Tag: Race

An Unequal Inheritance: On the Whole, Black Families Start With Less and Stay Behind, Leaving Less For Succeeding Generations

Children’s inheritance from their parents includes so much more than just a monetary bequest in a will. It can also encompass the gift of a college education, support starting a business or buying a home, financial know-how or a family business.

That inheritance starts at birth. Black families, which on average accumulate less wealth in the U.S. than white families, often have less to pass down to the next generation.

The Institute for Policy Studies reported in 2019 that the median Black family in America owns $3,600, about 2% of the $147,000 owned by the median white family. After adjusting for inflation, “the median Black family saw their wealth drop by more than half” from 1983 to 2016, while the median white family’s wealth accumulation increased by a third, according to the study.

“When you think about how wealth is built over time, typically the way wealth has been built is through property ownership,” REV Birmingham Director of Recruitment and Business Growth Taylor Clark Jacobson said. “That is a ladder to privilege and access.” Read more.

Praise Pours in for John Lewis and His ‘Good Trouble’

Segregated lunch counters. Segregated buses and bus terminals. Obstacles to voting. Many people risked and gave their lives to topple these barriers, and one name that will always be prominent in those ranks will be an Alabama sharecropper’s son named John Lewis.

Lewis, a longtime member of Congress representing a district in metro Atlanta since 1987, died Friday of pancreatic cancer, and words of praise from at home and abroad have been flowing ever since.

“John often encouraged getting into a little ‘good trouble for a righteous cause’ and he pursued the cause of racial justice with love, and as a uniter, not a divider,” U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said in a statement released by his office. “He taught me that heroes walk among us, and that true heroes are those that bring us together. We lost a true American hero today.”

Lewis’ 80 years of life began up in rural Pike County, in a house with no plumbing or electricity, where he was the third of 10 children in the family of Eddie and Willie Mae Lewis. As a boy, he preached to chickens. As a teenager, he heard remarks from Martin Luther King Jr., followed the Montgomery bus boycott and later met both King and Rosa Parks. Read more.

Vestiges of Segregation Remain. America Is Fighting Over Them Today.

To understand today’s protests, you have to look at yesterday’s racial inequities, historians say. And you have to realize that, as famously noted by William Faulkner, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

America’s long history of racial inequality explains much about the intense, sometimes violent protests around the country that lately have cast a spotlight on issues of police brutality and lingering vestiges of the segregated past. It goes beyond Confederate monuments and beyond a single killing of an unarmed black man.

“Even though the George Floyd murder was horrendous and absolutely impossible to watch, it shouldn’t blind us to the fact that racial violence has been with us and our country since its inception,” said John Giggie, an associate professor of history and director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama.

“For me, any conversation about George Floyd doesn’t begin yesterday, it doesn’t begin with the civil rights movement. It goes all the way back to when we know at least 17 enslaved Africans arrived at Jamestown in August of 1619. And there we began really an American tradition of unfreedom that has persisted in some vein all the way to the present moment as seen by the recent killings of unarmed black citizens,” Giggie said.

He’s not the only one to connect present day problems with past discrimination.

The issues thread through society.

Schools with high minority populations often are poorer than majority-white schools; buying houses can be more difficult for blacks because of lending practices; health care is not as readily available in some majority black areas; black men are incarcerated in prisons at higher rates than are white men.

This is the first of a series of stories from BirminghamWatch that will explore those legacies of race. Read more.

Conversation Begins Over What White Privilege Means in Society Today

Earlier this month, in response to the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel delivered a monologue on his new acceptance of the term “white privilege.”

He said he’d rejected the concept because he didn’t understand it. But now, he said, he does.

“People who are white, we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens, if ever. Whereas black people experience that every day,” Kimmel said.

This is perhaps a sign of how recently he — and American culture at large — have begun to grapple with the concept of “white privilege.” Read more.

Conversation Begins Over What White Privilege Means in Society Today

Earlier this month, in response to the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel delivered a monologue on his new acceptance of the term “white privilege.”

He said he’d rejected the concept because he didn’t understand it. But now, he said, he does.

“People who are white, we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens, if ever. Whereas black people experience that every day,” Kimmel said.

This is perhaps a sign of how recently he — and American culture at large — have begun to grapple with the concept of “white privilege.” Read more.

Hundreds Gather in Birmingham to Celebrate Juneteenth

Hundreds of people gathered at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park on Friday to commemorate Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery.

Onoyemi Williams is with the group Alabama Rally Against Injustice. She said after weeks of protests and demonstrations, today is a celebration of Black lives.

“Because when you’re at war, you must take the time for self care and celebration,” she said. “We’re celebrating where we’re at so we can prepare for where we have to go.” Read more.

Monuments to a Divisive Past: Even as Some Confederate Memorials Fall, Alabama Has So Many More

When Birmingham’s mayor decided to remove a visible symbol of the Confederacy from a park in a state packed with monuments, memorials, plaques and place names honoring the lost cause, it made huge news and sparked a number of reactions.

“It was absolutely appropriate,” said retired Auburn University professor Wayne Flynt. Besides being a recognized authority in Southern history, Flynt counts among his ancestors members of the Confederate military.

His view: it was time for the monument to go. “I applaud the mayor for doing it. I applaud the City Council for supporting it,” Flynt said.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin defied state law June 1 when he had the controversial 1905 Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument removed from the city’s Linn Park. He promised demonstrators he would have the memorial removed to quell violence after a protest over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police turned toward destruction of statuary and downtown storefronts.

But there are still a lot of Confederate memorials of various sorts standing around the state of Alabama. More than 40 of the state’s 67 counties have at least one, and some counties have more. Read more.

Why So Many Monuments?

Why So Many Monuments?

Memorials to the Confederacy are hardly isolated to the South. In fact, the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Whose Heritage” report in 2019 includes a detailed map of such sites. The SPLC documents memorials to the Southern rebellion as distant as Maine, California and Washington — not to mention Washington, D.C. Most, not surprisingly, are clustered throughout the South. Read more.

Vestavia Hills Protestors Mark the Death of George Floyd

Protestors took a knee Friday during a protest in front of Vestavia Hills City Hall, mimicking the posture former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin took when he kneeled on George Floyd’s throat. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide outrage and protests. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, and three officers with him that day are charged with aiding and abetting a second-degree murder. Read more.

George Floyd’s Death Has Stirred Sympathy and Outrage in Diverse Groups From Birmingham to Hoover

People across Birmingham and its southern suburbs gathered Thursday to honor George Floyd and protest his death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

In Mountain Brook, hundreds of protestors sat on the ground and covered their noses and mouths for more than eight minutes, the length of time Floyd laid on the ground with an officer’s knee on the side of his throat. The scene resembled another carried out in Homewood earlier in the week. Groups have gathered in Hoover almost every day since Saturday. Read more.

Read more about protests, curfews, removal of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument and other actions in the Birmingham area.

UAB, Some Downtown Businesses Close in Response to Rumors of Violence; Woodfin Stresses City Will Enforce Protest Rules

Anxiety grew in downtown Birmingham Thursday afternoon as rumors spread of potentially violent protests. These rumors — which included that a Ku Klux Klan rally would take place in Linn Park — led several businesses, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to shut down earlier than usual.

Mayor Randall Woodfin dismissed these rumors as false in a video address Thursday afternoon, but he said his curfew — which includes significant restrictions on public assembly in the city — would continue to be strictly enforced by police. Read more.