Amendment 4 could change 'racist and outdated’ language in Alabama's constitution, if voters pass it

Amendment 4 would authorize a process to make revisions to the state's constitution.

Posted: Oct 12, 2020 10:02 PM
Updated: Oct 12, 2020 10:38 PM

Come Nov. 3, you are not just going to see candidates on the ballot. You will also be asked to decide on a half dozen state constitutional amendments. 

One of them could remove what some call outdated, racist language from the state's constitution. Amendment 4 would authorize a process to make those revisions. They would then be considered in 2022 by lawmakers and then, voters. 

The non-profit, Alabama Citizens For Constitutional Reform, spearheaded this amendment. The organization wants the state to create a constitution that any Alabamian can understand and that is not outdated with racist language. 

"They still have words in there that are so racist and we don't want Alabama to be portrayed that way," Nancy Ekberg said. 

Ekberg is with the non-profit. She said it is a group focused on creating a new foundation for Alabama, one that does not include racism.

"This will allow the legislature to turn over to the legislative services the job of going through and eliminating redundancy, eliminating words that are illegal such as the fact the education article says that Black children and white children may not go to school together," Ekberg said. 

Last year, the legislature passed a bill authored by Rep. Merika Coleman of Pleasant Grove (D), placing Amendment 4 on November's ballot. 

The bill states the director of the legislative services agency would draft a revised constitution and submit it to lawmakers in 2022.

Once three-fifths of the House and Senate approved it, it would go to the ballot for voters, like Miracle Johnson.

"It just makes them feel like they still have that power over us," Johnson said. "They can still revert back to those ways because it's still on paper. Even if it's not a law that's into effect right now, it's still on paper, it's still there."

Ekberg said while this feels overdue, efforts in the past, specifically in 2004 and 2012, fell short. However, she is confident this time will be different.

"The average Alabamian should be able to pick up his or her constitution and read it and be able to say, 'OK, I understand what it says,'" Ekberg said.

The amendment will appear on the ballot stating:

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature to recompile the Alabama Constitution and submit it during the 2022 Regular Session, and provide a process for its ratification by the voters of this state."

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