The Alabama state constitution was re-formed in 1901. It is the longest constitution anywhere in the United States and it “bakes in” racist language that is STILL THERE. For those who accuse others of “erasing” history, I would challenge them to understand history MORE FULLY.
This is a constitution that is still in place and there is a referendum to erase the racist language and implications on the ballot for this November.
Understand history MORE FULLY:
In his opening remarks, the president of the 1901 constitutional convention declared a major goal was “within the limits imposed by the federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this state.” The resulting document effectively removed the voting rights of African Americans and poor white people. By concentrating power in the hands of a few special interests, it allowed wealthy landowners to keep their property taxes low at the expense of school funding for low-income children.
Federal courts have overturned most of the discriminatory provisions, but the shameful evidence of this legacy persists in our constitution. This concentration of power remains an obstacle to effective local government. The constitution similarly hinders state officials from modernizing our tax system to serve Alabama’s current economic realities. And the document limits lawmakers’ ability to change policies that perpetuate the harmful and racist objectives overtly codified in 1901.
The sales tax is perhaps the most regressive tax. It takes nearly eight times the share of income for the state’s lowest earners as for its wealthiest families. Sales taxes rise and fall with the economy, like income taxes but unlike property taxes. As a result, our state education budget, which relies heavily on income and sales taxes, is at risk of sharp cuts when the economy slows.
There are places still in the state constitution that declare a white student shall not go to school with a “colored” student.
It is racism and oppression baked in to the way government works in Alabama. These are systems needing deep, radical change.