One isn’t enough
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 25, 2013 | 3052 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, comments on senate bill 108, which will consolidate and reorganize the state’s public safety and law enforcement functions. Photo: Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser
Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, comments on senate bill 108, which will consolidate and reorganize the state’s public safety and law enforcement functions. Photo: Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser
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Alabama’s 1901 Constitution was written by well-to-do, powerful white men whose goal was to concentrate power at the state Capitol and keep it away from those they did not value — blacks and poor whites.

It’s embarrassing that this evil document, though amended more than 800 times, remains the state’s legal record.

How doubly embarrassing it would be if the state Constitution was rewritten by a commission that has only one black representative among its 16 members. That’s a part of Alabama history this state simply cannot repeat.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is right: The Constitution board desperately needs diversification, for reasons both practical and perceptional. Last week, Marsh introduced a resolution to expand the commission by two members expressly for diversity.

The state Senate has already passed the measure. We urge the House to do so, as well.

We also have to wonder how we got to this point. The racist history of the Alabama Constitution is well known; it’s snuck up on no one. Yet, the people with the most control over who sits on the commission — Gov. Robert Bentley, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, and Marsh — did not adequately diversify its membership when it was created. (Marsh did appoint the committee’s lone black member.)

As Star Reporter Tim Lockette pointed out in a story in Sunday’s Star, the 16-person board’s first seven members were white males because Bentley, Marsh, Hubbard and four House and Senate committee chairs received the first slots, as guidelines stipulated.

To fill the remaining nine positions with only one black representative makes it seem as if those doing the selecting — the state’s elected leadership — are deaf to the realities of Alabama demographics.

More than one-fourth of Alabama’s residents are black. The commission charged with rewriting the state Constitution should have reflected that from the outset.
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