The Monroeville City Council and Monroe County Commission adopted a joint resolution on Tuesday honoring its international business legacy and designating an annual International Day to celebrate the contributions of international companies and residents. They also formed a Joint Council on International Hospitality to coordinate communitywide adoption of the Universal Human Rights Pledge and to recommend policies to assure that the community continues its historic legacy of being open and welcoming to new ideas, new people, and new opportunities.

 “Monroeville has a unique international business legacy that began over 70 years ago when Vanity Fair International established corporate offices here in 1937. These international corporate investments have made our community an envy of rural America.” – 

Judge Greg Norris added, “Monroe County citizens quickly learned to embrace their new international neighbors as a source of a higher standard of living, of a better quality of life, and of lasting, personal friendships.”

Parsons and Whittemore, Inc. established their American manufacturing center in Monroe County in 1978. Their corporate expansions in the 1990’s, according to the Alabama Development Office, gave Monroe County the largest industrial investments in Alabama for that decade. Norris said, “Global corporate giant Georgia Pacific and its subsidiary GP Cellulose now operate Alabama River Cellulose as Monroe County’s largest employer, continuing the international legacy.”

The joint resolution adopted today stands in stark contrast to the national media coverage of Alabama’s Anti-Immigration Law. But local officials insist that this joint resolution is not a response to that law and that Monroeville has been an open, tolerant city for decades. In fact, Monroeville native Harper Lee wrote the seminal literary work of the civil rights movement, To Kill a Mockingbird, helping white America to understand racial oppression through the eyes of a child. She and childhood friend, Truman Capote, created the literary legacy that made Monroeville the “Literary Capital of Alabama.”

Mayor Kennedy reported, “International employees from around the world have made Monroeville and Monroe County their new home, enriching our community by bringing a diversity of experiences while sharing the common goal to improve the lives of their families and their neighbors.”

 Each member of the City Council and County Commission today also signed the Universal Human Rights Pledge, a pledge affirming the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. The new Joint Council on International Hospitality will encourage adoption of the Universal Human Rights Pledge by organizations and individuals throughout the community.

The pledge was written based upon two earlier documents after a visit to Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute. The two documents are (1) The Birmingham Pledge and (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and championed by Eleanor Roosevelt.

NAFTA opened the door for American textile manufacturing to exit to South America and elsewhere. The economic downturn and the collapse of the housing market hit Monroeville and other communities in the wood basket hard, through no fault of their own.