Minister James Alexander Bryan, known as "Brother Bryan," and businessman-humanitarian Samuel Ullman of Birmingham have been elected to the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame at Samford University. The two were inducted during the annual Men's Hall of Fame luncheon Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Founded by the Alabama Legislature in 1987, the hall recognizes men "whose lives have impacted the state, nation and world." Honorees must have been deceased at least two years. The Birmingham Women's Committee of 100 sponsors the program. HOF board members represent Alabama's seven Congressional districts.
Bryan (1863-1941), born in South Carolina, came to Birmingham in the late 1880s while studying theology at Princeton University. He served as part-time pastor of a small congregation which later became Third Presbyterian Church. Following his graduation in 1889, he became the church's full-time pastor.
Bryan served only one church throughout his career, but he was known as pastor to all of Birmingham, conducting meetings among firemen, policemen, railroaders and students. He also led church evangelistic meetings across the South.
The pastor was perhaps best known for his helping of the poor and homeless. His legacy continues as The Brother Bryan Rescue Mission, established in 1940. He was also a champion of civil rights. He is memorialized in a kneeling statue on the circle at Five Points South and by the nearby Brother Bryan Park.
Ullman (1840-1924), born in Hechingen, Germany, emigrated to the U.S. in 1851 and came to Birmingham in 1884, establishing a retail hardware business. He was named to various city boards and elected a city alderman. Ullman held a seat on the Birmingham Board of Education from 1884 until 1900, serving as president from 1893 until 1900.
His influence and interest in African-American education resulted in the creation of Industrial High School in 1900. It served as the model for other such schools in the South. He and his wife also helped create Hillman Hospital, a charity institution.
A leader in Birmingham religious life, Ullman promoted the building of Temple Emanu-El, and served as president of the congregation. He was elected the temple's rabbi in 1890, serving until 1894.
Ullman also was a poet, and one of his works, "Youth," became widely known in Japan after World War II. Gen. Douglas MacArthur had a framed copy on his wall in Manila, Philippines, before the war, and took it to Japan during his service there after the war. Ullman's Birmingham home is now preserved as a museum through the efforts of Kenji Awakura, a Japanese businessman who worked in Alabama.