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Diversity spreads across state

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-As expected, Mobile has become the second major city in Alabama to elect a black mayor. County Commissioner Sam Jones defeated City Councilman John Peavy by a 56 percent-44 percent margin in last week's runoff. Jones' victory was no surprise as he had almost won the office three weeks ago without a runoff.
At his victory celebration Jones used a line reminiscent of the slogan adopted by the city of Atlanta decades ago. During the difficult days of the 1950s and 1960s Atlanta dubbed itself a "City too busy to hate" and Peavy voiced similar sentiments on the night of his victory: "We are too busy to be divided."
Jones victory was all the more noteworthy because Mobile does not have a majority-black population and the man he defeated in the runoff…Peavy…is white.
And what major Alabama city will be the next to follow Birmingham and Mobile in electing a black mayor? Montgomery will most likely be the next, possibly in this decade. Blacks already represent a slight majority in Montgomery and the margin is steadily widening.
Smitherman was elected mayor of Selma in 1964 just as his city found itself in the eye of the Civil Rights hurricane. He became a national figure almost overnight. The national TV networks loved him because he was a great interview.
He would always give them a great soundbite.
I came to know Joe well and there is one story about this delightful guy I must tell.
One day while sitting in his office I suggested that he and J. L. Chestnut, the widely known black lawyer and civil rights leader in Selma, were not the bitter enemies they claimed to be. Instead, I told him I had the feeling they used each other to make points with their constituents.
He grinned, then picked up the phone and called Chestnut and suggested that he attack him on some issue and then he would return the fire and both would get a little publicity.
Sure enough the next day they were both on the 6 p.m. news jawing at one another.
You couldn't help but like a guy like that. And he wasn't a bad mayor.
A private foundation run by The University of Alabama has bought a $5.5 million jet that will be used as a chariot for athletic department officials and coaches.
Understand, no taxpayer money was used to buy the plane.
It was bought by the Crimson Tide Foundation, a privately run nonprofit organization which was created in 2003 to promote Alabama athletics.
He is as articulate as any man I have seen and also as photogenic.
I cannot imagine that once he is confirmed as Chief Justice…and he most surely will be…that he would give any thought to vacating that position to seek a national office but you have got to believe it has crossed the mind of some of the GOP powerbrokers.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, one of Judge Roberts' fiercest critics during the hearings, summed it up well: "You are good."
Biden's remarks were meant as a grudging compliment.

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