In my opinion, the de-annexation of Ward 4 must face the following four issues:

1. Whites have always had a goal to isolate, separate and divide themselves from blacks due to race. Throughout the history of this state, they have chosen to run from issues involving the races, rather than uniting with blacks to solve them. The Ward 4 group, under the leadership of Attorney Charles Turner, chose not to reach out to the residents of Anniston and their leaders to seek a solution for problems with property values in Ward 4. They ran from the problem rather than try to solve it. Racism is a choice, not a right!

2. The de-annexation was done in secrecy. In order to get an upper-hand on the issue, a small group of whites from Ward 4 tried to get de-annexation before the Alabama Legislature, through (Sen.) Del Marsh, without proper and sufficient notice to the City of Anniston. This is what I call a “sneak attack” on the residents of Anniston, so there would be no time to properly respond to the issue of de-annexation of 9,000 people from Anniston’s population, and steal a sizable portion of its territory. In my opinion, this is the illegal taking of property without due process. 

3. The issue of “De-Annexation of Ward 4” has racial themes and undertones throughout all facets — even though Mr. Turner claims the main reason he started the proposal was about the “decline of property values” in the area. The fact remains that Ward 4 is a majority white area. They tried to sneak out Anniston’s back door, and move conveniently and quietly into Oxford’s front door. This effort showed disrespect, contempt and a lack of love for the City of Anniston. Those who supported this effort sought a cowardly and disgraceful way of abdicating their responsibility as members of their community. They should have taken the “high road” by trying to reach out through their representative, Millie Harris, and city officials, by offering solutions to the problems of better schools, property values and other issues concerning them and the city, rather than by ambush and surprise attacks. If I were a leader in Oxford, I would be cautious of annexing this group — one that abdicated responsibility, was persuaded by racial divide, and wrapped in secrecy, rather than unifying to solve issues. Trash is trash, regardless of where it is deposited — your front door or back!

4. I totally agree with the recent editorial on this subject by the Editorial Board of the Anniston Star, but would add: The children of  this state, as a whole, see Alabama as a plague. They see no future here for their children and grandchildren, primarily because of the racial divide in this state. They are raised and educated in Alabama, but they choose to live in the five major cities of the state — Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, Montgomery or Tuscaloosa — or other states. I ask, “What good are property values if no one new is coming to reside in our state?” We must adjust with the times, seek unity among residents without “race” being the dividing factor, and be honest, transparent and open about issues that affect all of us. Oxford, are you listening?

Amos L. Kirkpatrick