Blacks were required to sit in the back of the bus; there were separate restrooms and water fountains for colored and white; and the schools were segregated.
As a child I had a sense that something wasn’t quite right because one day while riding on a public bus with my mom I asked if it was okay to offer my seat to a black woman. Her response still rings in my ear. “David, you can’t do that–someone might hurt us.”
Many years have passed and there are still folks who still think of Birmingham as black and white.
But that’s really not true today.
There are all kinds of people in Birmingham: whites, blacks, Asians, Indians, and Latinos come to mind.
And minority and foreign populations are growing rapidly. Just walk into any metro Birmingham store and look around.
I know there are whites that would like for Alabama to remain mostly white. But that’s not going to happen. Holding your finger in a dike will only work for so long.
Some whites don’t want to share government with blacks. They point to those “crooked black politicians.”
Let’s examine that one for a moment. Four Jefferson County Commissioners were convicted or admitted to fraud:
Larry Langford (black)
Chris McNair (black)
Gary White (white)
Mary Buckelew (white)
Score tied: Whites 2; Blacks 2
Then there are those blacks who won’t allow us to forget the past. They want us to concentrate on how the white man held them down. Okay, so some whites are racist and so are some blacks…How does that move us forward?
Birmingham’s becoming a little less black and a little less white everyday. Maybe we are morphing into some color of grey.
Fifty Shades of Grey was a successful book. Maybe it will work for Birmingham.
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David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).