Fifty Years Forward… Are you sure about that, Birmingham?

Are you sure about that?

An article from the February 1980 issue of Ebony, celebrating the election of Richard Arrington – the first black mayor in Birmingham – offers this important quote [A Big Change for Birmingham: City of protests, police dogs, and bombs elects Black Mayor, Ebony, by Alex Poinsett]:

The mayor remembers that it was not too long ago when a Birmingham black could not try on a pair of shoes in a department store, or park in certain public lots, or work behind a sales counter, or appear on stage with whites. His brother remembers:  “Our parents were afraid for us to be out too late at night. We had to go through a white neighborhood in order to get to the one segregated movie theater. So we had to come home early.” 

Unfortunately, in now 74 percent black Birmingham, few department stores exist – a reflection of the economic climate created by the black majority. Black people have the ability to work behind sales counters, but these are primarily at title loan or payday shops that the 77 percent black Birmingham City Council has passed a moratorium on the issuing of new permits, hoping to regulate the only economic growth found in the city. It’s a reflection of the economic climate black people create for themselves, and word has it that patrons of payday shops in Birmingham are no longer allowed to try on shoes.
Being one of America’s most violent cities  — courtesy of its 74 percent black population –- black people in Birmingham no longer have to fear walking through white neighborhoods (there aren’t any – whites fled the city and created thriving new cities/communities in Hoover, Vestavia Hills, and Mountain Brook); they must fear walking through almost exclusively black neighborhoods, where frequent black-on-black crime is a grim reminder of why Birmingham once had laws in place to protect the interests of its white population.
Once they were overturned, the economic lifeblood of the city – white people – fled to the safety of new, all-white communities, leaving Birmingham in perpetual need of both monetary infusions to make up for its dwindling tax base (and still pay for city services) and blood transfusions for the hospitals, to help keep alive black victims of black crime.
Birmingham is located in Alabama’s 7thCongressional District. Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture, we are afforded a window into understanding the racial reliance on the EBT card throughout the nation.
In 2010, 16 percent of the households in this district required Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT), with black people making up 87.8% of the households receiving SNAP/EBT.  The 7th District is 61% percent black and 35% white.
Birmingham will try and celebrate all that has occurred between 1963 and 2013 as some form of “progress,” with Mayor William Bell unveiling a Web site and a slogan for the year-long celebration coming up this year – “Forward.”
What is“Fifty Years Forward” celebrating?:

THEY SAY IT’S ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN. And this has never been more true than in 1963, the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The events of that year revealed the best and worst humanity had to offer, as some of Birmingham’s most courageous citizens fought to release their city from the terrible grip of hatred and discrimination. 

Now, 50 Years Forward, we’re coming together to commemorate “The Movement That Changed The World.” And to celebrate those who sacrificed so much to make it happen, armed with nothing more than hope in their hearts, a prayer on their lips, and the winds of freedom at their backs.

Birmingham 2013: 74 percent black and a “high caliber city”
What have the winds of freedom brought to the black citizens of Birmingham? [The killing years, Part One: Accused killers in the Birmingham area, and victims, often under age 25, May 30, 2010, Birmingham News]:

When people are murdered in Jefferson County, chances are the killer was a male under 25 using a gun. 

More than half of the accused killers in the county were 24 or younger, according to a Birmingham News analysis of homicides from 2006 through 2009. 

Nine times out of 10, the victims were shot to death. 

The percentage of homicides with defendants under age 25 who used guns in Jefferson County substantially exceeds the national average, statistics show. 

In Birmingham, where nearly three-quarters of the county’s murders occurred, the disparity was even worse from 2006-2009. ·      Black males were 80 percent of the homicide defendants in majority-white Jefferson County and 89 percent in majority-black Birmingham. The national average was 57 percent. 

·       More than 70 percent of the victims in Birmingham were black males, versus 43 percent nationwide in 2007, the only year a comparison was possible. 

·       Guns were used in 86 percent of Birmingham homicides, and 83 percent in the county as a whole, versus 68 percent nationwide. Birmingham’s rate is higher among defendants ages 16 through 24.

