Birmingham mayor, councilors clash over name for new museum

Birmingham Mayor William Bell. (

A heated conversation over the naming of a new museum to honor African-American baseball pioneers dominated Tuesday's Birmingham City Council meeting.

Bell and the city's finance committee submitted a request to the Council to move more than $251,000 to aid the project's construction. But it wasn't the money that got some councilors riled up. Councilors Lashunda Scales, Steven Hoyt and Roderick Royal raised concerns after Mayor William Bell told the Council the project was working under an "operating title."

"It's like we are putting the cart before the horse," Scales said.

Scales and others say Bell's administration should honor former Mayor Larry Langford's promise to keep the word "Negro" in the title. Bell insisted the operative title, "Negro and Southern League Baseball Museum," was simply the project's name before he became mayor. Bell says since then his administration hasn't solidified a name because it doesn't want to conflict with a similar museum in Kansas called the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

In a back-and-forth argument, Hoyt said for Birmingham to be a "majority black city" and have a "black mayor" it should have "Negro" somewhere in the title.

The Council eventually voted to pass the operative title as the "Negro Southern League Baseball Museum."

Stay with ABC 33/40 for more on where the project and its name stands.