Arlie K. Barber was a druggist, owner of the Barber Seed Company, and a politician. He was a member of the Birmingham City Commission from 1915 to 1917 and ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Alabama in 1922 and 1934 and to represent the 9th Congressional District of Alabama in 1932.
Barber's seed company was supplied from a greenhouse on property he owned in Center Point. Barber paid to build an enclosure around a natural spring on the property, now Barber Springs in Reed-Harvey Park.
At the turn of the century, Barber was an active member of the Alabama State Pharmaceutical Association and served on a regional committee promoting the establishment of a system of medical dispensaries to improve public health.
Barber defeated A. O. Lane in the 1915 Birmingham City Commission election. Though he was opposed by the Birmingham News, he denounced Lane for his vote allowing the consolidation of the People's Home Telephone and Telegraph Company with Southern Bell, producing a monopoly. He was also aided by a promise to work to remove restrictions on the screening of motion pictures on Sundays.
Shortly after the election, Barber announced his membership in the Socialist Party, though he never involved himself in anything that could be described as "radical". He did propose in 1917 that the city should annex the property on which the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company had erected its Ensley and Fairfield Works, in order to collect taxes on the operation. Commission President George Ward argued against the measure on the grounds that it would provide a disincentive to further investment by the company.
His bid for President of the Commission in the 1917 Birmingham City Commission election was eclipsed by the rise of "True American" candidate Nathaniel Barrett of East Lake. During the campaign, Barber sought to discredit Barrett by secretly releasing private correspondence taken from the office of former commissioner and Barrett supporter James Weatherly. Barber finished third behind Barrett and Ward.
Though he served only one term, Barber represented a new wave of suburban Commissioners that, years after the Greater Birmingham annexation, began to dominate city politics.
- Harris, Carl V. (1977) Political Power in Birmingham, 1871-1921. Twentieth-Century America Series. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 087049211X
- Breedlove, Michael A. (July 1980) "Progressivism and Nativism: The Race for the Presidency of the City Commission of Birmingham, Alabama in 1917". Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society. Vol. 6, No. 4