Do you begin to understand why such laws were once in place in Birmingham and throughout America to protect not just the lives of the white population, but also the private property and integrity of the businesses they ran?
Here’s a little more from that February 1980 issue of Ebony:

Arrington inspired a record 76 percent black voter turnout, edging out “law-and-order” challenger Frank Parsons by 2,000 votes. About 12 percent of white voters and 98 percent of the blacks had picked Richard Arrington as their mayor.
 In a far less euphoric mood, the new mayor pledges to implement programs that will refine management and accountability in city hall, revitalize Birmingham’s downtown, improve neighborhood revitalization and stability and reduce citizen’s fear of crime by beefing up police manpower. “We have broken the barriers of public facilities,” comments State. Sen. J. Richmond Pearson, “but there is a great disparity economically now between the poor black and the whites. We need to be integrated into the economic system.” If that, finally, is the ultimate goal of most black civil righters, Mayor Arrington approaches it with confidence. “A lot of whites who didn’t vote for me nevertheless don’t want to see their black mayor fail, because the world is watching Birmingham.”

Black people can’t be integrated into the economic system that white people created in not just Birmingham, but basically any city or community across the nation (black individuals can, but you don’t base social policy on individuals).
When a city that is 74 percent black has to pass a ban on the issuing of permits to new title loan or payday stores, you get a good idea of the general creditworthiness of its population – with traditional banks and lines of credit out of the question for the majority of the black population, title loan and payday stores fill the void.
Everything from borrowing money to a purchasing a candy bar at one of the gas stations or convenience stores in 2012 Birmingham costs  more since doing business with black people is always quite risky. Whether it’s high interest rates to cover high default rates (that no bank would dare lend anymore) or Plexiglass protection at convenience, gas station and liquor stores to protect employees from bullets and muggings, trying to earn a dollar from the 74 percent black population in Birmingham involves a business approach normally reserved for post-apocalyptic war zones.
Some evil men bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963, taking the lives of four little black girls. This one event, however, can no longer be used to guilt white people from seeing the utter devastation of Birmingham wrought by a majority black population. Curiously, the murder of Birmingham Southern College white coed Quinette Shehane by three black males never became the sensation of interracial violence like the events of 1963 did.
But it did convince administrators to fortify the school, since it was surrounded by entirely black neighborhoods where criminality flourished:

A female Birmingham-Southern student, Quinette Shehane, was kidnapped on Dec. 20, 1976, when she left campus to buy salad dressing at a Graymont Avenue convenience store. She was brutally killed and three men were convicted of her murder.  

The murder reinforced fears that the neighborhood surrounding the campus was dangerous. Security was heightened, and a fence was built around campus. Three years of unsuccessful negotiations to sell the campus to Miles College had already been going on before Neal Berte became president on Feb. 1, 1976. The school had been considering moving to Shelby County.  

Because of the high rates of black crime in areas around Birmingham Southern, administrators plotted to move to a peaceful, majority white county. Without a huge endowment like the University of Chicago or University of Pennsylvania to provide lavish funding for a private army to keep students safe, a wall was erected around the campus — a fitting exclamation point to Bull Conner’s battle in 1963. 
All the promises Richard Arrington made to the voters of Birmingham, which Ebony magazine championed back in 1980, never materialized.
The downtown is dead, save for minor levels of white gentrification beginning to occur; the neighborhoods are all but dead, with property levels rivaling 92 percent black Detroit (“why hasn’t property value been declared ‘racist’ yet?,” you might ask – simple: the left needs to keep rates of taxation high on productive, responsible, law-abiding citizens so they can transfer the wealth to unproductive citizens); and the city resembles a warzone in terms of crime.
But that’s what the City of Birmingham represents in 2012. Preparing to celebrate “50 Years Forward” is… laughable.
Bull Conner’s mistake was in even acknowledging the peaceful demonstrations in Birmingham back in 1963; Our mistake today would be in not acknowledging the sorrowful conditions that black people have created in Birmingham and concluding that similar conditions found in majority black cities and communities throughout the nation are not caused by racism or white privilege — but by the combined efforts of the black individuals found in these communities.


Commemorating 50 Years: Birmingham’s Civil Rights Movement from 50_Years_Forward on Vimeo.

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