Talking Points Memo reports:
In 2004, a bipartisan coalition of Alabama leaders moved to eliminate sections of the state constitution mandating school segregation and poll taxes. They assumed it’d be an easy feat — until Roy Moore got involved.
Democrats and Republicans led by then-Gov. Bob Riley (R) worked together on an amendment to remove language in the state constitution mandating “separate schools for white and colored children” and allowing poll taxes, Jim Crow-era requirements that people pay to vote that disenfranchised most black people.
The changes were purely symbolic — all of the state constitutional language had already been struck down by state and federal courts — but civil rights and business leaders saw it as a way to heal old wounds and make the state more attractive to big business. The opposite happened instead, and Moore’s fierce opposition likely made the difference.
“He had a huge impact. It was a measure that was set to pass without much opposition and then because he got involved it changed the dynamic completely,” said Susan Kennedy of the Alabama Education Association, the state public teachers’ lobby that supported the amendment.
Moore claimed he opposed the change because removing the racist language would force a tax increase to pay for better schools for black students.
Therefore, largely due to Roy Moore, this language remains today, right now, in the Alabama state constitution: “Separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race.”