Little Korea

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This article is about the former neighborhood in Fountain Heights. For other uses, see Little Korea (disambiguation).

Little Korea was an informally-named district north of 8th Avenue North (now Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Boulevard), between 15th and 17th Streets in what is now Fountain Heights, south of Oak Hill Cemetery. The four-block neighborhood housed many African-Americans and was considered one of the poorest in Birmingham.

Writing in the Montgomery-based The Southern Courier, Don Gregg described the enclave as "a trap," where the houses were "small frame structures or piles of concrete blocks." Photographer Jim Peppler documented Little Korea, including a business called the Dream Flower & Card shop.

Reverend Johnny Burrell offered a ministry to the children of Little Korea at Congregation Church Number 2, near Legion Field. Burrell ran a one-man carpool from Little Korea to his makeshift church, sometimes making five trips each Sunday.

Belgian documentary filmmaker Kris Leysen shot some footage of Little Korea for the 1978 television program "Amerika: in alle staten."

A large portion of Little Korea was swept away for construction of I-65 and the I-20/59 downtown viaduct. The neighborhood, also called Newmongo, was one of two locations where the Alabama Black Liberation Front kept offices in 1970 and 1971.

In 2014 columnist John Archibald suggested that the name "Little Korea" originated as a reference to the Korean War, "because the gunfire too often doesn't even get reported." A similar explanation was offered to British reporter Peter Stothard by Marion Sterling in 2006.

Beulah Baptist Church and the David J. Vann Municipal Justice Center now occupy part of the former district.


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