This year marks the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four little girls and awakened a nation. Unfortunately, in so many ways, Alabama remains stuck in the 196's with its unspoken segregation, whispered disparagement of those in poverty, and a ferocious societal adherence to a literalist, unforgiving Bible. My state has the longest constitution in the country, with over 800 amendments that include requiring a horse in Macon County to wear a diaper in a parade. No, I am not kidding. Our poverty rate is one of the highest in the country and we spend less money on public education than the majority of states, and it shows. The evidence is, in part, our nearly 60% dropout rate. White flight and "brain drain" from Birmingham, Alabama's largest city, has left in its wake a segregated school system recently taken over by the state Board of Education because of mismanagement. In Alabama the entire tax base rests on a high sales tax, the most regressive form of taxation.
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