DiverseCity

An exploration of race in Mobile and Baldwin counties. By Gabriel Tynes

DiverseCity

Panel discusses racially disproportionate student performance

Examining the large disparities between the standardized test results of black and white students across the state, the 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile held a town hall meeting last week centered around one question: Are systems failing black children? The short answer appeared to be yes, but the reasons behind it and the proposed solutions varied considerably among a six-member panel. “In Alabama, the gaps between white and black students in reading is about a 25 percentage point difference,” said panelist Dr. Jeremiah Newell, chief operating officer of the Mobile Area Education Foundation. “The work now is about agreeing...

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Mainstream newspapers often questioned Civil Rights movement

BY JOHN KELSEY In many regards, the civil disobedience and unrest of the Civil Rights era parallels today’s headlines. One big difference between now and then, however, is information was much easier to control than it is today. Now, anyone with a smartphone can be a “citizen journalist.” While the media’s coverage of race relations in this country can be traced back centuries, there was a sense of urgency with the Civil Rights movement where the issue was paramount. Take Martin Luther King Jr., for example, the most iconic of figures from the movement. A March 12, 1965, editorial published by the Mobile Press-Register just a few days after Selma’s Bloody Sunday carried the headline, “King Acts Like King And Gets Away With It.” It begins: We have said in effect before now that troublemaking racial agitator Martin Luther King fancied himself king of the United States of America. “They certainly did view him as the villain of the story,” said Frye Gaillard, a local writer, regarding how a large portion of the media portrayed King. The entirety of March 1965, the Press-Register was pretty relentless and made no question of its disdain for King, with editorials titled “Tell King to Pipe Down” and “King Now Tries to Hide Behind State Troopers.” It wasn’t just Southern newspapers; most publications during the time seemed to either support the demonstrators or...

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COVER STORY: Baldwin’s population soars as whites flee Mobile

Regardless of whether or not race was a factor in Mobile’s divisive 2013 mayoral election, it appears to be among the first referendums in the city’s nearly 300-year history where African-Americans were the majority population. Meanwhile, Mobile’s white population, which peaked in the mid-20th century shortly after annexations more than doubled the city’s total land area, has steadily declined since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and continued to decline further after 1985, when the municipal government adopted its current council/mayor form to foster greater political representation of minority communities. At the same time, the white...

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Some fear Daphne redistricting will harm minority voters

Following an inequitable population increase in at least two of its seven voting districts, the Daphne City Council in June approved spending $14,520 to pay Mobile-based Carey Technology LLC to redraw its district lines to restore balance. But some are now questioning whether the plan will dilute the city’s minority voting bloc. The redistricting plan would address population growth in District 7, the location of high-end homes at the TimberCreek golf course, as well as in District 4, which includes a small portion of southern Lake Forest, several subdivisions around County Road 13 and more recent, isolated annexations on...

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Black judicial nominees encumbered by politics

Although African-Americans represent more than a third of Mobile County’s population and 53 percent of inmates booked into the Mobile County Metro Jail in the first six months of 2015, there are currently no black judges at either the district or circuit court levels in the county. Of the 17 judges currently on both courts, there are 14 white men and three white women, lending to a lack of diversity and a possible issue of fairness for defendants of color, State Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile) said. “It’s more than a race issue,” she said. “Mobile County is the second-largest...

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Data indicates clear disparity between Mobile’s black and white neighborhoods

(Gabriel Tynes) A single family household in Mobile’s richest precinct, which is 95 percent white and boasts a median household income of $108,868. Only 7.9 percent of voters in the precinct voted for Sam Jones, the black candidate, in the 2013 mayoral election. (Scroll for comparison to Mobile’s poorest precinct.) (Gabriel Tynes) A single family household in Mobile’s poorest precinct, which is 84 percent black and suffers from a median household income of $17,556. Only 2.5 percent of voters in the precinct voted for Sandy Stimpson, the white candidate, in the 2013 mayoral election. (Scroll for comparison to Mobile’s...

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Distrust at the heart of Fairhope annexation debate

On a Friday evening in late September, Pastor Henry A. Crawford and a handful of black residents who live just a few miles south of downtown Fairhope met at Faith Temple Church of God in Christ to talk about race issues and inclusion in the city. Crawford named a handful of reasons why residents who live near the church — on South Ingleside Street just outside Fairhope’s corporate limits — should seek to be annexed into the city. The first and most important reason is representation on the Fairhope City Council, Crawford said. “Right now the people who live...

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Diverse student body not mirrored in USA’s faculty demographics

BY JOHN KELSEY Alabama’s higher education system has had a storied past when it comes to welcoming diversity. Gov. George Wallace’s 1963 “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” where he attempted to prevent the racial integration of the University of Alabama, wasn’t the end of the state’s scrutiny by the federal government. Several Alabama colleges and universities in 1983 were again on the cusp of being forced to reevaluate their desegregation efforts. Then, predominately white institutions (PWIs), as they are still known today, were implicated in a lawsuit brought by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), arguing they were still...

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