Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alabama has made some progress, but much more to go on race relations

The Montgomery Advertiser reported on UAB professor, author, lawyer, and historian, Dr. Samuel Webb, delivered the address at the monthly ArchiTreats program sponsored by the Alabama Department of Archives and History. In the speech he discussed how Alabama has made significant progress on race relations particularly with more black politicos getting elected to office. The focus was placed on the election of James Field, Jr., a black State House Representative elected by a 97% white district in Cullman County. However, he couldn't confirm or deny if Congressman Artur Davis would be able to win the 2010 gubernatorial race although he is leading everyone else in the Democratic nomination. I agree the majority-white counties like Shelby, Cullman, or Clay would be a huge problem for Davis because most white Alabamians are ambivalent to an extent on race until they get to the voting booth.

He focused on the Black Belt, which is a sloth of land stretching from the Mississippi River Delta to Eastern North Carolina with large amounts of black topsoil. The area is also home to the nation's largest impoverish black population, so race relations is main topic there.
"If you go down to the Black Belt like I do sometimes to see my friends and relatives and start a conversation with somebody, it'll take five minutes for the conversation to be about race," he said. "They are absolutely obsessed with race."
Now that's not a surprise since it is a heavily black and economically stratified region where you either have the money or you're poor. In this situation, it's like they are still in the Reconstruction period where people still live in tenant farm houses and they don't own land either.

Dr. Webb also discussed how "money and power" seems to be the root of Alabama politics, but isn't that politics in general? Anyways, he said that those are the same people that are blocking the rewriting of the archaic Alabama State Constitution, which was written in 1901. He made it clear with this statement:

"Not in my lifetime. I have these friends who are working day and night trying to change it, and I tell them they're just wasting their time... too many people with too much money don't want it changed. They stand to gain by keeping it like it is and will spend whatever it takes to keep it that way."

Also by saying this

...Racial separation was "an old trick" in Southern politics because "if you could separate them, you could control the labor system."If you could control cheap labor, you could continue to control state government."

That's not a surprise, they want to keep this place poor, dumb, and separated. However, Alabama isn't exactly stuck in the past like most of Mississippi, but it isn't anywhere near being very socially progressive as say North Carolina. However, the reality of things is that blacks and whites are still in their own fiefdoms/environments here because of the mindset amongst so many whites is to not allow their families be around much diversity because of the "negative influences". Also we have been recently called by a Gallup Poll as the "most conservative state in the nation", and that's scary when Oklahoma had no county that had a majority voting for Obama in the last presidential election.

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