MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to remove racist passages from the Alabama Constitution of 1901 received several major endorsements Wednesday.
The Retirement Systems of Alabama, Business Council of Alabama, and Alabama Retail Association each called for Amendment 4's passage.
"It's a no-brainer," said Billy Canary, the CEO of the BCA.
"It's the type of image that helps us promote ourselves as a state around the nation and around the world" Canary said.
If voters approve the amendment then it would remove sections that include references to poll taxes and segregated schools. Opponents to the measure argue that removing the section would also strike language that guarantees children the right to a public education in Alabama. Television advertisements aired in Alabama starting this week urging voters to vote against Amendment 4.
Dr. David Bronner, the CEO of the RSA, wrote in the member newsletter, The Advisor, that he views the amendment as a way to move on from Alabama's past, while dismissing any claims about harm to education.
Bronner wrote, ""In my opinion, this does not affect public education. Some lawmakers feel it does not go far enough. I think it is at least a step in the right direction. The racist language in our constitution is not helpful to anyone."
Canary with the Business Council, said approving Amendment 4 is a way for the state to show that is out of its shadow of the past.
"Every time we take two steps forward it's a great day for Alabama" Canary said.
He said the BCA views the proposal as a way to show potential future business partners that the state is a better place than it once was.
The chairman of Alabama's Democratic Party, Mark Kennedy, announced his opposition to Amendment 4 Wednesday, joining the AEA.
Attorneys who have worked in the past for the Alabama Education Association said Amendment 4 will do more damage than good. They also point out that all of the references to poll taxes and segregation have been invalidated by the Alabama Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court, which is why the amendment doesn't matter to begin with. They said removing those particular sections could put the entire funding structure for education in Alabama at risk.
Canary countered those claims by saying, "We're pumping more money into the Education Trust Fund and look at the objectives and motives of those that oppose it."