The University of Alabama renamed several of its buildings in 2021, including one that now honors the institution's first Black faculty member.

Archie Wade was first employed at the Capstone in 1970, serving as an instructor of kinesiology until 2000. A graduate of Tuscaloosa's Stillman College, Wade went on to earn his doctorate degree from the University of Alabama, worked as a tenured professor, and helped to found the Black Faculty and Staff Association.

“Throughout my career I had peaks and valleys, and of all the things that happened to me, yesterday was the peak of my association with the University,” Wade said in a press release from the University. “To look at the building where I worked for 30 years and to see it bear my name and my family’s name — there is no higher peak than that. It stands as a testimony not only to me, but to my entire family and our name. The University of Alabama is a great university and I really enjoyed my time — not just with the faculty, but also with the students, many of whom I still have contact with today.”

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According to the press release, Wade also worked diligently to integrate its football program. He sat with two other Black people in a sea of white football fans in the stands of then-Denny Stadium in 1964, officially integrating the crowd for the first time. The release also indicated that Wade worked with Paul W. "Bear" Bryant to integrate the football team through the program's first-ever Black student-athlete recruitment efforts, of which he was a part.

His name now adorns the building, which houses the Department of Kinesiology, that sits on the corner of Judy Bonner Boulevard and 6th Avenue on the south end of campus. 

“Naming Wade Hall in honor of Dr. Archie Wade, The University of Alabama’s ‘Jackie Robinson,’ was one of the proudest moments of my decades-long tenure on the Board of Trustees,” said Judge John H. England Jr., trustee emeritus and chair of the Building Names Working Group, in the release. “Dr. Wade is a man of character, courage and conviction. He showed a great deal of bravery when he took the first step to integrate the faculty at UA — an act that transformed the University and paved the way for integration of minority faculty members across the entire UA System.”

The renaming process began back in September by the UA System Board of Trustees. This initiative was spearheaded by the Board's "Building Names Working Group," a task force of sorts that was created in June 2020 to "conduct a comprehensive review of named buildings, structures and spaces on UA System campuses relative to the System’s Shared Values: integrity, leadership, accountability, diversity, inclusion and respect."

In a unanimous vote, it was decided to nix the building's former name to make way for Wade's.

The choice to make Wade the building's namesake was quite a popular one. According to the release, UA community members from the Black Faculty and Staff Association, College of Education, Department of Kinesiology, and other areas of campus were staunch advocates for the alumnus. A petition was even created more than a year ago to spread the word for Wade, ultimately gathering nearly 5,500 signatures.

“Dr. Wade’s contributions to UA, the Tuscaloosa community and to the field of education will always be celebrated on our campus and Wade Hall will stand as a testament to those contributions,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell in the release. “This well-deserved honor serves as a tribute to Dr. Wade’s legendary career, and I know that this building will also be a source of inspiration for generations to come.”

For more on Archie Wade, his contributions to the University of Alabama, and the University's commitment to renaming outdatedly-adorned campus buildings, click here.

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