Alabama leaders seek to kick racist language from constitution

Birmingham, Ala Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:18pm EDT

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Birmingham, Ala (Reuters) - The Alabama Senate approved a measure on Wednesday that would eliminate references to "Jim Crow" or segregationist laws as well as all mentions of race from the state constitution.

The legislation passed in a 22-9 vote, with all Republicans voting in favor after an all-night session, said Republican Senator Jabo Waggoner.

The proposed amendment would eliminate language that calls for separate schools for black and white students and poll taxes, the latter generally viewed as instituted to keep black residents from voting.

"Even though federal laws nullify these old wordings, it remains a black eye on the state," said Cam Ward, another Republican senator.

Some lawmakers have tried for years to rewrite the entire state constitution, which they criticize as outdated and cumbersome.

Written in 1901, the document has 827 amendments and 340,000 words, making it 40 times longer than the U.S. Constitution.

The proposed amendment will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. If signed by the governor, it must go to voters for approval.

A similar bill passed by the Legislature in 2004 was defeated in a statewide vote.

(Reporting by Verna Gates; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)

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Comments (6)
Kozz wrote:
My feelings are that this language of the Alabama Constitution may be a very ugly legacy indeed, but an historical legacy nonetheless. To rewrite it is to rewrite history, akin to a “memory hole” of Orwell’s storytelling.

Apr 28, 2011 2:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Darmay wrote:
Kozz,
The Alabama Constitution is not a piece of memorabilia. The language should be changed to reflect fairness and equality for all. If left as is because of nostaglia, who’s to say that years from now, some group may decided that it is within their state constitutional rights to uphold segregation or other practices rooted in bigotry. It needs to be updated. Make a copy of the old one and put it in a scrapbook, not the law books.

Apr 28, 2011 6:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheDeuceman wrote:
I’d say that lantanalenox needs to take a leisurely trek through the Southland of the 21st century. And if he maintains his silly and outdated opinion of the South he needs to get a good sense of humor about himself as the people of the “Heart of Dixie” won’t tolerate too much of his racially charged BS…even if it IS made in jest.

I see no danger in the rise of a small group of rednecks to attempt to exercise or take back their States Rights as promulgated by the Alabama Constitution but the state REALLY does need to address a document that is 340,000 words long. Basically just change the document to read the as the lyrics of the song Dixie. That way it expresses a longing for the past, a declaration for the present, and it gives all comers a chance to “take their stand” to create their own legacy. What more can a broadly stated document offer to a people?

Darrow…for the Prosecution

Apr 29, 2011 1:23am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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