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Roy Moore Fought to Keep Alabama School Segregation Language

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

 

Infamous far-right Senate candidate Roy Moore has a history of his conservative Christian beliefs getting in the way of his political success. He was once the chief justice of the Alabama’s Supreme Court and was twice suspended for refusing to obey the law when it ran against his beliefs.

Moore lost gubernatorial elections in 2006 and 2010, and as the front-runner to become Alabama’s next U.S. senator, his views are coming under scrutiny once again. Talking Points Memo recalled Friday that Moore opposed removing segregation language from the state’s Constitution in 2004, erroneously claiming that the proposed amendment was part of a tax-grabbing scheme.

Talking Points Memo continues:

Democrats and Republicans led by then-Gov. Bob Riley (R) worked together on an amendment to remove language in the state constitution mandating “separate schools for white and colored children” and allowing poll taxes, Jim Crow-era requirements that people to pay to vote that disenfranchised most black people.

The changes were purely symbolic — all of the state constitutional language had already been struck down by state and federal courts — but civil rights and business leaders saw it as a way to heal old wounds and make the state more attractive to big business.

The opposite happened instead, and Moore’s fierce opposition likely made the difference.

Susan Kennedy of the Alabama Education Association, the state public teachers’ lobby that supported the amendment, said, “He had a huge impact. It was a measure that was set to pass without much opposition and then because he got involved it changed the dynamic completely.”

Section 256 of the Alabama Constitution states that “white and colored children” must not attend the same public schools:

Since Moore helped defeat efforts to correct the state Constitution in 2004, subsequent tries have been also defeated—meaning the language remains in the document. Talking Points Memo continues:

The battle over removing segregationist language is part of a much larger effort that has pitted reformers, civil rights groups and many in the business community against Old South traditionalists and some other conservatives in the state for much of the last two decades.

The amendment was a part of Riley’s push to modernize the state constitution, a sprawling, racist document dating to 1901 that codified Jim Crow and created a strong state central government.

“Federal and state court rulings have struck down a lot of these [clauses] as unconstitutional, but it was viewed by many as a black eye for the state,” Toby Roth, who served as Riley’s chief of staff during the constitutional fights, told TPM.

Moore’s racist politics are wide-ranging and well-documented: He was a leader of the birther conspiracy against President Obama, once questioned if Muslims should be allowed to serve in Congress, and said America’s shift toward the secular is to blame for “shootings and killings.”

Moore sparked more controversy in September when he spoke of division among “reds and yellows,” comparing the current political climate to that during the Civil War. “We were torn apart in the Civil War—brother against brother, North against South, party against party. What changed?” Moore said. He continued: “Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

 

Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

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