Historic Bethel House in Smithfield Receives New Mural

Solomon Crenshaw Jr.
For The Birmingham Times

Black Greek letter organizations, ESPN cable network and Behr Paint recently collaborated to bring a new mural to Bethel House, a landmark of the Smithfield Community.

“The Bethel House is an historical site inside the Smithfield area,” said Cory Pettway, who works for District 5 Birmingham Councilor Darrell O’Quinn. “It is used as the community center now, not only for the Smithfield Court housing community but also the (entire) Smithfield area.”

Pettway said the councilman received an email from Behr Paint asking for a project that could be done in Smithfield. Bethel House was the obvious choice, he said.

“It’s also very important because it sits on the main thoroughfare – Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Boulevard.  We know a lot of traffic goes through here daily.”

Michael Lundy,  president and CEO of the Housing Authority Birmingham District (HABD), said Smithfield Court was built in 1935 and is the oldest public housing community in Alabama.

“We’re going to preserve all the architectural features and we’re going to go back to a terracotta roof on here,” Lundy said of Bethel House, which serves as a community center for the entire area. “We’re going to put terracotta roofs back here to bring back the original design of the property.

“This is our oldest property and has historical significance because this is the center of the community,” he said. “To do an updated mural for this building I think is really going to be appreciated.”

John Grant, executive director of Celebration Bowl with ESPN, said the project is a reflection of presenting art in community. “Art has transformative effects,” he said. “We unfortunately in our school system are working hard to take art out of community.

“But art is what preserves culture and it interprets culture,” Grant said. “This project, in this community – street-facing – is going to have a transformative impact on the kids . . . and the people in this community.

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi fraternities and Sigma Gamma Rho sorority applied the primer on the front of the building. Devonte Holt, an artist from the Ensley, Green Acres and Central Park areas, used their bricks and doors that they painted white to create a mural to replace one that had adorned the building for many years.

The new mural, which Holt completed around Magic City Classic weekend, expresses the same things as the last mural – community, education and arts.

“We’re just making this mural bigger and brighter, and basically making it bolder,” the artist said. “When people see it, they’re ecstatic about it. They’re happy to see it and they’re motivated by the colors and everything that’s in the mural.”

Christopher Brooks, Alabama state representative for Omega Psi Phi fraternity, said this is one of many projects black fraternities and sororities partner.

“Every community that we go in as an organization, we’re here to make it better,” he said. “We go into the communities and just do the work.”

Cynthia Eubanks, executive director of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, said it feels good to work with other Greek letter organizations.

“As a collaborative effort as black Greek letter organizations, we always believe in servicing our community,” she said. “We’re glad to have the opportunity to participate.”

Taj Warren, a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and president of the schools’s Iota Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, said their efforts shed light on a positive side of Birmingham.

“This is all that we want to do,” he said. “Greek unity is the main goal for all black Greek organizations.”



November 1, 2018 (Atlanta, GA) – The Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) announced its 10th Class today – the Class of 2019. Seven inductees were selected from a list of 25 Finalists who had been determined earlier by the BCFHOF Selection Committee.

The Class of 2019 includes Emerson Boozer (Maryland Eastern Shore), Hugh Douglas (Central State), Rich “Tombstone” Jackson (Southern), Frank Lewis (Grambling State), Timmy Newsome (Winston-Salem State), John Taylor (Delaware State) as player inductees, and Coach Arnett “Ace” Mumford (Jarvis Christian College, Bishop College, Texas College and Southern University).

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we congratulate the Class of 2019,” said BCFHOF Co-Founder and 2011 Inductee Doug Williams. “To be inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in its first 10 years is quite an honor. Just take a look at those historical names.”

Votes were tallied from the 12-member Selection Committee, comprised of prominent journalists, commentators and historians, as well as former NFL General Managers and executives, and from previous BCFHOF inductees to determine the Inductees.

The Class of 2019 will be honored at the 10th Annual Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Presented by the Atlanta Falcons on February 16, 2019. The Induction Ceremony takes place at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Inductees will also be recognized at the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta on December 15th. For more information please visit www.BlackCollegeFootballHOF.org.




