Pastor John L. Alford, Sr., honored with a historical marker at the church
The end Reverend John L. AlfordSr., who has participated in sit-ins, protests and the march from Selma to Montgomery, was honored with a historical marker that was unveiled Sunday afternoon.
The marker sits just outside Mount Gillard Missionary Baptist Church, where Alford pastored from 1974 to 2004. He died Nov. 19, 2018.
Local historian Richard Bailey told the assembled crowd that historically anyone who believed they were being discriminated against or felt their right to vote was not being respected could head to Alford.
“If you don’t remember anything I said, just remember I said John L. Alford Sr., accepted the bugle call to heal the wounded,” Bailey said.
Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham told a story about when he drove Alford and attorney Julian L. McPhillips, Jr., chairman of Sunday’s event, to a commemoration of Selma’s march in Montgomery. Alford never asked to be driven, Cunningham said, he asked for an “escort”.
Cunningham also joked about when Alford was arrested at City Hall during a “lying down” protest outside the mayor’s office. He wanted a civilian police review board.
“And I was one of those there that I said to him, ‘Listen now, I can’t pick you up,'” Cunningham said. “I’m just going to lean back a bit and be like this, but you have to come with me.” I can’t carry you.
Alford was a member of the NAACP. He has held local and state leadership positions with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and served on the group’s national board of directors.
Her children, Rev. Tonja Alford Thomas, Shannon Alford Parker and John Alford III unveiled the marker. Alford Thomas broke down in tears after the cover was removed.
“I wish he could be here to see it,” she said. “But, we thank God that someone remembers for years now that there was a man walking by who believed in everyone’s rights. Yeah, so it’s just that there are no words. We’re so excited.”
Jemma Stephenson is a children’s and education reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser. She can be reached at [email protected] or 334-261-1569.