Benjamin H. Barnes



Benjamin H. Barnes




Fifty years ago, the construction of the Benjamin Barnes Branch of the YMCA began on 18th Street in Tuscaloosa.

The branch was named after Tuscaloosa educator, Benjamin H. Barnes.

Barnes was educated under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. According to his biography Barnes heard Washington thunder from the Tuskegee Institute platform the doctrine of service.

“Go back to your homes, put a hinge on the gate, a latch on the door. Don’t stand around and whine. Get into the church, in the school, into the shop and help. Own your own homes and become a tax-paying, respectable citizen.”

Barnes took Washington’s message to heart and returned to his native Tuscaloosa to begin his service. He took a job as a teacher in the city school system and immediately connected himself with the work of the church, the First African Baptist Church. He was elected Sunday School superintendent, a post he held for 25 years. He became church organist and served for 20 years in that capacity. As a deacon in the church, along with other deacons, he designed the new church building as a replica of the chapel at Tuskegee Institute. The church was built in 1907.

Throughout his life he was an avid student and spent many hours in his home library. In recognition of his religious service and of his exemplary scholarship, Selma University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts and a branch of the Tuscaloosa YMCA bears his name. (Betty Slowe, Looking Back, The Tuscaloosa News, Aug. 2, 2010)


Tuscaloosa News Archive


Betty Slowe (Description)
Tuscaloosa Public Library






Tuscaloosa (AL)

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