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Two Alabama legends to receive national human and civil rights award

WASHINGTON - June 22, 2009 -

Dr. Paul R. Hubbert and Dr. Joe L. Reed, longtime leaders of the Alabama Education Association, will each receive the H. Councill Trenholm Memorial Award at the National Education Association’s annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner in San Diego, Calif., on July 2, 2009.

The Trenholm awards are given annually to recipients, one White and the other African-American, who have expanded educational opportunities for minority students and educators, and improved intergroup relations in public schools.

Trenholm was an Alabama native known well by both Hubbert and Reed. It was Trenholm, as executive secretary of the American Teachers Association, who represented teachers in segregated schools, and who helped negotiate a merger with the National Education Association in 1966. The national merger of ATA and NEA lead to a merger of all previously segregated state associations in the South.

It was the merger of the Alabama Education Association and the Alabama State Teachers Association that led to the Hubbert and Reed partnership that has become legendary in Alabama. While most NEA state affiliates lost members when the African-American and White Associations merged, AEA actually increased it membership.

The Hubbert and Reed partnership also has increased the Alabama Education Association’s membership from 21,000 in 1969 to over 104,000 today. Their success has been based in large part on their commitment to use the political process and legal system to protect Alabama school employees and advance the cause of public education in the state.

Reed spearheaded AEA’s legal efforts to ensure every voter in the state, regardless of race or residency, had the right to vote and that political districts weren’t rigged against African-American representation in the state Legislature.

Hubbert has led the fight to protect Alabama’s school funding program against all comers, including some of the state’s most powerful politicians, most notably Gov. George Wallace.

Reed’s political network within the African-American community transformed the state’s Democratic Party, providing an opportunity for minority politicians to make up some 25 percent of the state Legislature.

Hubbert, as chair of the Alabama Teachers Retirement System, has helped shape one of the most secure and well-funded retirement systems in the nation, including a statewide health care program that is overseen, not by the Legislature and politicians, but by the retirement system board comprised of a majority of active and retired school employees.

Working together they have won legislative victories to create statewide kindergarten, reduced pupil-teacher ratios, and provide equitable state funding for all the state’s public schools.

AEA was also one of the first states in the nation, and the first in the South, to provide membership opportunities to education support professionals.

“Thanks to Paul Hubbert and Joe Reed, every student in Alabama has access to a great public education and every educator has a voice in creating that education,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Their bravery, in standing together and standing up for public school employees and the students they teach, speaks volumes about two men whose legacy will be that of fairness, equity and access for all. They epitomize the spirit of the H. Councill Trenholm Award.”
H. Councill Trenholm (1900–1963) served for 21 years as executive secretary of the predominantly Black American Teachers Association. One of the country’s most outstanding Black educators and President of Alabama State University, Trenholm helped build ATA’s membership and strength and worked for the eventual merger of ATA and NEA.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT:  Stacey Grissom  (202) 822-7823,