|Birmingham, Al: the 73.4% black city is awash in black crime... why not put on burlap sacks and pray for change?|
Which brings to the city of Birmingham, Alabama. There's not much to say about the 73.4% black city of Birmingham that Mr. John Bennett didn't discuss in his provocative piece at American Thinker [Civil Rights and the Collapse of Birmingham, Ala, 2-25-13]. To the point, Mr. Bennett provided us a glimpse into the demographic breakdown of Birmingham's public employees:
From the top down, considering the racial breakdown of Birmingham city jobs, data indicate that blacks are fully empowered in the sphere of government. Whites are 22% of the city's population, and hold 27% of public jobs (1180 of a total of 4273). Blacks are 73.4% of the population and hold 71.3% of public jobs (3051).
On the surface, this is surprisingly close parity between population percentage and representation in government jobs. However, serious racial disparities remain within several city departments. For instance, the City Council has 35 black staff members, but only four whites; in the Mayor's office there are 75 black and 12 white employees; Municipal Court Department: 89 black and six white; Public Works: 827 black, 99 white; Parks and Recreation Department: 301 black, 43 white.This portrait of a black-run city would be incomplete without these demographic numbers, showing us just who is in charge of the day-to-day maintenance of Birmingham.
|The actual iconography for the 10/30 Birmingham "Stop the Black Crime" event|
But the story of Birmingham would be incomplete without bringing to light the tale of former black Mayor Larry Langford, currently rotting in jail for 15 years on 60 convictions for public corruption. Meanwhile, Birmingham has been rotting since 1963.
Prior to his convictions, Mayor Langford embarked on an ambitious public relations crusade in 2008, hoping to restore some luster to the "Magic City": he wanted to build a $100 million pentagon-shaped police headquarters in the city to combat crime, smaller in scale then the Department of Defense headquarters in Washington D.C. ; he pushed for the release of public funds to build a dome-stadium, believing a state-of-the-art sports venue would resurrect the once named "football capital of the south"; and he pushed for the 2020 Olympics to be held in his city [Mayor Pushes Skeptical Birmingham to Dream on an Olympic Scale, New York Times, 8-28-08]:
But those ideas were dwarfed by Mr. Langford’s proclamation this month: He wants the Olympics.
“Why shouldn’t Birmingham host the Olympics in 2020?” Mr. Langford, 60, asked in an interview at City Hall, smiling coyly and puffing a menthol cigarette.
With 230,000 people, Birmingham is far smaller than most of the cities that have played host to the Summer Olympics. It lacks sufficient hotel space, transportation options and athletic facilities, as the mayor concedes. And Atlanta, the last American city to host the Summer Games, in 1996, is only 145 miles away.
No matter, Mr. Langford said. “Our city has allowed the world to tell us for too long that we’re ‘less than’ and ‘too small,’ and we’ve bought into it,” he said. “We need to start thinking big.”
The response has alternated between laughter and frustration. Roads are deteriorating in the city. The murder rate is rising. And the county that Birmingham is part of, Jefferson, where Mr. Langford was the president of the County Commission until 2007, is on the brink of what could be the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.
“Birmingham has an incredible number of needs, and we never have sufficient money to fund even half of them,” said Valerie A. Abbott, a member of the City Council. “Why would we spend money on something where we have no hope of being selected? It does not take a very sharp person to see that we’re out of our league and don’t have any hope of getting into the league.”
But in a city forever toiling to escape Atlanta’s shadow and the shame of its racial history, Mr. Langford, who is black, envisions a lofty future.A "lofty future" for the almost 3/4ths black city of Birmingham?
Only in the wildest imaginations of white liberals does the black-run city of Birmingham have a chance of prospering.
|What percent of blacks are born out of wedlock? How about -- "Wake up from the dream. Restore Birmingham. Restore the West."|
But it's another decision by Mayor Langford that requires an in-depth discussion now, for it serves as one of the great moments in black history. And it involves, sack cloth and ashes.
