This is not acceptable, Alabama

Alabama monument I-20 rest station near Georgia
Alabama monument I-20 rest station near Georgia. “Alabama we dare defend our rights”

It’s very difficult to publish a piece these days and not appear to be political.

And this piece is not meant to be political—but it is concerning.

It is true of both Alabama Democrats and Alabama Republicans.

And it’s something that many of us may not have noticed.

In talking with a State legislator he pointed out the current racial makeup of Alabama elected officials.

He said there are 35 Senators in the Alabama SenateAll 27 Republicans Senators are white; 6 of the 7 Democrats are black. (One vacant seat)

He said there are 105 Legislators in the Alabama HouseAll 76 Republicans are white; 26 of the 27 Democrats are black. (Two vacant seats)

Alabama is a white majority state as are most others, but in Alabama all major political offices are held by white Republicans.

Some Alabama politicians, like Mo Brooks, who recently announced he’s running for the U.S. Senate, stirs up his base by emphasizing this racial divide. According to al.com, Senatorial Candidate Mo Brooks on the day he kicked off his campaign for Alabama’s special Senate election in 2017, said “The Democrats, for decades now, have tried to divide Americans based on skin pigmentation.”  Birmingham Watch  reports that Brooks in his tweets and speeches “accused (Democrats) of stoking a “war on whites.”

The Alabama Political Reporter says exit polls show in the 2020 presidential election 71% of Alabama white men and 77% of white women voted for the Republican presidential candidate; 84% of black men and 94% of black women voted for the Democratic candidate.

Politically Alabama is not red or blue—we are white and black.

I would like to believe that most modern Alabama citizens don’t see politics as white or black, but the optics don’t look good.

And Alabama, as well as many other Southern states, has a dismal history in racial politics.

  • Slavery
  • Jim Crow laws and segregation
  • Lynching
  • Racial intermarriage

Slavery

Slavery ended when the North defeated the South in the Civil War in 1865. If it had been up to Alabama political leaders, slavery would have continued.

Jim Crow Laws and segregation

Alabama passed numerous Jim Crow laws between 1865 and 1957 laws like “white woman nurses can’t help black men” and “no children are allowed to go to a place that is racially mixed.” Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If it had been up to Alabama politicians, Jim Crow laws and segregation would have continued.

Lynching

Between 1877 and 1943 more than 300 blacks were lynched in Alabama. Lynching was rarely prosecuted and Alabama never passed any anti-lynching laws.

Racial intermarriage

The Supreme Court overturned the ban on interracial marriage in 1967 making Alabama’s law banning racial intermarriage moot. But it took until 2000 for Alabama to legislatively overturn its ban—the last state in the country to do so.

Alabama not like Georgia

Some people feel Alabama will one day be like Georgia and become a purple state. This is not likely to happen any time soon.

Georgians voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate and elected two Democrats to the Senate.

Georgia is 52% white and Alabama is 65.3% white.

Georgia is becoming much more urban while Alabama remains mostly rural. Fifty-seven percent of Georgians live in metropolitan Atlanta while only 22% of Alabamians  live in metropolitan Birmingham.

It shouldn’t be acceptable of state-wide elected officials that Republicans are all white and all but two Democrats are black.

By being aware that Alabama is so racially divided, maybe both Democrats and Republicans can find a way to be more inclusive.

David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com.

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18 thoughts on “This is not acceptable, Alabama”

  1. One thing I’ve learned from modern journalists is that a few statistics presented with the preferred emphasis can make any point of view appear feasible. Your comments sound as if Alabamians as a whole still prefer to be racially divided and that whites still oppress blacks in some manner.
    My husband and I moved into the City of Birmingham 22 years ago. We’ve watched as the city has revitalized. Our neighborhood has changed from 75% white/25% black and minority to 74% black/20% white/6% other minorities. On my block, we’ve lost several elderly neighbors since we’ve lived here. We started with 10 white families and 1 black family in our immediate block, including us. We now have 4 white families, 4 hispanic families, 1 interracial family, and 2 black families. Some of these houses have sold more than once in these 22 years.
    Birmingham also has a robust Asian community that my sister-in-law was a part of many years ago before she moved away. I’ve also worked with dozens of people here from India and middle-eastern countries. Plus, we met, and unofficially “adopted” a young woman from Nepal several years ago and still stay in contact with her little family today.
    So, from my perspective, Alabama isn’t just black and white. And no one is oppressing anyone else. We’re all just people trying to do the best we can. The sooner we stop listening to the narratives that divide us and continue to give each other a helping hand, the better off we will all be.

    1. Deborah, thank you for your thoughtful note. Sounds like you live in an ideal neighborhood. The point of the piece was to point out that politically Alabama has divided itself into black & white. 100% of our state Republican officials are white, and all but two of our Democratic state officials are black. It’s difficult to make a case that race is not an issue. And Alabama’s racial history (as well as many other Southern states is not pretty. There are many good people in Alabama who would prefer it not be this way. I totally agree with your conclusion that the sooner we stop listening to the narratives that divide us and continue to give each other a helping hand, the better off we will all be. BTW, would you be willing write a guest column for ComebackTown to share much of what you said in your comments? If so, e-mail me at dsher@amsher.com.

