Many of those sections have been repealed — but the language remains in the official document.
Alabama lawmakers have tried to remove those lines from the state constitution, which was adopted in 1901 and amended hundreds of times in the 119 years since. But past efforts have failed.
The existing document still contains racist sections
There are still passages in the Alabama Constitution, adopted in 1901, that use offensive, outdated language to refer to Black residents of the state. Though many of its sections have since been repealed, like those on literacy tests that would effectively keep poor residents from voting, some relics from the Jim Crow Era — like the sections on school segregation and illegal interracial marriage– remain.
Alabama Rep. Merika Coleman, Amendment 4’s lead sponsor, said the amendment gives Alabama a chance to move on from its racist past.
Coleman did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Alabama’s constitution also strictly limits home rule, meaning that counties must go through the state and gain legislative approval for any changes they want to make within the county.
What passing the amendment would mean
If passed, Amendment 4 wouldn’t result in immediate change. If a majority of voters vote to pass the amendment, the Alabama legislature will meet for a constitutional convention in 2022 to revise the constitution.
They’d only be allowed to remove the racist language or language that no longer applies (like the since-repealed sections) and consolidate the amendments for specific counties and cities, which would shorten the lengthy document.
Once it’s drafted, a majority of voters would need to approve the new constitution for it to become law.
Past attempts to rewrite the constitution have failed
Alabama lawmakers have introduced similar amendments that would revise the constitution, but a majority of voters have never voted to pass them.
Though past attempts to rewrite the constitution have failed, Coleman said the renewed push for racial justice lends the amendment greater importance.
Alabama doesn’t have an early voting period, so voters, presented with the issue for the third time in 16 years, will decide whether to pass the measure on November 3.