Alabama Votes To Remove Racist Language From Its Constitution
Redundant sections of the constitution stated that Black and White children must attend schools separated by race, that there was a statewide ban on interracial marriage, and that only men had the right to vote in Alabama.
Segregation hasn’t been legal in Alabama since the 1950s, and many of the sections have now been repealed, but racist and controversial terms and phrases remain in the official document to this day.
On Election Day, November 3, residents in the state were able to vote on whether to reorganise the 119-year-old constitution to remove outdated and racist language.
The issue has previously been raised in 2004 and in 2012, but voters rejected the amendment on those occasions. The issue also came up in the Legislature, but again failed to pass.
This year the amendment was approved with nearly 67% of the vote, meaning state legislators can now draft a ‘rearranged version’ of the document, removing racist language, language that is repeated or redundant, and combining language related to economic development and which relates to the same county.
Rep. Merika Coleman celebrated the result on Tuesday night, WBRC reports, saying:
This is a great day in the state of Alabama where we show the rest of the country that we’re not the Alabama of 1901, that we are a more inclusive Alabama that’s documents reflect who we are today.
The change will take some time to implement as the state Legislature will not meet for a constitutional convention to revise the document until 2022.
Voters will then need to approve the new version of the constitution for it to become law.
That’s the beautiful thing about Amendment 4, once the Legislature does its work, we still have to be accountable to the public.
So they’ll get a chance in the next governor’s race in 2022 to determine if we’ve done exactly what we said we were going to do.
Alabama resident Glenn Crowell, a 63-year-old registered Republican who is Black, said he voted to ‘get rid of that language’ because it ‘just doesn’t make any sense nowadays’.
More than 1.7 million votes were cast in the state, meaning more than 585,000 people voted against the removal of the language. The ballot reportedly didn’t mention race, and it’s possible some voters might not have even known exactly what the amendment involved.
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