Former Selma fire chief writes memoirs

Published 9:34 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016

Henry E. Allen, 71, was a civil rights activist and the first African-American fire chief in Selma.

His new book “Marching Through The Flame,” reflects on his life and contributions to Selma.

Allen said he came up with an idea after an old friend told him his life was full of history and he made too big of an impact in Selma for people not to know his story.

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“It would be two or three in the morning when my thoughts would come and when I had the vision, I wrote them down. It went on for a long time,” Allen said. It was six or seven years before the book was complete.

He said his main reason for writing the book was because of history that was continuously left out of stories written on Selma.

“We’ve had people to come to Selma and write about the history here when they don’t know anything about it,” Allen said.

The book mentions his childhood as one of the first students at R.B. Hudson Middle School in 1963.

Allen said he was joined by many of his classmates, who were some of the youngest activists of the civil rights movement in Selma.

He said he hopes the book introduces a lot of kids to history they may have never heard about.

“I want the kids and their parents to understand about their heritage. We have three generations who don’t know about our history. Nobody told them about it, it’s not in the school or anywhere,” Allen said.

He wants kids to realize no matter their circumstances they can be successful.

The book costs $17 and is available on and in Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million. It was released five weeks ago. Allen, is now a motivational speaker and has been the president of the PTO at Sophia P. Kingston for 30 years.

“I inspire kids to know that it doesn’t matter how they grew up or where they came from. I’m one of the poorest kids that you could find anywhere. I have achieved a lot and never been a quitter,” Allen said.

Look for more details about an April 15 book signing in future issues.