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My Journey: A Memoir of the First African American to Preside Over the Alabama Board of Education

By: Dr. Ethel Hall
Reviewed by: Linda A. McQueen
NewSouth Books, 2010

Dr. Ethel Hall, a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, educator, and statewide political leader, is the epitome of a true role model for all generations. She has graced the literary world with her autobiography, My Journey, co-written with Carmelita J. Bivens. Hall’s journeys from childhood to a long career in education led her to become the first African American to preside over the Alabama Board of Education.

My Journey is divided into seven parts: Childhood, Adulthood, Higher Education, Learning Abroad, My Career, On the School Board, and Epilogue. In Chapter 13, My Husband, Alfred, Hall writes, “We married in 1951 and had fifty-four and a half wonderful years together before his sudden death on September 21, 2006. Some of my friends say he was the kind of husband that every girl should have at least once. I agree. He believed that each of us should possess self-discipline, an education commensurate with ability, and a guiding faith.”

Chapter 17 follows Hall’s journey to attend three graduate schools and obtain three degrees. Between 1953 and 1979, she earned a master of arts from the University of Chicago, a doctorate from the University of Alabama, and a master’s degree in social work from Atlanta University.

As Hall continued to obtain academic certification and began integrating the Birmingham workforce, she provides the reader with a detailed account of the problems she faced during her more than two decades of service to the Alabama State Board of Education. She also includes a selection of photographs illustrating her memoirs.

This book is filled with memorable narratives of faith and hope. It is an inspiration to readers facing adversities and finding joy and success in achieving their goals. Dec. 2010

Linda A. McQueen is the Library Media Specialist at McNeel School, Department of Youth Services-Vacca Campus.

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