Springtime in Monroe County comes in on a high note: Birds are hatching and so are the ideas at the Alabama Writer’s Symposium. At a time when flowers and trees are blossoming across the county, the region’s creativity is also in full bloom at Alabama Southern Community College (ASCC) as noted writers flock to the Symposium for readings, workshops and discussion sessions. The roll call is impressive, ranging from the aspiring to the acclaimed—writers like Fannie Flagg, Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, George Plimpton and popular mystery writers and innovators like Carolyn Haines, Ace Atkins and Tom Franklin.
But then the roll call of indigenous literary talent in Monroe County is rich on its own. There is, of course, Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, which has sold 30 million copies and counting, with translations into 40 languages. There’s also Lee’s best friend and childhood neighbor, Truman Capote. (Lee helped Capote research his best-known book, the groundbreaking true crime masterwork, In Cold Blood.) Other Monroeville novelists include Mark Childress, author of the best-selling novel Crazy in Alabama and screenwriter for the feature film adaptation. More recently, Childress’ One Mississippi was featured as a recommended read by O Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and Good Morning America. Nationally syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Cynthia Tucker was also born in Monroeville.
Today, admirers of Lee and Capote gravitate to Monroeville to experience the Old Courthouse Museum, featuring permanent exhibits on Lee, Capote and the Courthouse itself. A special highlight: walking through the courtroom which Hollywood designers copied down to the last cinematic detail to create the set used in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.
At ASCC, literary heritage is just one component of a vibrant academic and technical mission at one of the nation’s top-ranked community colleges, where students can graduate career-ready with certification or Associate Degrees, or transfer their ADs toward four-year degrees at University of South Alabama, only 90 minutes away.
So whether it’s springtime or anytime, it’s always a great time for achievement in Monroe County, fertile ground for opportunity and advancement.