Editorial: Oral history of Phenix City project aims to tell story of overcoming

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Phenix City became an All-America City in 1955, but it took some work to get it that way. Before that time, it was notorious for organized crime, gambling and prostitution. “Sin City” was an accurate description. Albert Patterson ran for Alabama Attorney General on the platform of cleaning Phenix City up, but he was killed outside of his office in 1954. How did it happen that in just one short year the city went from its infamous reputation to being named an All-America City?

It’s nothing short of a community coming together for a common purpose to make the area they lived the greatest place it could be. It’s a story of determination and grit. It’s about leaders banding together. Today, the old Phenix City days are just stories. To some, they are distant memories, but to the newer generation, it’s a point of intrigue and mystery.




The Russell County Bicentennial Committee wants to share the stories of those who lived through those days. The point isn’t to bring up bad memories, but to shine light on how the city got its reputation and then worked to overcome it – how the city came to be an All-American City and where we are today. It’s the phoenix rising from the ashes.

As a member of the Russell County Bicentennial Committee and on the oral history of Phenix City project, I’m asking you to tell me your story. If you have something you’d like to share, an anecdote from the past, a family member who helped during the clean up process, let me know. We would love to have your voice. Send an email to news@citizenea.com and share just a little about your story. I’ll give you a call and we’ll talk more. It’s Alabama’s Bicentennial. Let’s preserve its history while we continue to move forward.

By Denise DuBois, Executive Editor