African Village in America – Birmingham, Alabama - Atlas Obscura
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Birmingham, Alabama

African Village in America

Joe Minter is only doing the work of God in his yard, he says. 

Driven by his love for God, Joe Minter started building his own African American village in Birmingham, Alabama, decades ago. The little village in the southwest part of the city is made from bits of scrap and junk - footwear, lawn decorations, toys, old sporting equipment, baking utensils, and more. The African American theme, though, is clear; it makes itself known by Minter’s recreations of feathered headdresses and African masks.

Visitors to the site - Minter has an open-gate policy and everyone is welcome to wander his creation during the daylight hours without paying, though DVDs and other paraphernalia are available for purchase - will be greeted by hand-painted plywood signs with historical facts and Biblical passages.

“This ain’t nothing but God’s blueprint here,” Minter has said. “There ain’t no way that a man could put all this down here together without instructions from God. God said, ‘Pick up what’s thrown away and put it together.’ Whatever God gives me, that’s what I work with.” At the back of Minter’s property are five giant satellite dishes. On them, he has spelled out J-E-S-U-S in huge letters.

Most of Minter’s creations are supposed to be politically instructive. He has recently constructed a model of the World Trade Center using big chunks of corrugated steel. Over the years, Minter has earned the title of ‘African Warrior’ for his work. Another controversial piece on his property is a ‘Death Penalty’ sculpture that is made using Minter’s versions of a lethal injection table and electric chair.

Know Before You Go

Located on the southwest edge of the city. Take I-65 to exit 258 and drive west on Route 18 for one mile, then turn left onto Martin Luther King Jr Drive. From there, drive south and take the third right onto Nassau Ave. Joe Minter's place is the last house on the left.