Alabama Academy of Honor

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The Alabama Academy of Honor is a statewide honorary society made up of 100 living members, all citizens of Alabama, chosen to recognize their "accomplishment or service greatly benefitting or reflecting great credit on the State"[sic].

The idea of creating an honor for living Alabamians was suggested by UAB biochemistry professor Emmett Carmichael in 1965. He was inspired by the example of the Missouri Academy of Squires. He communicated with Governor George Wallace and succeeded in having an enabling bill passed under the sponsorship of Malcolm Bethea during that legislative session. The law authorized the Governor to appoint a nominating committee and established an annual appropriation of $2,000 to the Academy to provide for stationery, pins, plaques, and an annual banquet.

Though Wallace signed the bill on October 29, 1965, the demands of his office and presidential campaigns left the organization of the Academy unfulfilled. No progress was made during the shortened term of his wife and successor Lurleen Wallace, but after Albert Brewer succeeded her in 1968 he agreed to appoint a nominating committee.

Brewer appointed Henry Aldridge, Bill Hearn, Bob Inman, Jake Merrill, Harry Philpott, C. J. Coley, Walter Graham, Carl C. Morgan, Herbert Goldstein, Paul Robinson, Emmett Carmichael, Duard Le Grand, A. P. Reich, Mrs James Britain, Mrs Houston Glover, and Howell Heflin to the nominating committee. Carmichael was elected to chair the committee, which announced the members of its first class on October 25, 1968.

The first class, inducted on August 25, 1969, was made up of fourteen members. In subsequent years the committee could select as many as ten new members, up to the stipulated total enrollment of 100 members. The organizing committee elected to put the choice of future nominees to a vote of the members. Since all living governors are granted automatic membership, the total size of the Academy can exceed 100 temporarily.

Due to various delays, the second class was not inducted until 1972. No class was inducted in 1992 or 1994.

Hugo Black is the only nominee who has declined to be inducted, citing a vow to avoid membership in such societies during his service on the Supreme Court. Mervyn Sterne was selected as an inductee, but died before the actual induction ceremony. When a member died, they technically drop off of the Academy's roll, but their biographies are preserved on the Academy's website as memorials.



  • Randall, Catherine J. (October 22, 2015) "Alabama Academy of Honor celebrates 50th anniversary, highlights outstanding citizens." The Birmingham News

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