Modal close

Dear Democracy Now! visitor,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! brings you crucial reporting like our coverage from the front lines of the standoff at Standing Rock or news about the movements fighting for peace, racial and economic justice, immigrant rights and LGBTQ equality. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, a generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar. That means when you give $10 to Democracy Now!, we'll receive $20. So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in 2017.

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Topics

Racist Alabama Mayor Joe Has Got to Go

StorySeptember 12, 2000
Watch iconWatch Full Show
Topics

The people of Selma Alabama will be going to the polls today in the run-off election between long-time mayor Joe Smitherman and black businessman James Perkins Jr. In a city where the African American majority has fought for the right to vote, Mayor Smitherman is a living legend of racist intimidation and voter fraud.

In Smitherman’s 37 years as Selma’s mayor, he once publicly referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as "Martin Luther Coon," and he fired the first black School Superintendent because he worked to end classroom segregation in Selma’s public school system.

Thirty-five years ago this summer, Selma embedded itself in America’s memory as an important part of the nation’s civil rights struggle, when activists made history on the march from Selma to Montgomery. The goal of the more than 50-mile trek was to bring attention to discriminatory policies that kept blacks from voting. Peaceful marchers were beaten bloody by troopers who were supposed to protect them while America watched from their living rooms. Mayor Smitherman made his national television debut during that march, known as "Bloody Sunday." He was the mayor in charge when the police attacked the marchers with clubs and tear gas.

Selma isn’t a town frozen in time. Years of grassroots organizing and voter registration have led to today’s "Joe Gotta Go" campaign, fighting to unseat Smitherman. Black voter registration and turnout are up since Perkins lost to Smitherman four years ago by a mere 325 votes. In today’s election, independent observers have been called in to monitor the voting process.

How has Joe Smitherman maintained his power for the last 35 years? We asked the mayor to speak with us, but he and his staff declined. We are joined today by the people who are fighting for his defeat.

Guests:

  • James Perkins, Jr., the Mayoral challenger
  • Latosha Brown, the Co-Director of the 21st Youth Leadership Movement, a group aimed at empowering youth and mobilizing voters.
  • Senator Hank Sanders, Alabama State Senator.
  • Rev. Charles L White, Jr., the South East Regional Director of the NAACP.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.

Make a donation