The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Back toward the days of segregation and poll taxes

Dec 6, 2004

A proposal to remove segregated schools and poll taxes from the state constitution was on the Alabama ballot this year. The proposal lost.

Yes, Alabama's state constitution was never changed to respect the rights won by the civil rights movement. The strength of that movement eliminated segregated schools whether or not state constitutions changed. The strength of that movement tore down the barriers to voting, such as having to pay a poll tax to vote whether or not state constitutions changed.

Now that the mass mobilization of black people has long receded, reactionaries of all stripes and not only in Alabama are coming out of their holes and trying to drag history backward. Voting to keep Jim Crow in a state constitution is a sign of how far backward back toward the days when it was acceptable for the lower classes, black and white to be treated as slaves. Back toward the days when the rulers said they had a God-given, divine right to rule.

It's not any legal words on paper that will determine exactly how far back we will be taken. The civil rights struggles stand as an example and a proof that the difference is always made by masses of people mobilized, ready to fight to defend themselves.

So it will be again.