James Corder, 1920-2008

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James Corder, 1920-2008


Civil rights activists


James Corder, a leading social, political and religious leader in Pickens County, Alabama, died in 2003. Corder, who led the first civil rights march in that county, died of natural causes in a Reform nursing home.

Corder led the county’s first civil rights march in 1968 in Carrollton, where 300 people marched despite a threat by the sheriff to turn dogs loose on the protesters. The impact of the march was felt soon afterward as a movement began that opened up jobs for blacks in Pickens County.

Corder, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma in 1965, continued to fight for civil rights through the 1970s and 1980s. Corder recruited young black lawyers, including Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge John England Jr., to help with civil rights cases involving discrimination or voting rights.

Corder received the Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamer’s Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1989 for his civil rights work. A native of the Vienna community near Aliceville, Corder helped found the Pickens County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, helped start the county’s first HeadStart center and fought for farmer’s rights on the Rural Farm Development Council. Corder owned a farm on which he grew cotton.

Corder was one of the first black county school board members, serving on the panel in the 1960s, and served on the county commission from 1987-1990. Corder served as pastor of Old Bethany Primitive Church in Aliceville for 66 years.

Corder stressed to his 11 children that they needed to get a college education, though he only received a sixth-grade education.


Tuscaloosa News Archive


Betty Slowe (Description)
Tuscaloosa Public Library






Pickens County (AL)

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