Running Back … University of Maryland Eastern Shore (1962-1965) … Two-time First Team All-American … SWAC Hall of Fame … Selected by the New York Jets in 6th round of the 1966 AFL Draft … Also selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 7th round of the 1966 NFL Draft … Jets (1966-1975) … 10 seasons … Two-time AFL All-Star … All-AFL (1967) … Led league in rushing touchdowns (1967) … Won an AFL Championship (1968) and Super Bowl III … Member of the New York Jets Ring of Honor and the College Football Hall of Fame … Born July 4, 1943 in Augusta, Georgia.



Defensive End … Central State University (1992-1994) … A two-time NAIA Division I All-American … Made 42 sacks in 32 games in a three-year collegiate career … Led his team to an NAIA national championship in 1993 … Selected by the New York Jets with the 16th overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft … NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1995) … Jets (1995-1997) … Philadelphia Eagles (1998-2002; 2004) … Jacksonville Jaguars (2003) … Three-time Pro Bowl Selection … Two-time First Team All-Pro … Born on August 23, 1971 in Mansfield, Ohio.



Defensive End … Southern University (1962-1965) … Was a standout on both sides of the football and on the track team, where he won the NAIA Shot-Put competition in 1962 … Still holds the Louisiana collegiate record for Shot-Put (58’ 1”) … Undrafted free agent … Oakland Raiders (1966) … Denver Broncos (1967-1972) … Cleveland Browns (1972) … Seven seasons … Three-time Pro Bowl Selection … Three-time First Team All-Pro … Finished career as the Broncos all-time leader in sacks … Inaugural member of the Broncos Ring of Fame … Born July 22, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana.



Wide Receiver … Grambling State University (1967-1970) … Helped Grambling to the 1968 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) title … In 1969, led Grambling in rushing and receiving yards … Scored 42 total touchdowns in college … Three-time All-SWAC at receiver … Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1st Round of the 1971 NFL Draft (8th overall pick) … Steelers (1971-1977) … Buffalo Bills (1978-1983) … 13 seasons … Pro Bowl selection (1981) … Two-time Super Bowl Champion … Born July 4, 1947 in Houma, Louisiana.



Running Back … Winston-Salem State University (1976-1979) … Led the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) in rushing and scoring three seasons … Three-time CIAA Offensive Player of the Year … Two-time Division II All-American … Under head coach Bill Hayes, Newsome led the Rams to undefeated seasons in 1978 and 1979 … Selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 6th Round of the 1980 NFL Draft … Cowboys (1980-1988) … CIAA Hall of Fame … Winston-Salem State University Athletic Hall of Fame … Born May 17, 1958 in Ahoskie, North Carolina.



Wide Receiver … Delaware State University (1983-1985) … Scored 42 touchdowns at Delaware State, including 15 his senior season, both Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) records … Holds MEAC record for most career points (254) … MEAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1985 … Selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 3rd Round of the 1986 NFL Draft … 49ers (1987-1995) … Two-time Pro Bowl Selection … Three-time Super Bowl Champion … NFL 1980s All-Decade Team … Delaware Sports Hall of Fame … Born March 31, 1962 in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey.



Jarvis Christian College (1924-1926), Bishop College (1927-1929), Texas College (1931-1935), Southern University (1936-1961) … Led the Southern Jaguars football team to five black national championships … All-time winningest football coach at Southern … Won or shared 11 SWAC Championships at Southern … Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001 … Also coached Southern to the 1941 black national championship in basketball … Retired with a record of 195-104-2 … Born November 26, 1898 in Buckhannon, West Virginia … Died April 28, 1962.




About the Black College Football Hall of Fame
The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October 2009 to honor the greatest football players and coaches from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Its trustees are football legends Mel Blount, James Harris, Willie Lanier, Art Shell and Doug Williams. The Black College Football Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Shack Harris & Doug Williams Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.