MONTGOMERY, Ala. — “It’s a great day for the civil rights movement,” said Republican Governor Robert J. Bentley to a group of his constituents in Montgomery, Ala., referring to a recent amendment to Alabama’s Constitution that integrates the state’s public schools. “And it only took us sixty years to make it happen.”
The political move has been described by legal scholars and social pundits as “bold” and “representative of a more welcoming America.”
Edward Felton, a political analyst for The New Yorker, said he was surprised that Alabama acted so swiftly to make integration “official.”. “The Brown v. Board of Education decision [finding public school segregation unconstitutional] was fifty-nine years ago,” said Felton, “and to think Alabama would find it in its heart to implement those changes in its constitution before the sixty-year mark — it’s just a blessed day for this country is all.”
The amendment’s passage didn’t come without resistance, however. Three previous attempts to revoke the segregationist language failed, and the most recent attempt by the Alabama Constitutional Review Commission to propose integration only passed 9-7.
“It was a tough battle, sure,” said Governor Bentley, “but we just showed the rest of America that we’re on board with this whole civil rights thing.”
A tense moment arose during Bentley’s press conference when a gentleman in the crowd said that integration was already mandated by the federal government and that any change to Alabama’s constitution was merely symbolic. Bentley responded by arguing that Alabama has made great strides to provide equality to all its citizens. Indeed, many pundits believe Alabama’s constitution will allow blacks and women the right to vote before 2050.