuscaloosa has been home to Mercedes-Benz since 1996. The plant manufactures the M-Class, R-Class, GL-Class, and soon, the C-Class models. The plant, located in Vance, hosts factory tours and also has a transportation museum and gift shop for visitors.
The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater has had an impressive lineup since opening in 2011. The 7,470-seat venue has seen Train, The Backstreet Boys, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley and countless others. The Amp is located at the end of Tuscaloosa’s Riverwalk, a paved area along the Black Warrior River that provides residents and visitors a great place to host outdoor events or enjoy the beautiful scenery.