You see, 73.4% black Birmingham was in the grip of a black crime wave. So the mayor went Old Testament on a city where Vulcan, the Pagan God of fire, lords over. [Birmingham mayor fights crime with Christian rally, Birmingham News, 4-25-2008]:
More than 1,000 people gathered at Boutwell Auditorium Friday night, wearing burlap sacks, their foreheads dabbed with ashes, to observe what was proclaimed by Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford as "a day of prayer in sackcloth and ashes."
The night featured collective prayers for forgiveness and fiery sermons calling for the city to repent in order to stop the violence plaguing the city.
"Let there be so misunderstanding: Satan is at work in this town," Langford said. "And It is time to pray."Oh, it gets better. [Birmingham mayor fights crime with Christian rally, Tuscaloosa News, 4-26-2008]:
Struggling to confront a worsening homicide rate, the mayor asked pastors and citizens Friday to don burlap sacks and ashes Friday in an Old Testament-style sign of biblical repentance.
Mayor Larry Langford said his “sackcloth and ashes” rally at Boutwell Auditorium was inspired by the Book of Jonah, where residents of the ancient city of Ninevah wore rough fabric and ashes as a sign of turning away from sin.
A pastor who helped organize the rally said Langford bought 2,000 burlap bags to be handed out at the event.
“We believe things begin to dramatically change when the mayor, or leader, calls for prayer. I don’t think there’s ever been a city called to sackcloth and ashes,” said the Rev. Steve Green.
Since he took office last year, Langford has held three prayer rallies as a way of addressing crime and violence. Bibles were handed out at one of the events.
“This city needs to humble itself,” said Langford, a professing Christian.
|Vulcan, a statue built long-ago by the white citizens of a dead Birmingham, still stands guard over a now 73.4% black city|
This wasn't the first time prayer was invoked to restore order to a city ravaged by black criminality [Birmingham Mayor Suggests Prayer, Wearing Sacks to Curb Spate of Homicides, Fox News, 4-28-08]:
Birmingham city officials have turned to prayer in the past to cope with the city's crime problems.
The former chief, Annetta Nunn, promoted the idea of turning people toward God to quell the violence in the city's neighborhoods, and she instituted a Bible-based plan of civic responsibility for cleaning up rundown neighborhoods.All the while the statue of Vulcan, the largest cast-iron statue in the world mind you, watches on -- overlooking the mess of present-day Birmingham.
Before Mayor Langford decided to hold sack-races in Birmingham, a most curious article appeared in the pages of the Birmingham News -- Mayor Langford realized that black people were responsible for the deteroriating circumstances of the city and he felt the need for blacks to be held accountable for their actions.
So he called for a rally of black men only to address this issue [Langford plan has sights set on crime Black men challenged to step up to the plate, Birmingham News, 2-4-08]:
The city of Birmingham is launching an initiative that in other major cities is credited with successfully helping bring down violent crime rates.
The solution to ending violence in Birmingham lies with black men, who must take responsibility for their communities, Mayor Larry Langford said.It's an issue Langford pledged to tackle with the same vigor as each of his other initiatives since taking office in November.
The mayor wants to fill the seats at Fair Park arena Friday with black men willing to change the plight of their communities where homicides, violence and apathy are most prevalent.''We need to become leaders in our community,'' Langford said. ''We need to say enough is enough.''
Langford late last week met with a small group of black professionals to discuss his plan and set the first mass meeting for Friday at 6 p.m.His call to mobilize black men is similar to programs in other major cities designed to curb crime and invigorate struggling communities.
Langford said he created his ''Plan 10/30: Why am I dying? Do you care?'' initiative after seeing cases of violence and homicides in the city, mostly committed by black men.The plan's title reflects the fact that crime statistics show a majority of crimes in the city are committed by black men aged 10 to 30.
