Dr. Sonnie Hereford, III remembered


People in the Tennessee Valley are celebrating the life of Dr. Sonnie Hereford, III.

Hereford was a civil rights leader from Huntsville.

He was laid to rest today.

Hereford’s son became the first black student in Huntsville to enroll in an all-white public school.

A doctor, a teacher and a civil rights activist. Dr. Sonnie Hereford, III leaves behind a legacy of dedication to his family and his community.

Sonnie Hereford, IV spoke of his father and his “…inmeasurable effect on this community.”

People from all walks of life paid their respects to a man whose courage affected change locally and statewide.

Dr. Jack Ellis said,”I first met him in 1996. I was working on a history of black physicians in the state of Alabama.”

Hereford’s life was filled with accomplishments. He broke down racial barriers through education and as a physician.

Thomas Ross added, “They intergrated the city schools in Huntsville in defiance of George Wallace’s continued segregation order.”

Today’s somber mood mingled with a call for action.

Dr. Jack Ellis remembered him. “I think Dr. Hereford provides us a model. His life showed the power of local people. This is a very important message to all people, but especially to young people that they still have the power to change the world.”

Hereford’s son continued the message. “The more people you help, then those people can go and help other people and inspire other people and be role models to other people.”

The celebration of Dr. Hereford’s life falls at a time when many are calling on people to stand on the shoulders of civil rights pioneers to continue fighting. Sonnie Hereford the IV says he plans to do just that in honor of his father.

Hereford built on change and those pushing his legacy forward say society has to “Walk On.”

Later this month, a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for the dedication of the Sonnie Hereford Elementary School. It was named for him by Huntsville City Schools.

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