MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A University of Alabama (UA) history professor is hosting a talk in Mobile this week to shed new light on one of Alabama’s oldest political dynasties, the Bankheads.
“They are the most important forgotten political family,” said UA History Professor Kari Frederickson. “We know them by … their name attachment to places.”
Most people in Mobile could tell you where the Bankhead Tunnel is but most would be hard-pressed to remember who it’s named after – Senator John Hollis Bankhead. He was just one of many powerful Bankhead family members.
Prof. Frederickson will be the featured speaker at the History Museum of Mobile’s monthly learning lunch this Wednesday, speaking on her book “Deep South Dynasty,” which chronicles the family’s longstanding at the levers of power.
“They ruled Alabama and much of the South and crafted legislation that impacted all Americans. for 80 some years,” Frederickson said.
She also said one of the lasting impacts of the Bankhead dynasty is how they worked to modernize the American South.
The southern development captured some of the best and worst of the post-reconstruction era – from modernizing roads, to making rivers usable for industry, to reinforcing systems of disenfranchisement and white supremacy.