Eddie Fowler

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Eddie E. Fowler (born 1943) is an African American printer who contributed his press to the civil rights movement in Birmingham.

Born in 1943, Fowler was 13 when he started to learn typesetting and printing as an assistant to Fess Whatley. Soon he was working as a full time printer for the Forniss Print Shop, preparing funeral programs, receipts books, letterhead, business cards, sale papers, program booklets, tickets, church programs and meeting minutes. The Forniss family were closely associated with A. G. Gaston and local ministers active in the civil rights movement. Along with his colleagues Isiah Moore, Arlene Crenshaw, Frank Fuller, and Samuel Bruner, Fowler was entrusted with secretly printing boycott and meeting schedules, strategy papers and correspondence while other printers handled less-sensitive material.

The print shop's extra activity had to be kept concealed. Printing was done at night with the front of the shop closed and dark. Paper orders were routed through Booker T. Washington Insurance and extra colored paper used for Discount Meat Center flyers was ordered for civil rights purposes. The type was returned to the typecases at the end of each session and extra scraps were taken home and burned by the employees rather than left in the trash.

In 1975, Fowler and Ralph Hall desegregated the print department of the Birmingham News, a notoriously segregated and union-controlled operation. Fowler remained at the News for 18 years, at which point he applied for a position at the Birmingham City Hall Print Shop. He placed first out of forty-one candidates and started working in 1987 as a Senior Printer in that department.

Reference

  • Floyd, Shirley Gavin. (Spring 2006). "Spotlight: Eddie E. Fowler: Civil Rights Movement Printer." The Foot Soldier Informer.