Tribute to Chief Justice Aldolpho A. Birch, Jr.

“My service has proven to me that a well lived life depends not upon what one obtains, but what one gives” — Justice A. A. Birch, Jr.

Presiding Judge Rachel Bell, A. A. Birch Jr. Statue Tribute Committee Chairperson stands next to statue honoring Chief Justice Birch. (Photo by Deborah A. Culp)

Presiding Judge Rachel Bell, A. A. Birch Jr. Statue Tribute Committee Chairperson stands next to statue honoring Chief Justice Birch. (Photo by Deborah A. Culp)

Another historic day for the city of Nashville and the mid state as a whole occurred on August 27 as the beautifully crafted, sculptured commemorative statue of Chief Justice Aldopho A. Birch, Jr. was unveiled. The day also celebrated 10 years of honor, respect and judicial history. Justice Birch was the first African American jurist to serve as Chief Justice for the state of Tennessee.

At first it looked like the rain was not going to allow the well organized, outside ceremony to take place. But just in the nick of time, Ann Holt (WKRN-News TV 2), mistress of ceremonies, stepped up to the podium and began the welcoming statements.

Such an endeavor didn’t happen overnight. The unveiling committee, led by Chairperson Judge Rachel Bell, was like a group of proud parents. Sculptor Brian Hanlon’s image and likeness is amazing and almost lifelike.

As the program continued under a beautiful sunny day graced with blue skies, many notables on the program made remarks, added humor, and honored a man who was in a class of his own. Birch contributed to many legal careers, including some of the best minds that God granted to lead Nashville and the state of Tennessee. Many proverbially sat at his knee to glean, learn and process the knowledge and information handed down.

After Ann Holt’s welcoming remarks, Nashville’s first woman mayor, Mayor Megan Barry, spoke and humbly shared the impact that Justice Birch made on her life and career. Statue committee Chairperson Judge Rachel Bell eloquently spoke the opening remarks. Judge Casey Moreland, Judge Thomas Woodhall, and Judge Richard Dinkins also shared judicial recognition.

The actual Birch Justice Center building re-dedication came from Nashville’s Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite and Nashville NAACP President Ludye ‘On Duty’ Wallace (both are former city council members).

The special unveiling was done by the sculptor, Brian Hanlon. Statue reaction and remarks from the Birch family and closing comments from Ann Holt constituted a well-rounded ceremony and program. Shortly afterwards ticketed guests enjoyed music, food and an atmosphere of pleasant accomplishment for a well-deserved day.

The Chief Justice A. A. Birch Jr. Statue committee was spearheaded by Judge Bell; however, several others put in long tireless hours as well, including: Committee Chairpersons Judge Casey Moreland, Judge Phillip Smith, Judge Monte D. Watkins, and Bryan Lewis, attorney. Committee co-Chairs included: Judge Melissa Blackburn, Judge Lynda Jones, and Howard Gentry, Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk. Committee members included: Dwayne L. Bell, Sr.; Alfred Degrafinreid II; Gina Fox; Frederick Douglas Kilpatrick; Richard Rooker, Circuit Court Clerk; James Weaver, attorney; and Nancy Vincent, attorney. Nothing of this magnitude is done without committee partners and this endeavor was no different. duGard Communications, the Nashville Bar Foundation, Realistic Design Group, and Thomas Lindsey Group made up the core committee partners.

Several more minds and hands helped to make the day possible, including: sponsors, supporters, volunteers and advisors—giving new meaning to the catchphrase ‘It takes a village.’

Now the commemorative statue of this great giant is proudly on display in front of the ‘Justice A. A. Birch Courthouse.’ The ceremony may be over but the bronze likeness molded into a commemorative statue can be seen anytime and the names of those who made it possible are etched onto the statue’s base.