The dedication of the Albert Patterson statue and bench was held on June 26. The statue is located on 5th Avenue beside the Phenix City parking garage.
“Sixty-six years ago this month, Albert Patterson was murdered by criminal elements that controlled this community,” Dr. David White said. “Others had been killed before him…injured, harassed, and threatened. But the death of Albert Patterson on that sidewalk…on a hot summer evening in 1954 changed everything. It reverberated throughout the community, throughout the state, and even throughout the Nation…the statue of Albert Patterson…invites you to take a seat to think about those difficult times, times when most thought things would never change, could never change. The odds against change were too great. It had been going on for too long. But all things can change. What people think and what people do can change things.”
Albert Patterson’s grandson Al Patterson spoke on the behalf of the family, describing the events of his grandfather’s death when he was just four years old and his sister was just one year old. They were home at Pine Circle, about a mile from where their grandfather was gunned down. He said after his graduation from West Point and Ranger School at Fort Benning he was able to spend time with his grandmother, Agnes Louise Benson, who he said should have a place on the bench beside his grandfather “because she was a great woman who stood next to a man.”
“Today, it is a great event that Phenix City stands as a shining example of what people can do when good triumphs over evil. That’s the example that you have for your community, for your state, for your nation…good over evil. Albert Patterson was a keystone in the bridge that took the encouragement of the Russell Betterment Association to join them in their fight against the vice and corruption and the evil history Phenix City had up to that point. Following his assassination, the citizens…were able to throw off the shackles of the evil that had existed on the past.”
Patterson thanked the citizens of both city and county for commemorating the role of his grandfather played in ridding the city of that evil. The dedication ended with Albert Patterson’s great-great-grandson Colin pulling off the black cloth to reveal the bronze statue of his smiling grandfather sitting on the bench, wearing a hat, holding an apple in his left hand, and a cane in his right.
Dr. White talked about three projects from the committee, a book on the history of Russell County by Jim Centric to be published soon, an oral history project still ongoing under the direction of Denise DuBois, and the statue of Albert Patterson by artist John Lumpkin, “a visual connection to our history—a sculpture of a figure seated on a bench, inviting citizens and visitors, young and old, to sit for a moment and think about that time in our history in our community when everything changed–when the death of a man sparked a series of events and the people took back their city and county from the grip of organized crime.”
The event was created and organized by the Russell County-Phenix City Alabama Bicentennial Committee, whose members are Dr. Jacqueline Screws (co-chair), Dr. David White (co-chair), Commissioner Chance Corbett, Dr. Cordelia Moffett, Denise DuBois, Dennis Beson, Jennifer Davidson, Jennifer Lowman, James Centric, Naomi Elliott, Tommy Boswell, and Victor Feliciano. Members of the Patterson family present were “Al” Love Patterson III, grandson of Albert Patterson; Barbara Scholl, grand-daughter of Albert; Rudy Scholl, husband of Barbara; J.R. Scholl, son of Barbara and great-grandson of Albert; Colin Scholl, son of J.R. and great-great grandson of Albert; Ben Patterson, son of Al and great-grandson of Albert; Wendy Patterson, wife of Ben; Leslie Whited, daughter of Wendy and step-daughter of Ben; Tim Patterson, son of Al and great-grandson of Albert.
Other speakers were Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe, Dr. Jacqueline Screws, Commissioners Chance Corbett, Peggy Martin, Ronnie Reed. Director of the Alabama Tourism Department Lee Sentell also spoke.
Watch at www.youtube.com/Beam7.