An 8-foot-tall bronze statue of former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr. was unveiled Saturday in a ceremony honoring the judicial pioneer’s legacy, reports The Tennessean.
The unveiling also marked the 10-year anniversary of Nashville’s downtown criminal courthouse, which bears Birch’s name. The larger-than-life statue, created by New Jersey artist Brian Hanlon and paid for by donations, sits on a base at the courthouse’s main entrance on Second Avenue.
“It’s quite fitting, too, because Justice Birch was, and is, a larger-than-life judicial trailblazer, and now we can all see and say that literally,” said Presiding General Sessions Judge Rachel Bell, who led the committee to get the statue in place. Bell said she grew up three houses down from Birch and grew to admire the man.
Birch was the first African-American prosecutor in Davidson County, and the county’s first black judge in both General Sessions and trial courts. He later became the second black justice on the state Supreme Court, and the first to serve as chief justice.
Before beginning his career on the bench, Birch had a private law practice in Nashville and taught at Meharry Medical College, Fisk University and Tennessee State A&I University, now Tennessee State University. He volunteered to represent activists who were arrested at sit-ins in Nashville during the civil rights movement.