Segregation may have ended decades ago in Alabama, but the state’s constitution still mandates it. Voters on November 6 will get their second chance in years to eliminate the practice that still exists on paper more than 50 years later.
Amendment 4 proposes to delete the constitution’s language that made segregation okay, reports MSN News. It has not gone well noticed nationally, however, because it is tucked in between routine issues like sewers, bonds, and city boundaries on a very crowded ballot.
The state has voted once before on the issue, but voters in 2004 narrowly chose to keep the racially conservative language. The vote brought national criticism on the state. The second time doesn’t appear to be any easier either, because Alabama’s two largest black political groups are urging voters to say no.
They explain that residents should vote “no” because the changes would wipe out some of the language, but would still regain other segregation-era language that says there is no constitutional right to a public education in the state.
The two groups have been joined by the state’s main teachers’ group in refusing the new amendment. Despite their opposition, there are still several supporters who say it’s past time to get rid of the archaic language that continues to remind people of the era of discrimination, reports The Washington Post.
The people of Alabama aren’t opposed to amend the 11-year-old constitution in the past. They have actually approved over 800 amendments in their state constitution’s history, making their’s the nation’s longest. But making changes to the segregationist language in the constitution has been extremely difficult.
While the US Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967, the state’s ban on interracial marriage wasn’t lifted until 2000. Even then, 40 percent of residents voted to keep the ban.
While most opponents agree that it is good to get rid of segregationist language in Alabama’s state constitution, opponents worry that the amendment will affect public education in the state, because it affirms that students in the state have no constitutional right to public education.