Remembering Longtime Huntsville City Councilman Richard Showers Becomes A Step Back In Time

Most Huntsville folks are aware by now that a Huntsville City Council icon and prominent leader of the black community passed away Saturday. Dr. Richard Showers was 73.

Back in the earlier days of TOCC TV I spent more time pursuing local news stories rather than editorializing so much and that meant I would periodically go to city council meetings to keep an eye on them. I still watch them on the MSM news channels but other things demand my time and money these days. Although, being more proactive about hard news is still on the back-burner for times later on. “Back then” means around the year 2000 when people were still a little perplexed by the idea of a new millennium, Y2k computer viruses, and even how to say the new years. Would it be two thousand and one, or twenty oh one?

That’s when I got to know a little bit about Dr. Richard Showers. To be frank, that whole city council was a bunch of clowns. Dr. Showers, Glenn Watson, Bill Kling, Sandra Moon and Dick Hyatt were all up against an upstaging and strident Mayor Loretta Spencer. It didn’t matter what was on the meeting’s agenda, you were sure to get an entertaining show of some kind no matter.

Dr. Showers was just like the other council members. Although I respected him, I was always a little disappointed in him because he was definitely cast in the same vein of belligerence as John Lewis. I don’t really think Mr. Showers was particularly racist, in fact when dealing with him one on one he was personable and very kind. On the public stage, however, he did tend to play the part, apparently as a magnet for more extreme members of the black community, and I suppose to show that he was wise and aware of any shenanigans that white racists like Glenn Watson might try to pull. Mr. Showers did indeed do his job.

A Step Back In Time

When I heard of his passing I immediately thought of one particular City Council meeting I had attended and a news reel I presented thereafter. The original video was easy to find but I wanted to see if I could locate some of the original raw footage as well. Before I knew it, I was on a trip down memory lane. Every so often this happens. I find myself sitting in my chair with my laptop on my lap, the mouse in one hand and a fistful of cd’s in the other. Since the cd’s are not always comprehensively labeled, I have to pop in first one and then another of around 100 back-up discs to see exactly what is on them. I always find some things I forgot about or didn’t even realize I have and of course it evokes memories of the days gone by. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look at every disc and to my surprise I did find some original raw avi’s of that City Council meeting.

In this vintage video Dr. Richard Showers stands up for the working man while Loretta Spencer and Glenn Watson spout off their vitriolic rhetoric. Rest In Peace Dr. Showers.

This video I created from the original raw footage and I have added no editing to it. The raw footage was still only 192 x 144 but because it was in the very dense avi format it up-samples to this size fairly well.

(Raw footage of this video was provided by Comcast Cable.)

But, it was so long ago, November 9, 2000. I’m sure I attended the meeting in person, but I didn’t shoot any video and I remember thinking that I would need to get a video from somewhere because it had been a humdinger of a meeting. Unfortunately, I can’t figure where I lifted the video from. I did occasionally find video on Comcast or another local TV station, but I’m usually pretty good about giving attribution. The original video doesn’t have a watermark, and so I thought I might have done a no no trimming it off. But, the raw video doesn’t have a watermark either and so I think I found it on the city website where it would basically be a fair use proposition anyway. The bottom line is, if anyone wants to claim attribution, let me know and I’ll update the story.

REVISION: 2021.10.18 – Oops. I see now I attributed the video at the end and it was provided by Comcast Cable as a professional courtesy.

In the mean time, the video is truly a vintage presentation for more than one reason. First of all, it shows that City Council and mayor full of clowns in true form. An employee from the sanitation department is fairly exercising his right to redress and what should be an open door policy, genuinely concerned about working conditions, safety, and a living wage to support his family. Next thing you know Glenn Watson if spouting off, Loretta is blowing smoke and Sandra Moon is trying to regain control of the meeting. And Dr. Showers has rightfully come to defense of the city employee.

But, the video is vintage for another reason. Even though I didn’t personally record the video, I did have to digitize and edit it for the Internet. It’s one of those that’s presented at only 192px x 144px and with a 15ps frame rate. The real kicker is, the video I presented is in RealVideo format – whatever happened to that? And that’s about all the Internet could handle back in them days.

It’s truly astonishing to see the Internet as it’s still evolving to this day. The highest quality video is now delivered via unthinkable speeds on 5g broadband that are far better than any OTA ever was – and half of that is shot with a credit card sized communicator called a cell phone that virtually everyone on the entire planet is able to utilize. Multitudes of free live streams that are available 24-7 are casually set up, easy to run and even they are a much higher quality than a live broadcast of pro-football was in 2001. It is absolutely amazing.

This is the original news reel presented at it’s original size. However, to present it today I had to convert it to mp4 from the old RealVideo and what was about 500kb is now about 5mb.

Rest In Peace Dr. Richard Showers, but it’s a brave new and amazing world you leave behind.

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