Samuel Ullman was born in Germany in 1840. At the age of eleven, he and his family moved to the United States and settled in Mississippi. In 1884, Ullman moved to the young city of Birmingham, Alabama, and was immediately placed on the city's first board of education.
During his eighteen years of service, he advocated educational benefits for black children similar to those provided for whites. In addition to his numerous community activities, Ullman also served as president and then lay rabbi of the city's reform congregation at Temple Emanu-El.
In his retirement, he wrote a poetic essay entitled “Youth.” It was General Douglas MacArthur who facilitated Ullman's popularity as a poet - he hung a framed copy of a version of Ullman's poem "Youth" on the wall of his office in Tokyo and often quoted from the poem in his speeches. Through MacArthur's influence, the people of Japan discovered "Youth" and became curious about the poem's author.
Mr. Awakura spearheaded a JASA-led fund raising effort in Japan and the United States, resulting in corporate and personal contributions which were used to purchase and restore the property. The property was presented to The UAB Educational Foundation by JASA in 1993, and the Ullman Museum, displaying materials, artifacts, and furniture donated by members of the Ullman family, officially opened on March 21, 1994.
Additional generous gifts to JASA by the Alabama Power Foundation and Mr. Wyatt Rushton Haskell, a prominent Birmingham attorney and Ullman devotee, were invested to ensure the ongoing maintenance and improvements of the museum.
The Samuel Ullman Museum is located at 2150 15th Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama.
Read more about the Samuel Ullman Museum here.
A documentary on Samuel Ullman’s history is available online for free here.
The Japan-America Society of Alabama initiated the Samuel Ullman Award in 1992 to recognize those who have made significant contributions toward the advancement of the relationship between Japan and Alabama.
Past Award Recipients
1992 - Mr. Akio Morita, Sony Corporation
1993 - His Excellency Kazuo Chiba, Ambassador of Japan to Great Britain
1994 – Mr. Osamu Uno, Chairman of Kansai Economic Federation
1995 – General (Ret.) Mikio Kimata, Japan Self-Defense Forces
1995 - Mr. Charles Todd, Intermarko
1996 – Mr. Kenji Awakura, JVC America
1996 - Mr. Marrion Rambeau, Honorary Consul General
1997 – Mr. Kazunori Tago, Dainichi Kensetsu, Builder of Japanese Tea House
1997 - Mr. Joe Blackburn, Sirote & Permutt
1998 – Dr. Ichiro Miyagawa, University of Alabama
1998 - Mr. Elmer Harris, Alabama Power Company
1999 – Dr. Yumi Akimoto, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation
2000 – Mr. David Naito, Daikin America
2000 - Mr. Fred Denton, Denton & Associates
2002 – Mr. Hisashi Yamada, Urasenke Chanoyu Society
2002 - Ms. Margaret Armbrester, University of Alabama at Birmingham
2003 – Dr. Malcolm Portera, University of Alabama System
2003 - Mr. Kozo Ogi, State of Alabama Japan Office
2004 – Honda Manufacturing of Alabama (accepted by Mr. Masaaki Kato)
2004 – Mr. Larry Doss, Coilplus
2005 – Ms. Taeko Horwitz, Japan Saturday Schools in Alabama
2005 – Mr. Mike Gillespie, Madison County Commission
2006 – Japan External Trade Organization (accepted by Mr. Hirokazu Yamaoka)
2006 – Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission (accepted by Ms. Lisa Keyes)
2007 – Dr. Ryoji Chubachi, Sony Corporation
2007 – Ms. Hilda Lockhart, Alabama Development Office
2008 – Honorable Shoji Ogawa, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta
2008 – Dr. Marilyn Emplaincourt, University of Alabama
2009 – Mr. Satoshi Kakuda, State of Alabama Japan Office
2009 – Mr. Brian Hilson, Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County
2010 – Dr. Nobuaki Tamagawa, formerly of Sony Corporation (accepted by Mr. Kengo Saito)
2010 – Mr. Douglas Moore, DMC Partnership Award (accepted by Ms. Susan Moore)
2011 – Daikin America (accepted by Mr. Forrest Keith)
2011 – Mr. David Echols, Alabama Development Office (accepted by Ms. Cynthia Echols)
2012 – Mr. Fred Spicer, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
2012 – Mr. Kozo Matsuda, ARCUS Services
2013 – Mr. Charles Wood, Charles Wood Japanese Garden
2014 – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama (accepted by Mr. Jim Bolte)
2015 – Mr. Lamar Smith, JASA Past President
2015 – Mr. Kazuo Moriya, Hayashi Telempu North America
2016 – Mr. Wyatt Haskell
2017 – Mr. Mark Jackson, Honorary Consul General of Japan
2018 – Mr. Scotty Colson, The Jimmie Hale Mission
2019 – Mayor William Bell, City of Birmingham, Alabama
2019 – Mayor Ryu Yamamoto, City of Maebashi, Japan
2022 – Mr. Ed Castile, AIDT