Wednesday, September 14, 2016—Elnora Spencer and Friends “Singing the Jazzy Blues” 

Award-winning singer, Elnora Spencer, will open the Comer Library’s SouthFirst Bank Lecture Series     accompanied by piano, bass and drums. Elnora calls her style the “jazzy blues” and her repertoire of songs—gospel, jazz and R&B—will feature favorite oldies from several eras.   Music in Elnora’s home was a family affair. She has been singing since the age of four and the roster of musical family members   includes her mother—a noted gospel singer during the ‘50s—as well as a grandfather who was musical and an aunt who performed on the “Morning Show” out of Birmingham.

In 2014, Elnora was inducted as a Master Blues Artist in the Alabama Blues Hall of Fame, and in 2016, she was inducted into the Birmingham Record Collectors’ Hall of Fame. She has been featured in the Living Legends Performing Live Series at Moonlight on the Mountain in Bluff Park and has sung with the       Alabama Symphony Orchestra. She will be accompanied by our own Buddy Simpkins on drums; Jeff Drew on bass; and Byron Thomas on piano. You will be transported to another time in musical history during this hour with Elnora Spencer!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016—Jerry Armor “A Home for Wayward Boys” 

When reformer Elizabeth Johnston walked among the convicts in an Alabama prison mining camp, she was stunned to see teenage boys working alongside hardened criminals. She vowed to remove   youngsters from such wretched conditions by establishing a home for wayward boys. With the support of women across the state, she persuaded the legislature to establish the Alabama Boys’ Industrial School in 1900. After several difficult years, Johnston and her all-female board hired a young Tennessee couple, David and Katherine Weakley, as superintendent and matron. United in their Christian faith, their love for the boys, and some basic principles on how the boys should be molded into men,     Johnston and the Weakleys labored together for decades to make the school one of the nation ’s premier institutions of its kind. A Home for Wayward Boys is the inspiring story of the school, its leaders, and the boys who lived there.

Jerry Armor served seven years as a juvenile probation officer, two years as the psychologist in one of the state’s prisons, and taught 30 years at Calhoun Community College and Athens State University. Today, he directs the Lawrence County Children’s Policy Council and teaches part-time. He earned a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. respectively from Samford University, Troy University and the University of Alabama. He has written extensively for both academic and general interest publications. He and his wife, Judy, live in Moulton, Alabama.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016—Chris Haveman “Rivers of Sand: Creek Indian Emigration, Relocation, and Ethnic Cleansing in the American South” 

At its height, the Creek Nation comprised a collection of multiethnic towns and villages stretching across large parts of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, but by the 1830s, the Creek Indians had lost much of their territories through treaties and by the unchecked intrusion of white settlers who illegally expropriated Native soil. With the Jackson administration unwilling to aid the Creeks in removing the squatters, the Creek people suffered from dispossession, starvation, and indebtedness.   Beginning in 1836, nearly twenty-three thousand Creek Indians were relocated—voluntarily or involuntarily—to Indian Territory. Dr. Haveman will discuss the removal of the Creek Indians from Alabama and the difficulties that the Creeks had in resettling in Indian Territory.

Christopher Haveman—a native of Bellingham, Washington— holds degrees from Western Washington University, Marquette University, and a Ph.D. from Auburn University with a specialty in the history of Southeastern tribes. He is assistant professor of history at the University of West Alabama, and his book on Creek Indian removal—Rivers of Sand—captures the full breadth and depth of the Creeks’ collective tragedy during the marches westward, on the Creek home front, and during the first years of resettlement. Haveman’s meticulous study uses previously unexamined documents to weave narratives of   resistance and survival during the American Indian removal.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016—Ed Bridges “Alabama: the Making of an American State” 

Dr. Edwin C. Bridges is eminently qualified to tell the story of Alabama’s rich, difficult, and remarkable history. Dr. Bridges, the former director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, guided the study and preservation of Alabama history for thirty years. During retirement, he has researched and written a magnificently       illustrated book— Alabama: The Making of an American State—a work that is itself a watershed event presenting the magisterial sweep of Alabama’s rich, difficult and remarkable history.   From Alabama’s earliest fossil records to its settlement by Native Americans and later by European settlers and African slaves, from its territorial birth pangs and statehood through the upheavals of the Civil War and the civil rights   movement, Bridges makes evident in clear, direct storytelling the unique social,     political, economic, and cultural forces that have indelibly shaped this historically rich and unique American region.

