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Carmichael Hall

Mary Ann and James Blackmon

The commitment to the Tuscaloosa community by Mary Ann and the late James Blackmon, Jr. has been long and enduring. Both educators, they brought strength and dedication to their practices that translated into students who would go on to make their own marks in the world. 

Mary Ann Blackmon has been described as a strong, talented woman and a naturally gifted instructor with a stern and no-nonsense demeanor who had a genuine love and concern for her students. 

She taught elementary education for 25 years in the Tuscaloosa City Schools. Initially, she taught in Stillman Heights Elementary School, a Title I school. She was then transferred Skyland Elementary School as the first African American teacher at the school. Her excellent teaching and leadership skills at Skyland empowered her to head many educational leadership roles over her career including the mentoring and development of young teachers. 

In addition to teaching, she was the owner/operator of Mrs. B’s Music Studio where she provided free piano lessons to hundreds of students ages 5-18 for over 50 years with two pianos and one organ in an upstairs studio above her husband’s barbershop. 

She was inducted into the Jacksonville State Teacher Hall of Fame in 1983, was named Educator of the Year by the Christian Study Center of Alabama in 1984, and was awarded the Outstanding Service in Music Ministry Award from Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church as well as from the Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church Choirs of Tuscaloosa and the Outstanding Citizenship Award in 2017 by the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. 

She served as the coordinator/instructor of the 1st Thessalonians 5:17 Prayer and Bible Group for 38 years. She was also a key organizer of the first Volunteer Association at DCH Regional Medical Center, a volunteer musician and religious instructor at nursing/healthcare facilities for over ten years, a volunteer music ministry at the VA Medical Center, and a teacher/mentor at First Baptist Church. 

The late James Blackmon, Jr. was a business teacher in the Tuscaloosa County School System and then a full-time instructor at C.A. Fredd Trade School/Technical College.

Mr. Blackmon recognized the need to provide a barbering/cosmetology school for African Americans in Tuscaloosa in the 1960s. He opened the first private barbering school in 1964. He was then hired as a full-time barbering instructor at C.A. Fredd Trade School/Technical College. During his tenure there, he and his students competed and won several barbering/cosmetology accolades. He kept check on all of his students after they graduated well beyond the mandated five years. His students looked to him as an educator, businessman, role model, and father figure. 

Mr. Blackmon was also the owner of Blackmon’s Barber Style Salon for more than 50 years. He was also a link in the community, especially for social justice activists, youths, and fledging black-owned businesses in Tuscaloosa for over 65 years. He also befriended and helped freedom fighters such as UA student James Hood, one of the first African American students to enroll at UA during the 1960s. 

Mr. Blackmon was named Educator of the Year in 1984 by the Alabama Education Association. He was also recognized as the Tuscaloosa Family of the Year and National Family of the Year in 1986 by the National Association of Colored Women’s Club, Inc. The city of Tuscaloosa named him Outstanding Role Model in 2017. During the first Juneteenth Celebration (a festival held on the 19th of June by African Americans to commemorate emancipation from slavery) in Tuscaloosa in 2017, Blackmon was one of two individuals who received an “Unsung Hero” Award. 

Mary Ann and James have been avid fans of Shelton State, Stillman College, and The University of Alabama. As a couple, they attended UA football and basketball games since 1977.