Already 11 people have been killed this year in Birmingham. Most of the homicides involved black men as the victim, suspect or both.''We can't blame folks for what's going up in our community now,'' Langford said.
Several speakers will give short presentations, discussing challenges and giving examples of how each man present can help.''I'm not asking anyone other than black men,'' Langford said. ''If you're white, don't get offended, you didn't create this problem. We did.''
Organizers said they want a cross section of black men to attend Friday's meeting. Every concerned black man is encouraged to come, Langford said.''The goal is to put the 'neighbor' back in the 'hood,''' said Frank Matthews, co-director of the mayor's office of citizen's assistance and a coordinator for the meeting. ''The mayor started his 23 in 23 neighborhood cleanup, now he wants to restore safe neighborhoods beginning with African-American male accountability through project 10/30.''
Langford said his meeting is not about creating new government policies, but encouraging personal responsibility. After the first meetings, Langford said he would then invite the entire community to join.''It has to start with us and then we bring everyone else,'' Langford said. ''I need the ones who look like me right now.''
Langford's call for only black men will be seen as controversial, but his approach is practical, said David R. Forde, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama.''The sad fact is for Birmingham your significant problem is in black neighborhoods,'' Forde said. ''You have to start somewhere. If Mr. Langford feels he has to talk with a small group initially, start there.''
Forde said the program should be broadened later to get ideas from all concerned with solving the problem.''It's a problem not just for black people, it's a problem for everyone in Birmingham,'' Forde said.
Forde was an evaluator for Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative, a 10-city community based program to reduce crime in cities that included Memphis, Indianapolis and Atlanta.His report on that program showed aggressive participation in the program and partnerships with the community, law enforcement and prosecutors reduced violent crime by half in some cities.
Mayor Langford is correct -- the violence and criminality in Birmingham is the fault of black people; but so are the sorrowful conditions found in post-1963 Birmingham.''There are no overnight solutions to this,'' Forde said. ''There is a significant problem in Birmingham, and the only way we're going to do something about it is not just relying on the mayor to do something. We all have to do something about it.''
On February 7, 2008, roughly 2,500 black men answered the mayor's call to address black-on-black crime in the city of Birmingham [Birmingham mayor's anti-crime rally brings out about 2,500 black men, Birmingham News, 2-8-08]; not long after, 3,500 black women would attend a summit on black violence called on by a man who still had dreams of hosting the 2020 Olympics in a city plagued by black crime [About 3,500 metro Birmingham black women attend summit called by Mayor Larry Langford, Birmingham News, 2-29-08]:
A crowd of black women left Fair Park Arena in Birmingham tonight saying they felt empowered, uplifted and encouraged by a stage full of speakers delivered energetic speeches, telling them they hold the key to improving the community, their lives and the schools.
"I was really proud of Birmingham women as a whole, coming together in such a forum," said Felicia Sanders, 37, of Center Point. "I was just impressed by all the speakers."
Sanders was among the nearly 3,500 black women to attend tonight's anti- crime summit called "Leap Up to the Challenge." The event was organized to address black issues in the community including black-on-black crime, relationships, parental responsibility and education.On April 4 of 2008, black families would come together to watch videos of Birmingham in the 1960s, when the white people in charge of the city dared to fight a revolution that would birth a world capable of producing the very conditions the black citizens of Birmingham gathered together on April 4, 2008 to protest.
They even sang "We Shall Overcome" for old-time sakes...
All the while, Vulcan looked on at a city whose leadership and the majority of its citizenry were far, far different then the one that had erected so many years earlier.
Burlap sacks and ash did nothing to stop black violence in the city of Birmingham; Mayor Langford, who was electing in 2007 promising change to the "Magic City" under the campaign of "Let's do something" is in jail -- his grandiose hopes for the city piled under those discarded 2,000 sacks.
All the while, Vulcan looks on.
This has been another great moment in black history.