This podcast is part of the series: BCRI Oral History
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
David Vann was born in Roanoke, the largest town in Randolph County, Alabama. He served in World War II, received a law degree, and, later, clerked for Alabama native and U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black. Vann served as Justice Black's clerk when the court handed down its landmark 1954 decision in the case of Brown v Board of Education. Shortly after that decision, Vann arrived in Birmingham to practice law with a downtown firm known for its relatively progressive views and representation of labor. One of Vann's chief accomplishments was successfully campaigning for a public referendum in 1962 that changed Birmingham's form of municipal government from the city commission system to a mayoral/council system. Later, from 1975 to 1979, Vann himself served as Mayor of the City of Birmingham. Vann passed away in 1999. Listen to former Mayor Vann discuss critical events that he believed led to the gradual willingness of Birmingham's White leadership to negotiate with local Black leaders and bring about an end to segregation in Birmingham.