      1. You say many good people don’t prefer it this way but undoubtedly the voting majority, both black and white really do want it this way or the vote would be different. It sounds more like YOU don’t want it this way (I agree with you for the most part) and YOU are telling the majority of votes their opinion is wrong. It is likely that most all states are comprised of a majority legislature that is the same color as the majority of people in that state. It may be wrong but it is a fact and to attack Alabama is also wrong. If this is not the case, I apologize but show me other states and breakdown. Political redistricting is the only thing that changed this and that is strictly Color politics. Thanks for listening

  2. This article pegs the White population in Georgia as being at 52%. However, a CNN exit poll of the 2020 election reports a sample of voters which is 29% White men and 33% White women adding up to 62% total White population.

    Sometimes surveys of the White population includes Hispanic/Latino people who can be of any race but the Hispanic/Latino population is listed separately in this survey.

      1. I was moderate in most things all my life. Starting about ten years ago I did perceive a growing movement to deny the fact that the country had a European heritage that was dominant and nothing for which to apologize. BLM and many little known groups have come together to literally blackmail our country into submission; look at Georgia right now, just for adopting reasonable voting laws to avoid what just happened in this election. CancelCulture has gotten my attention. Togetherness comes when neither side threatens the other. I was open to all change until the change started to deny my authenticity by ancestry and that meritocracy was a way to hold people down as opposed to raise all people up. Many young blacks are choosing exclusion and control of a currently diverse population. Fortunately, their numbers are not substantial enough to accomplish the insidious goal of flipping this society. I would never have guessed I would feel as rigid against change as I do now, and it is not coming from inside me, but from without. I am fighting this by reading as little news as possible because it no longer reflects all of us. We no longer have the luxury of discussing one small part of a picture that is much bigger than what you have published today. Your suggestion implies that it is wrong that all the Republicans are white; but you should look at the progressive socialist liberals run the Democratic party now and be able to understand that crossing that aisle is harder now than at anytime in our lifetimes.

        1. Richard, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I apologize if I did not have made it clear that I thought both parties need to strive for inclusion–that was my intent.

          1. Paul, You are probably right. The piece definitely relates to politics. What I tried to do was not take sides. All of the Jim Crow Laws, lynchings, etc. happened under Democratic administrations in Alabama. It would just be nice if we weren’t so polarized racially and politically. Alabama doesn’t own that alone. And, of course, slavery ended under a Republican President.

  3. I strongly disagree with the inference that Republicans are not inclusive to Blacks. Many whites have rejected the Democrat Party’s proposed solutions to our real and imagined problems, and many blacks have rejected the solutions proposed by the Republican Party. From Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to Donald Trump, Republicans have wanted to include blacks and have been rejected by them, basically since Lyndon Johnson was president. It’s true that slavery, Jim Crow laws, lynching, segregation, bans against interracial marriages, etc. were products of politicians–Democrat politicians.

    1. You give yourself away by saying “Democrat” party…it is “Democratic Party”. Your particular phrasing is intended to be nothing more than derogatory. Your suggestion that people reject “solutions” because of some sort of race issue is simply racist on its face.

      1. I deny that I ever suggested that people reject “solutions” because of some sort of race issue. I denounce that opinion which may be held by others but not by me.

    2. Durham, The point of the article is that all state-wide offices are held by white Republican and all but two Democratic offices are black. This couldn’t possibly be good for Alabama. Neither party is perfect.

      1. I agree. Both major parties want too much control over individuals (me). That is not the freedom we give lip service to, and I choose the Libertarians who cherry pick the best parts of both.

  4. You can’t add 29% and 33% and say 62%. The 29 and 33 are off smaller bases and that math is NOT additive.

  5. When someone attacks another poster for their phrasing, as subtle as it is, we are given good evidence that our seemingly unsolvable conundrum is indeed both red and blue as well as black and white.
    Both sides have to amend this situation and the media and underlying support of progressive change like it just the way it is.

    David, let’s work with our community and try not to bring the bigger picture of our society’s seemingly terminal illness into this. Birmingham does not need to have another burden on its shoulders. It is not specific to us. Ask Portland and many other cities and states.

  6. I have to wonder why the responses to this article fall into an either/or dichotomy. It really seems to perpetuate the need for this article: even when we call out that we’re separating ourselves into disparate factions despite a desire to unite for community, we recede farther into our own camp.

    There are a lot of hard questions we have to ask ourselves in order to be truly honest about why we believe what we believe, particularly since people are bending numbers to fit their own narrative. Instead of looking at others and stating how much they’re doing wrong, I wonder how many people are looking inward and focusing on what they can understand within their own life, their own relationships.

    How much “crossing the aisle” am I trying to do? Am I trying to get those people to see that they need to join my side, or am I truly trying to have compassion about why they came to their own conclusions? If they believe something different from me, is that acceptable? Why or why not?

    What conversations about race am I having with my own family? With my minority family, friends, neighbors or coworkers? With minority people I don’t know? Why do black or minority people seem to be drawn to progressive social liberalism? Why do white people seem to be firmly rooted in the Republican or Libertarian parties? What outreach am I doing in my own community to bridge that gap? In addition to having these conversations, what evidence based research am I conducting to have compassion for people I don’t understand?

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