When Birmingham's first black mayor, Richard Arrington, ran for re-election in 1983 there were crumblings that the white business community would try and find another candidate to split the black vote. Thus, giving a white candidate a chance to take the city back. Jimmie Lewis Franklin's "Back to Birmingham: Richard Arrington, Jr., and His Times," is nothing more than hagiography, but it includes this one telling quote about collective black political power and why universal suffrage is universal suffering:
A noted clergyman at one of Birmingham's largest churches could no resist comment on the alleged efforts to split the black community by having other blacks in the mayor's race. Arrington, he said, would receive 99-1/2 percent of the votes in the black community. The other one-half of 1 percent need, "a good psychiatrist." (p. 275)Arrington would win easily and rule over the city for 16 more years, and thanks to the monolithic black vote. What's sad is that the "one-half of 1 percent vote" becomes the figurehead for Conservatism Inc. to promote that "individual" black person who is the voice of sanity and immediately must be promoted to a position of power within Fox News, National Review, Weekly Standard, etc.
Meanwhile, black people consolidate all power within the municipality they control via monolithic voting; that "insane" black individual garners the adulation and respect of Conservatism Inc., appearing as guest lecture on the GOP speaking circuit.
That black clergyman back in 1983 nailed it... though the "one-half of 1 percent" black individual who didn't vote for Arrington doesn't need a psychiatrist; it's the white conservatives who believe "content of character" is morally superior to attaining power by judging by "color of skin" that needs a good psychological evaluation.
|Birmingham in 2013 is a dying city; just don't notice who is in charge... the "rope of equality" would unravel...|
It is on p.238 of There's Hope for the World that Arrington writes these words:
"Like cities worldwide, Birmingham continues to face serious challenges, and just as progress in those cities ebbs and flows, so will the same happen in Birmingham. But Birmingham has turned the corner and its future as one of America's progressive medium-sized cities is assured. In the chamber of the Birmingham City Council, on one of its walls, is the following slogan: "Cities Are What People Make Them."
The slogan reminds me of Shakespeare's words from Coriolanus, Act III: "What is the city but the people?"Recall that 75 percent black city of Birmingham recently saw its 77 percent black city council pass an ordinance banning the building of new payday or Title Loan stores. Cities truly are what people make them.
But this is what the black citizens of Birmingham continue to vote for; the city of Birmingham continues to lose population, see its tax-base dwindle, and watch businesses flee for municipalities with both a built -in customer-base and where a talent pool for potential employees are abundant.
An innovative and entreprenurial people are not found in Birmingham today, but that doesn't matter -- black people are still in charge. That's all that matters, with a quote from Robin Kelley's book "Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class" supplying the rationale:
"the black poor generally believe that a black administration was a marked improvement over the past century of white, largely racist city governments. (p. 99)Life in 75 percent black Birmingham, where the slogan in the chamber of the Birmingham City Council is correct: "Cities are What People Make Them."
Just don't notice or comment on the fact that life in 2013 Birmingham is directly correlated to the 34 years black people have dominated the city government there.
Or the Birmingham Public School system, perhaps the worst in all of America. At least the almost entirely black student body is learning the correct view of history, which fuels that 99-1/2 percent desire by the black electorate to keep blacks in power [Birmingham teacher gives R-rated 'Django' assignment to students; parents question exercise, Al.com, 1-22-13]:
A Huffman High School English teacher is being questioned for instructing her ninth graders - as part of a Black History Month exercise - to see the R-rated Quentin Tarantino movie "Django Unchained."
The assignment is part of a scavenger hunt, and one of the items requires students to see the violent slave pic "Django Unchained," a "Roots"-goes-"Pulp Fiction" shoot-em-up about slavery and revenge.
As one parent - who asked that her name not be used for fear of retaliation against her child - put it, "I hardly see what my child can get from this movie other than how horrible white people were."
Hope English, who teaches the ninth-grade English class, declined comment today. Larry Contri, director of high school instruction, said Birmingham city schools "does not endorse students attending any R-rated movie as part of a class assignment."
Contri said he is having the requirement to attend the movie as part of the scavenger hunt removed from the list. Parents will be notified of the change, he said.
In the assignment, English says it is being given "in an effort to develop your understanding of the black history that surrounds you daily."
Other items on the assignment, which requires students compile their findings in a Power Point presentation or display board, include visiting the Civil Rights Museum, the 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park.
The first item on the hunt? "Go see Django Unchained." The assignment required students bring proof that they saw the movie - a ticket stub and summary of the movie, including what "disturbing things" they learned about black history from the movie.
