Hale County was established on January 30, 1867.
Hale County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. It is named in honor of Confederate Colonel Stephen F. Hale. As of 2000 the population was 17,185. Its county seat is Greensboro and it is part of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Hale County is connected to three major twentieth century artists: Walker Evans photographed the area in 1936 while he collaborated with James Agee on the 1941 book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Since the 1960s, artist William Christenberry, born in Tuscaloosa, has been photographing various structures in Hale County as part of his multi-media artistic investigations. More recently, Hale County has become the home of the nationally-recognized Auburn University Rural Studio, an architectural outreach program founded by architect and artist Samuel Mockbee and D. K. Ruth.
Hale County is the birthplace of Eugene Sawyer, the second African American mayor of Chicago. Since the American Civil War, whites controlled economic and political power in Hale County. However, in 1997 after a highly contested mayoral election the City of Greensboro elected its first African American Mayor,John E. Owens Jr. At this time Greensboro appointed its first African American Police Chief, Claude E. Hamilton. Though racial tensions in the small Alabama town remain high (in part because the African American political action organization, Campaine 2000 and the political action organization Democracy Defense League,which is composed of African American and white citizens, frequently clash over political candidates). In 2006, African American and white citizens joined together and elected Hale County’s first African American Sheriff, Kenneth W. Ellis. Prior to being elected Sheriff, Ellis served as the Police Chief of the Town of Moundville, in north Hale County. In recent years Hale County has suffered from the effects of voter fraud. In the late 1990s former Greensboro police officer, Aaron Evans, who is African American, was convicted of voter fraud in a Greensboro Municipal Election. In 2008, former Hale County Circuit Clerk Gay Nell Tinker Singleton and former Greensboro City Councilperson Valaida Paige, both whom are African American, were indicted by a Hale County grand jury for voter fraud in county and municipal elections. Though significant strides have been made in recent years in race relations, many still consider Hale County a divided land.
Greensboro, the county seat, is home to the Safe House Museum. This house was used to shelter Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Ku Klux Klan during a 1960’s meeting at St. Matthew Church, also located in Greensboro.
Greensboro is also the home to many stately antebellum mansions. Some of these homes are the finest examples of Greek revival architecture in Alabama.
As of the census of 2000, there were 17,185 people, 6,415 households, and 4,605 families residing in the county. The population density was 27 people per square mile (10/km²). There were 7,756 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 39.83% White, 58.95% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 0.58% from two or more races. 0.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 6,415 households out of which 36.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.60% were married couples living together, 22.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 26.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the county the population was spread out with 29.60% under the age of 18, 9.10% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 21.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 89.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $25,807, and the median income for a family was $31,875. Males had a median income of $28,493 versus $19,363 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,661. About 22.20% of families and 26.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.00% of those under age 18 and 26.70% of those age 65 or over.