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Alabama anti-DEI bill: Birmingham Mayor encourages Black athletes to avoid Alabama state colleges

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin promoted "organizing Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state" before bill passed Thursday

An Alabama mayor is calling into question whether or not Black Alabama high school athletes should look beyond the state's public colleges and universities in the wake of a controversial anti-diversity bill.

In a post to Facebook on Wednesday, Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin took aim at Senate Bill 129, which aims to prevent any government institution (including colleges and public schools) from funding diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

The Alabama senate voted to approve the bill along party lines on Thursday, 26-7.

"Although I'm the biggest Bama fan, I have no problem organizing Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state where diversity and inclusion are prioritized,"  Woodfin said on Wednesday.

The bill, written by Republican Senator Will Barfoot, bars college lecturers from discussing or teaching topics it deems "divisive" relating to race, ethnicity, nationality, sex and religion. 

randall woodfin birmingham alabama mayor

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

It also has a bathroom clause prohibiting transgender individuals from using school bathrooms that don't match their assigned gender at birth. 

Alabama has 38 public colleges and universities that enroll around 250,000 students, including University of Alabama and Auburn University. 

"If supporting inclusion becomes illegal in this state," Woodfin continued, "hell, you might as well stand in front of the school door like Governor Wallace," referring to George Wallace, the state's segregationist former governor who in 1963 famously stood at the University of Alabama's entrance steps to oppose its first two Black enrollees.

(In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. referred to Wallace as "perhaps the most dangerous racist in America today.")

Alabama is 26.8 percent Black or African American (US Census). Birmingham is Alabama's second biggest city with a population of 195,084 (World Population Review).

-- Andy Buhler | | @sbliveal