Alabama begins to remove racist language from its constitution


Last summer, she recalled, just as many residents were participating in ceremonies honoring the life of civil rights leader John Lewis, one of her colleagues from State House attended. at a birthday celebration for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the first great wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

“This story made national headlines,” she said. “All the negative images that come from here are in the news.”

Ms. Coleman wants Alabama’s reputation as intolerant and racist to change. “Collectively, we are not those people celebrating the anniversary of the KKK,” she said. “This is not who we are.”

She is also concerned about the impact of the effect of the current Constitution on schoolchildren.

“If your image, based on what we’re talking about specifically of the Constitution, is that you are not worthy enough to vote, you are not worthy enough to marry who you love, you are not worthy enough to have the best education possible, what does that say about who you are? she asked. “And what about the superiority complex it creates in non-people of color?” “

The project, if successful, will also allow the state to streamline the entire document – the longest state constitution in the country – by making it easier to navigate and understand and removing other types of provisions. obsolete.

Representative Coleman, who sponsored the constitutional amendment that set in motion the overhaul and now chairs the committee reviewing the charter changes, also sees the removal of racist language as an entry point to conversations about current policies that disproportionately affect black residents. It points to a passage on “involuntary servitude”, which is illegal except in the case of people convicted of crimes. The practice, she said, has disproportionately affected black Americans, who for decades have been sentenced to work on prison farms and perform other forms of prison labor.

“We have real conversations where people maybe not had these conversations before, conversations that we should have had a long time ago,” Ms. Coleman said.


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