Tuscaloosa Renames 3 Streets After Local Civil Rights Icon, Late Business Legends
The Tuscaloosa City Council voted Tuesday to rename three roads in the city after a trio of pillars of the community including two late business leaders and a still-living icon of the local civil rights movement.
After a series of public hearings and a few split votes, the city council ultimately voted to rename 21st Avenue in honor of Robert Almon, 6th Street in honor of Gary Fitts and 11th Street in honor of Maxie Thomas.
Almon was a respected local engineer whose accomplishments included building Lake Tuscaloosa, designing the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk and touching countless municipal infrastructure projects from the expansion of 15th Street to the creation of the city's first sewage collection system. Almon, who founded the firm Almon & Associates, died at 81 in 2014.
The ordinance adopted Tuesday renames 21st Street from Jack Warner Parkway to Queen City Avenue in Almon's honor.
Travis Gary Fitts was a naval aviator in the United States Marine Corps reserves before he returned to Tuscaloosa at 26 and joined his father Jim Fitts Jr. at the Fitts Agency, Inc, an independent insurance agency that has become one of the largest in the region. Like Almon, Fitts was heavily involved in area agencies from the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama to the Rotary Club and the Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Fitts died at 88 in May 2022.
The council voted to rename 6th Street from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Queen City Avenue in Fitts' honor.
Finally, the council voted to rename 11th Street from Nick's Kids Ave. to 20th Avenue in honor of Maxie Thomas.
Thomas is a still-living local legend of the Civil Rights Movement who was among the more than 500 peaceful Black protestors who were brutally attacked during Tuscaloosa's infamous "Bloody Tuesday" in June 1964.
Thomas and the others had gathered in First African Baptist Church and were preparing to march to the brand-new Tuscaloosa County Courthouse, where segregated drinking fountains and restrooms had been installed despite promises that the new facility would be fully integrated.
Local police and angry white citizens attacked the protestors just outside the church, though. Almost 100 Black people were arrested, and more than 30 were hurt badly enough to be hospitalized, including Maxie Thomas, who nearly lost an eye in the melee.
Mayor Walt Maddox interviewed Thomas and Danny Steele about their experiences during Bloody Tuesday earlier this year.
For more from City Hall and other news about local government as it develops, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread,
Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (9/25 - 10/2)
Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)