Historical commission ‘under siege’

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 23, 2006

To the Editor:

The Alabama Historical Commission in Montgomery, plays a vital role in helping Alabamians preserve the places in the state that are associated with Alabama’s entire heritage.

The preservation of

Black heritage has a tremendous impact on the nation and the world.

Alabama, the state of my birth, is a state where the convergence of the diverse cultures has made us strong and well equipped to handle challenges.

Not only is the Civil Rights Act of 1965 under the microscope, today, additionally, the AHC is also

“under siege” and faces threats of being abolished.

Both cities are historically known for the civil rights movement that afforded millions the right to vote.

Before historical sites are successfully listed at the national level, it must be listed as a state’s historical site.

As a preservationist, I, along with my husband and our faith-based supporters of Willing Workers, successfully researched, preserved and documented the now historical Everdale Baptist Church in Selma, with diligent intervention from the AHC!

Governor Bob Riley approved our application in September 2004.

During this week, however, the Alabama Sunset Committee will conduct hearings in Montgomery. The committee chair is Alabama Representative Howard Sanderford.

Complaints stemmed from opposition groups, “Confederate Heritage and Recreational Divers” who believes the AHC should have “limited authority.” Earlier, recreational divers removed civil war artifacts from the Alabama River in Selma.

They were subsequently “prosecuted and convicted of theft for stealing from the state of Alabama.”

It is believed that both group are “extremist wing members of confederate heritage.”

Alabama is not the only state “under siege.” Recently, the Washington Post ran an article titled, “Jury is Still Out on Effects of White Gentrification on Black Communities.” The June 19 issue revealed the “loss of historic core Black communities in northwest urban cities due to White gentrification, high demand for property in urban corridors, etc.

And Portland, Ore., was cited as “the whitest major city in America and is rapidly becoming even whiter at its core.”

This matter affects all of us whether we live in Alabama, Tennessee or any other state.

Until all citizens realize that nothing will be given to us free, we must support causes that affect us as a community, or we wont progress positively as a society.

Our forefathers had the strength of faith, character and courage to face many challenges head on, and we must learn from their brave examples.

When we understand from whence we came, understand that we are stewards of our heritage, Blacks will not progress as a community, society or race.

It is with unity where we find strength and with divine grace are we able to succeed. The AHC ‘s hearing and its outcome is another wake-up call for Americans. History should be inclusive, not exclusive. In the words of M.L. King, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Mary Day Couch

Nashville, Tenn.