"I just want to know if this is in any way an appropriate assignment for students that aren't even old enough to see the movie?" said the parent. "This is not Red Tails, a movie based on factual events of the Tuskegee airmen. This is Quentin Tarantino's version of exploiting slavery's ugly history for entertainment purposes."
The assignment, which Contri said is optional, is due Feb. 15 and is worth 300 points toward students' grades. The requirement that students see "Django Unchained" was removed, he said, and a revised scavenger hunt list was sent home today."Django Unchained" is the perfect film to show the 98 percent black students who makeup the dwindling enrollment of Birmingham Public Schools, a system rivaling Detroit Public Schools for most ineffective (courtesy of the students who comprise the enrollment) in the nation, for it showcases the type of ideology that fueled the civil rights movement.
But how do you teach the 1963 Civil Rights movement in a city and a school system that has all but collapsed? [How to teach 1963: Educators across metro Birmingham take different approaches, Al.com, 1-25-13]:
Minor Elementary School teacher Allison Sanders knows the importance of teaching her fourth-graders about the civil rights movement. And she knows the challenge of teaching those students in a world where legal segregation is a thing of the past, but almost all of her students are of one race.
So she divides them, as segregation laws did a half century ago. She labels half the class as the pink group, and the other half as green. The green group gets all the best stuff. The pink group settles for less.
But throughout this experiment, the groups eat only with those of their color. They play in groups, live at school in groups, congregate in groups. And they never mingle.
"The first two days were hard - the kids were angry," Sanders said. "But they're learning vocabulary, like integration and segregation and unjust and prejudice ... And they need to understand how they can go to the places they go today. They need to know what kinds of sacrifices were made for them."
It is a creative approach to teaching a subject that is often hard to teach and, many times, neglected. Throughout metro Birmingham, the teaching of the landmark year in civil rights history of 1963 varies as widely as the communities in it that make up the area.
In Birmingham, teachers have embraced this teaching moment. In the suburbs, some students say, instruction and commemoration has been spotty at best.
"I don't think it's taught enough in our school system," said Steven Craig, a junior at Homewood High School. Craig learned the usual during black history month growing up - about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
But it wasn't until he took it upon himself -- after it came recommended to him by a cousin at Midfield High School - to enroll in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute's Youth Leadership Academy, that he even learned who the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was. That was during the summer before his sophomore year in high school.
"It's just not taught that much in over-the-mountain schools," Craig said. "I have a friend who went through the academy with me also from an over-the-mountain school system who had to correct a teacher on one of the dates she was teaching from the civil rights movement.
"We're in a city where we don't have to sit in a classroom and learn from a book," he said. "This isn't World War II we're talking about - we're not thousands of miles away from the sites. Take them to the Civil Rights Museum; take them to the 16th Street Baptist Church. Take them to Kelly Ingram Park."
The problem, says Sam Pugh, outreach coordinator for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, has little to do with urban vs. suburban school systems.
"It's a generational issue," he said. Young teachers who know little about the movement themselves, coupled with students who are far removed from it, means many students just don't learn much about it, he said.
"It's a harsh moment of history and some don't want to remember that, so they don't pass it down to the next generation," Pugh said.
Pugh visited Minor Elementary School on a recent day. He taught them about the 1963 Children's March - a nonviolent march by hundreds of Birmingham school students with the goal of ending segregation in the city.
He taught them about Shuttlesworth's role in the fight against segregation. He told them about the four little girls not much older than them who died on a sunny Sunday morning in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
And he told them how all of these events eventually led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of legislation that ultimately ended segregation.
And then he let them play tug-of-war. But even that had a lesson, as he lined each side of the rope with an uneven number of students. One side was the "establishment" - those who wanted segregation.
On the other side of the rope was "equality," those who wanted to end segregation. While a few more students were pulling for the side that wanted equality, it was clearly still a struggle on both sides of the rope.
The point of the exercise? To show students what a struggle the movement was, but that with determination, the battle could be won.A"rope of equality?"
These educational tools will improve math scores and graduation rates in the BPS system and convince start-up tech companies to invest in Birmingham's cheap downtown real estate, knowing potential employees harbor such sought-after technical skills as knowing how to "untie the rope of equality."
The battle was won; the condition of the city of Birmingham in 2013 is a fitting tribute to this glorious victory, where the city rots while the civil rights monuments are continually polished and peddled out to the general public to distract them from the conditions in a completely black-dominated city.
Remember the slogan in the chamber of the Birmingham City Council: "Cities are What People Make Them."