Duard Le Grand
Le Grand grew up in Eufaula, Barbour County and graduated from Eufaula High School while earning money delivering papers and contributing a column to the Eufaula Daily Citizen. He was awarded a scholarship to Birmingham-Southern College and graduated at the age of 19 in 1934. He went on to complete a master's degree at the University of Alabama supplementing his meager cub reporter's income by selling textbooks.
In 1939 Le Grand was offered a reporting job at The Birmingham Post. During World War I he served in the U.S. Army Air Force as an electronics intelligence officer. He completed his service with the rank of Major and returned to the Post, which became the Post-Herald in 1950. He rose from reporter to copy editor, telegraph editor, and news editor. He took on the role of city editor in 1949, was appointed managing editor in 1963, and became editor of the newspaper on January 1, 1967.
Le Grand was known for his calm demeanor and uncompromising ideals, which often conflicted with the conservative politics of the South. His insistence on social justice and fair dealing made him stand out as a "bleeding heart liberal" during the Civil Rights era in Birmingham. He wrote at length on the unjust prosecution of nine Black teenagers accused of rape in Scottsboro, Jackson County in 1931. His colleague Karl Seitz, who joined the paper on the same day Le Grand was named editor, praised his mentor for being the kind of columnist who would, "speak clearly and directly to the issues affecting the communities they serve," and concluded that, "if he has any prejudices, they are to favor the powerless over the powerful." Le Grand retired from the newspaper on December 31, 1977, and was succeeded as editor by Angus McEachran. Le Grand died from cancer a few months later.
Le Grand served on the board of the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson County Association for Mental Health, the Jefferson County Anti-Tuberculosis Association, the Birmingham Area Council of Boy Scouts, and the Birmingham Urban League. He was a founding director and one-time president of Junior Achievement of Jefferson County. He was also founder of the Alabama Committee for the Humanities and Public Policy, which was established with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1968 Governor Albert Brewer appointed Le Grand to the first nominating committee for the Alabama Academy of Honor. He was also a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Le Grand helped to establish the "Birmingham, 1963-1978: Civil Rights and Social Change" conference to document the political upheaval of the city, and was preparing, at the time of this death, to edit the companion book. The UAB Center for Urban Affairs and the Post-Herald subsequently partnered to launch an annual "Duard Le Grand Conference on Birmingham". The first such event, held shortly after his death, was accompanied by the publication of a collection of his writings compiled by Ruby LaMonte on behalf of the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library.
Le Grand was inducted into the Alabama Press Association's "Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor" in 1984. In 2007 the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce honored him with a Rufus N. Rhodes Leadership in Media Award. Le Grand's impact was memorialized in an unpublished poem by Andrew Glaze, "Sometimes One Man Can Make A Difference."
|Editor of the Birmingham Post-Herald
- Cook, George (December 14, 1977) "In Eufaula Or At White House, Le Grand First A Newspaperman." Birmingham Post-Herald, reprinted in "Duard Le Grand Retires as Editor of Birmingham Post Herald" (January 24, 1978) Congressional Record — Senate, p. 636
- "Duard Le Grand" obituary (May 16, 1978) The New York Times, p. B-2
- LaMonte, Ruth Bradbury, ed. (1978) A Singular Presence: Duard Le Grand, Newspaperman. Birmingham: Friends of the Birmingham Public Library
- Glaze, Andrew (2020) "Sometimes One Man Can Make A Difference". AndrewGlazePoetry.com