Lawmakers will remove segregation laws - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers will remove segregation laws

February 1, 2005

Albany- Eugene Bailey has been barbering in the heart of Albany for about 50 years.

It's what he was doing when segregation ended and integration began.

"At the time that they were talking about integration, or going to integrate, so we thought we would just participate," said B ailey from his shop, Harlem Barber, off Jefferson Street.

He and his wife marched and were arrested not far from where he still sweeps his shop clean. So he'll be one of the many Georgians glad to know state laws are free of racial discrimination.

"Those are the laws that are more or less keeping people apart," he said.

Georgia lawmakers learned last year it still had segregation laws on the books.

A study by the University of Arizona revealed ten states still have some kind of segregation laws. Georgia was one of those. The two other Southern states on the list were Alabama and Louisiana. Louisiana has since taken those laws out of their law books.

Now an Atlanta lawmaker is on a mission to cleanse the Georgia code of any law that deals with racial segregation.

"Therefore, we've introduced four bills that will repeal the last remnants of Jim Crow from the Georgia Code," said Atlanta Representative Tyrone Brooks.

House Bills 25, 26, 27 and 28 will repeal: the power granted to the Governor to close down any school that integrates; the Governor's power to shut down any school where people protested segregation; a law that would grant education subsidies to teachers who leave public integrated schools to teach at private segregated academies; a law that allowed teachers in private schools to receive retirement benefits of public school teachers.

So they'll soon be voting to take those laws off the books for good.

"We don't need any remnants of one of the most darkest era's in Georgia's history remaining as a matter of law in our Georgia code or in our constitution," Brooks said.

He also said that legislators lined up, some even waiting for an hour, to sign the bills he introduced in the House recently.

The General Assembly has set a special day to vote on the bills. They're calling it Family Day. It will be a rare Saturday session so more people can attend on March 12th.

"You couldn't go to the water fountain, you couldn't use the restroom, you couldn't go to a restaurant," Bailey remembered. "You couldn't do anything. Not together."

But together, lawmakers will clean up the code for the people who lived through that time of change, the people like Eugene Bailey.

posted at 11:26 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com

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