Erasing Jim Crow Not So Easy in Alabama

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Jim Crow, that feisty fictitious character that symbolized segregation in the South for decades, is alive, well and on the ballot in Alabama in Tuesday's general election. And depending on whom you ask, he may just win again.

Since 1901 the Alabama Constitution has included language that requires separate schools for whites and blacks and puts in place poll taxes that often prevented blacks from voting.

Arthur Orr, a white senator from north Alabama, successfully pushed legislation in 2011 to give the people an opportunity in the general election to remove the segregationist language from the constitution. But not a single black lawmaker voted for the measure. And many blacks in the state, along with the powerful Alabama Education Association, are now fighting Amendment 4, which would strike Jim Crow from the constitution.

The problem?
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"If we approve Amendment 4, striking the Jim Crow language, we'd also be taking away from all of Alabama's children the right to a free public education," says Alabama state Sen. Hank Sanders, a Selma Democrat who is black.

"To some, seeing blacks take this position may look bad. But it really is good because it shows we aren't fools who will take this wolf in sheep's clothing that means us no good," says Sanders, a lawyer and longtime fixture in state politics.

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