Shown above: Rev. Ricky McKinney, Tuscaloosa Municipal Court Judge; Judge England; State Rep. Chris England; Donna Foster; and State Senator Bobby Singleton.
On the grounds of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse where he served as Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge before his retirement earlier this year, Judge John H. England, Jr. was presented the Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Sunday, June 27, 2021. The Plaque was presented by SCLC Chapter President, Rev. James Williams and England’s son State Representative Christopher John England, Sr. Of all the presenters at the ceremony, Judge England’s seemingly greatest pride fell upon his grandson Christopher John England, Jr., who read his grandfather’s biographical sketch. England’s Pastor, the Rev. Anderson T. Graves, II, of Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church in Tuscaloosa, was the keynote speaker. In lifting England’s undergraduate studies in Chemistry at Tuskegee University, Rev. Graves noted that a key feature of scientific equations is balance, and attributed that same characteristic of balance to Judge’s England life of service and contributions toward the wellbeing of others. Each presenter lauded England as a living legend and a trailblazer for his contributions to civil rights and generally for securing and protecting human rights. Representative Chris England delivered warm platitudes toward his Dad, also noting that the elder was known for embarrassing him as well as many others. Chris clarified that in that scenario of embarrassment, “…there was always a lesson and today I am very grateful for that.” The ceremony for Judge England included Donna Foster as Mistress of Ceremony; Welcome by Commissioner Reginald Murray (Tuscaloosa County District 4); Song by Reuben Harris, Jr. A reception followed at The Willie Clyde and Kay Rice Jones Education Building at Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church. Judge H. England, Jr., who proudly claims his birthplace in the Alabama Black Belt, was born in Perry County (Uniontown) and attended public schools in Birmingham, AL. He is a 1969 graduate of Tuskegee Institute (University) with a BS Degree in Chemistry. In 1999, Tuskegee bestowed him with an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree. England served two years in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman and later graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1974, and began his law practice. He and SCLC President, Charles Steele, were the first African Americans elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council in 1985. England served two terms and was Chairman of the Finance and Community Development Committee. When he was appointed to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court in 1993 by Governor Jim Folsom, England became the first African American to hold a county-wide political office. He was re-elected to a full term in that office in 1994, where he served until he was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Governor Don Siegelman in 1999, the third African American to hold such a seat. England returned to the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County in 2001 and served continuously through his current retirement. Judge England currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and in 2019 was the first African American to have a dormitory on the University’s campus named for him (John H. England, Jr. Hall). He takes a father’s pride and joy in the fact that he is the first African American UA Law School graduate to witness his three children graduate from the UA Law School: John H. England, III, U.S. is a Magistrate Judge for the Northern District in Alabama, April England Albright, is a Civil Rights Attorney in Atlanta and Chris England is an Alabama State Representative and Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.