Black History in the Making: Charles Steele, Jr.
In the last two decades or so, he was known as Senator Charles Steele and then the National President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But Charles Steele, Jr.'s name was made great in Tuscaloosa long before either of these titles when in 1985, he became one of the first blacks elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council (along with John England, Jr.).
According to the SCLC, Steele's dedication to serving his constituents is evident through his many worthwhile and tangible accomplishments including the following: organizing the Unity Day Scholarship Fund, The Tuscaloosa Police Athletic League, and securing funds to build the Bernice Washington Insight drug treatment center in addition to organizing the Tuscaloosa Drug Task Force and the Partners for a Drug free Tuscaloosa County (formerly Tuscaloosa Drug Task Force). During that time the partnership was awarded one million dollars.
In 1994, Charles Steele, Jr. was elected to the Alabama State Senate. The Senator played key roles in recruiting several new plants in his district. He also sponsored a non-traditional educational program with Robert Townsend of Hollywood, California for the youth of his district. Additionally, he recruited the Rosa Parks movie to Alabama, where he served as a consultant to the production of the $7 million CBS movie project.
Those in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama might recognize him as co-owner of Vanhoose and Steele Funeral Home, husband to Cathelean Annette Steele, and father of LaKeisha and Charla. But for future generations, amongst all of these great accomplishments, it should be remembered that Charles Steele, Jr. was also the first black person elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council.