During the midterm elections next week, voters in Alabama can choose to ratify a new state constitution that completely strips away its racist rhetoric from the past, according to the Associated Press.
When Alabama’s constitution was ratified in 1901, it was made with Jim Crow-like restrictions in mind. That meant poll taxes and bans on interracial marriage. Altogether, this document has been amended 978 times. Voters in 2020 authorized state officials and lawmakers to cut the racist language entirely out. All that’s left is to ratify the 373,274-word document into law.
The original document had language that allowed parents to opt into letting their children go to “schools provided for their own race” and made a labor system that Black Alabamians had to work in mines and labor camps once they were arrested. These were clear legislative directives to hinder Black citizens as much as possible.
“The new constitution eliminates the ignorant negro vote, and places the control of our government where God Almighty intended it should be -– with the Anglo-Saxon race,” John Knox, president of the constitutional convention, said in a speech urging voters to ratify the document.
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Various court proceedings have struck down these provisions, but the wording remains in the original constitution. Alabama representatives feel this gesture will show that the state is in a different place than what its previous history has shown. Ultimately, it’s up to the voters to choose ‘Yes’ on the question asking whether to ratify the “Constitution of Alabama of 2022. ”
“This is an effort to show not only the rest of the country, but the world who we are today,” said state Rep. Merika Coleman, one of the lawmakers who led the bipartisan effort.