Dr. Bridges grew up in Bainbridge, Georgia. He graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the         University of Chicago. He served on staff and as Assistant Director for six years at the Georgia Department of Archives and History. He was appointed as the fifth ever   director of the ADAH in 1982 and is active in state archival and historical organizations. He and wife, Martha, have three daughters.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016—Roger Vines & Friends “Sylacauga NSAI Songwriters Showcase

The Sylacauga Songwriters—about a dozen individuals who meet once a month to   review lessons and share new songs—not only love to write songs but also enjoy       performing at restaurants, events and festivals.   The chapter started about six years ago in Weogufka, but recently moved to Sylacauga for monthly meetings under             co-coordinators, Frankie Lackey, Corene Lackey and Roger Vines.   The group enjoys the benefits of being one of 150 chapters of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) with song evaluations by professionals, one-on-one mentoring sessions, opportunities to pitch songs to publishers, and songwriter training workshops. In     addition to providing both aspiring and accomplished songwriters with support, training and recognition, the NSAI provides legislative advocacy for songwriters to assure that they are compensated for their creative works.

Roger Vines is excited about bringing several members of the Sylacauga Songwriters to the Comer Library to offer entertainment and enrichment as a part of the SouthFirst Bank’s History Your Wayseries. Vines invited Rick Haynes, Terry Robbins, Corene   Lackey, Cabot Barden, and Teresa Yager to join him in presenting their own songs—Avondale Lane; Walmart Woman; Far Country; No Coincidence; The Moment Our Hearts Touched; and more. You will hear song lyrics like those that you hear on the radio, many of which have been recorded by well-known artists and performers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016—Nancy Anderson “Harper Lee’s Legacy?” 

From the time of its publication in 1960 and the award of the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, Harper Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird, was recognized as one of the Great American Novels.   Years later, Oprah Winfrey called the perpetual bestseller “our national novel”—paying tribute to the book as a symbol of justice, wisdom, decency, bravery and empathy. In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded Lee the Presidential Medal of Freedom, praising her novel as “a gift to the entire world.”   But readers have had many questions about Harper Lee’s legacy since the publication of Go Set a Watchman in July of 2015 and her death in February of 2016. Has the view of Atticus been diminished with the publication of Go Set a Watchman? Will To Kill a Mockingbird continue to be read and studied around the world? Are there more works by Harper Lee to be       published or more unsigned works to be discovered? It may be too early for definitive answers, but we feel free to ask.  

Nancy Anderson has a B.S. degree from Millsaps College and an M.A. degree from the University of Virginia. She began teaching at AUM in 1973 and has taught Southern and American           literature, writing courses, and led summer teacher institutes on To Kill a Mockingbird.           Anderson has publications on Zelda Fitzgerald, Richard Marius, Lella Warren, and Harper Lee. Anderson has received numerous awards for her teaching and distinguished scholarship and she is scheduled to be honored soon by the Alabama Humanities Foundation with the Wayne Greenhaw Service Award.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016—Dan J. Puckett “Adolph Hitler’s Rise to Power”

In just 12 years, Adolf Hitler pushed Europe to the brink of utter destruction and brought about the Holocaust,—one of history’s most tragic events. How did a failed Austrian artist gain control of Germany—once the heart of the European Enlightenment—and launch history’s most           destructive war and most horrifying atrocity? Dr. Puckett will explore the path to power by a man who was a decorated veteran of World War I, the leader of what became the Nazi Party, and the     prisoner who wrote his manifesto, Mein Kampf, before emerging from jail in less than a year to begin his climb to the Chancellorship of Germany with a regime of hatred that led to the start of World War II and the death of millions.

Dan J. Puckett is an associate professor of history at Troy University. He received his Ph.D. at     Mississippi State University and is the author of In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the   Second World War, and the Holocaust. Puckett is a Chancellor’s Fellow at Troy University, a   member of the Alabama Holocaust Commission, and serves on the Board of Directors for the   Alabama Historical Association and the Board of Trustees for the Southern Jewish Historical     Society.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016—Dolores Hydock “Close Encounters of the Storytelling Kind” 

Dolores has been on a twelve day trip to France which included a seven day cruise on the Rhone River with stops at unbelievably gorgeous and historic cities. She sends a “bon jour” to the brown bag lecture crowd at the Comer Library! Dolores is rejuvenated by her marvelous experience and she is ready to tell her fabulous stories. She said, “The best kind of adventure is the people you meet along the way.” Come hear about some of the “close encounters” that Dolores has had along her storytelling journey, including a cooking lesson from Kathryn Tucker Windham, and a hair       appointment with Dr. Ruth. Hear these stories as only “Dolores the Great” can tell them.

Hydock, originally from Pennsylvania, is an award winning actress and story performer whose work has been featured in concerts and festivals throughout the United States. She serves as a touring artist for the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Humanities Foundation. Dolores lives in Birmingham, Alabama and in her spare time, teaches Cajun and zydeco dancing.