Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Raines had sat on the sidelines during the mid-sixties civil rights demonstrations there, leaving him with a lifelong sense of Southern guilt and a determination never again to shrink from declaring his beliefs and opinions. Embracing a simplistic, perhaps even Manichean political vision, he once declared that “Every Southerner must choose between two psychic roads, the road of racism or the road of brotherhood.”
|Birmingham tried white racism; then it went all Black. That failed too.|
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The Alabama Department of Education will take over the Birmingham school system on Wednesday after the Birmingham Board of Education tonight declined to pass a cost-cutting plan. After months of stalling and delaying a state financial plan that included mass layoffs, the Birmingham Board of Education officially rejected it tonight. State Superintendent Tommy Bice said during a telephone interview tonight — after a more than three-hour Birmingham school board meeting — that he will formally intervene in the district’s operations Wednesday morning. The intervention will include the appointment of a chief executive officer and chief financial officer who will run the day-to-day operations of the district.
“Because of the resolution that was passed by the state Board of Education, we will begin full intervention tomorrow,” Bice said. The state school board authorized Bice nearly two weeks ago to intervene in Birmingham’s operations if it failed to pass a financial plan at tonight’s board meeting.
Superintendent of the Birmingham School System? Craig Witherspoon.
Mayor of Birmingham? William A Bell. From the picture, unless Mayor Bell is an alpaca, he’s an African American.
Chief of Police? Chief A. L. Roper. Native son of Birmingham who made good. African American.
City Council? Seven of nine are African-American.
School Board? Seven of nine are African American.
County Commissioners? Half of them are African-American.
Reed compared the situation to the early 1960s when Birmingham was the southern leader in commerce, but lost that title to Atlanta because of its attitude on civil rights. See: Alabama Gov. George Wallace and Birmingham police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor.
Atlanta, the mayor noted, was more progressive. “Birmingham has never caught up since,” Reed said.
Atlanta is in crisis. That’s not the message you’d expect to hear from the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the pro-business group that usually puts a cheerful face on the region’s future. But it’s at the heart of a plan the group unveiled Monday to jump-start the region’s economy. The stark description is a focus of the “Forward Atlanta” initiative, a plan developed for the chamber to help the region regain its mojo. It puts more of an emphasis on fostering startups and developing businesses already here rather than luring companies to relocate.
“Part of the problem is because we grew so fast for so long that even when we settled down, it doesn’t feel normal,” said Roger Tutterow, a Mercer University economics professor who said “crisis” is an exaggeration. “Once you go from being toward the top of the heap toward more middle of the pack it feels like unfamiliar territory.”
Sam Williams, the chamber’s president, said, “It’s very simple: This is the worst economic downturn in our lifetime and Atlanta is lagging in the recovery. If you’re in a crisis, the first thing you’ve got to do is admit you have a crisis. And that’s what we’re doing. If you don’t have a big and bold plan to get out of it, then our economy won’t recover until 2020 or beyond.”
The business leaders come armed with daunting figures. Metro Atlanta is only expected to recover about 19 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession by the year’s end, the chamber said, far behind many of its regional and national rivals. And the region has lost almost as many jobs as it created since 2000, growing only about 50,000 jobs during the decade. It’s a far cry from the booming 1990s, when Atlanta added 70,000 jobs to 80,000 jobs a year. (Business boosters admit Atlanta in ‘crisis’ amid effort to boost city’s economy,Greg Bluestein, June 25, 2012)
If you’re visiting Atlanta and aren’t looking to be shot in the face, swarmed by smack dealers, stopped by cops merely for being white, or set ablaze by an HIV-positive crackhead squatter, stay away from the area known as “The Bluff.” There are several more wholesome attractions only a few blocks southwest in downtown: At tourist traps such as the World of Coca-Cola, the CNN Studio, and the Georgia Aquarium, the thrills are more benign than being slit in the throat with a box-cutter.
“The Bluff” covers two Atlanta neighborhoods officially known as English Avenue and Vine City. Part of Vine City was designated in 2010 as America’s fifth-most-dangerous area. Some say The Bluff got its name because its narrow, hilly, one-way streets give it a fortress-like sense of isolation, but locals now boast that BLUFF means Better Leave U Fucking Fool. It is bounded on the east by Northside Drive and on its three other sides by roads named after black Georgia civil-rights leaders: Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard, and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It is therefore a testament to the, er, accomplishments of black Georgia civil-rights leaders.