Alabama leaders seek to kick racist language from constitution
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Some lawmakers have tried for years to rewrite the entire state constitution, which they criticize as outdated and cumbersome.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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