Today, December 14, 2019, my home state of Alabama is celebrating its 200th Anniversary. There have been special events all year, but today is the grand finale in downtown Montgomery. I’m not there, but I’m paying tribute in this post.
We have to acknowledge the sins of our history where slavery was integral to the state’s economic and demographic growth. Cotton was king but dependent on free labor. We still suffer the residual effects of our painful past.
My grandparents, both maternal and paternal, grew cotton too. They did not own a plantation. They were sharecroppers in North Alabama. The labor for their fields was supplied by seven children in each family.
Hard work has always been a part of who we are in Alabama. Families have always done whatever is necessary to feed their families.
My farming heritage is a part of who I am, but I just play at gardening. I grow a few things to eat, but frankly, we would starve if we had to live on what I grow.
Alabama is both rural and urban. The stereotypical image of a redneck hick can certainly be found here, but we are much, much more than that. We have the poor and the very wealthy, but the middle class is vibrant and visible.
Alabama works. People serve each other and their communities through a variety of careers. Our institutions of higher education do more than just play football. Our churches have always been the backbone of the communities.
We are blessed with tremendous biodiversity. We are rich in natural resources. From the sugar sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico to the foothills of the Appalachians in the northern part of the state, there is beauty all around.
I know there are many things that still need to change. We all need to contribute toward its improvement. However, no one grows by working out of their weaknesses. We grow from our strengths. Alabama has many strengths.
So, this December 14th, we celebrate 200 years of a checkered past that is part of our patchwork future.