More discussion about inclusion at Tuesday’s council meeting

04.4.2007 by André Natta · → 1 Comment

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Several people anticipated Frank Matthews’ presentation before Birmingham City Council on Tuesday morning asking for the city to consider a resolution apologizing for slavery. With a noose in hand, Matthews spoke of city founder and Arlington owner Judge William Mudd’s owning 37 slaves as registered in the 1860 census. He did not read his proposed resolution apologize for slavery and its after effects. There was also no discussion about the future of his proposed resolution.

The conversation later returned to last week’s inclusion resolution submitted by Councilor Valerie Abbott at the end of the meeting. Abbott, who has announced the formation of an exploratory committee for this fall’s mayoral campaign, submitted the document during last week’s meeting asking the city to declare itself an inclusive community after attending the annual National League of Cities conference.

Councilor William Bell initiated the conversation during his general announcements, stating that he was in fact sick last week and unable to attend the meeting and not avoiding the vote as some had suggested via e-mail and phone calls to his office since. Bell said that he would vote for the resolution if it came up again and stated for the record that he would not be able to attend meetings in the near future due to family issues.

Several councilors then took the opportunity to explain their vote from the previous week. Councilor Miriam Witherspoon stated that her issue with the resolution as it was presented was with the language contained within the document. The language used in the resolution was taken from the National League of Cities campaign. She said that she felt as though it did not have enough teeth to do anything, but supported working on a new resolution for presentation. Councilor Steven Hoyt reiterated that he believed that The Birmingham Pledge already covered many of the issues contained in the proposed resolution. Hoyt suggested that if necessary the pledge needed to be revisited and revised.

Councilor Joel Montgomery said he believed the resolution should be sent back to committee for additional work and said that he’d be interested in seeing if Abbott would bring the resolution to the council after the election, calling it election year politics. Abbott responded by informing those in attendance that the resolution had been sent to the Administration committee for review and that it had passed unanimously. Montgomery later attempted to present a resolution stating that the council did not support any form of discrimination. The wording of the resolution was questioned by Judge Pearson who stated that there are lawful forms of discrimination carried out every day. After Montgomery changed the wording of the his proposal to included unlawful discrimination, the measure failed to pass as it needed unanimous approval.

Councilor Roderick Royal reiterated his concern about equating the current gay and lesbian rights issue with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He also declined a suggestion by Montgomery to place the resolution in the education committee for reworking as he felt that some would criticize whatever document came out of the committee due to his comments.

During the discussion, Abbott informed the council that she intended to send a copy of the resolution to them via e-mail so that they may review and change as they saw fit. There was no timetable set for revisiting the resolution.

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Filed under: 35203 · Alabama · Birmingham · City Council · News


  1. […] has introduced her resolution for a vote. The first time led to an interesting debate that week and an even more interesting discussion the following week […]