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Patrick Braxton Was Elected Mayor, But White Leaders In Rural Alabama Won't Let Him Serve

It looks like white town leaders won’t let a new Black mayor serve in rural Alabama. But Patrick Braxton is doing something about it.

As Newbern, Alabama’s newly elected mayor, Braxton is at war with the previous administration. And after years of racist harassment and intimidation, Braxton is fed up. But he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, accusing town officials of “conspiring to deny his civil rights and his position because of his race,” according to Capital B.

“When I first became mayor, (a white woman told me) the town was not ready for a Black mayor,” Braxton said.

Still, the town is 85% Black, and 29% of them live below the poverty line.

White folks continue to thwart Black political progress even decades after the Jim Crow South.

Two years ago, Braxton said he was the only volunteer firefighter in his department, responding to a tree fire by a Black person’s home in a town of just 275 people. But while Braxton worked tirelessly to put out the fire, he said one of his white colleagues attempted to take the keys of his fire truck to keep Braxton from using it.

Braxton also tried to save a Black woman experiencing a heart attack. He drove to the fire station to retrieve an AED machine, but the locks were changed, so he couldn’t get the machine.

He raced back to his own house and grabbed his own personal machine before driving to her house. But he didn’t make it in time to save her. He couldn’t get in until the Hale County Emergency Management Agency director intervened, according to the lawsuit.

“I have been on several house fires by myself,” Braxton said. “They hear the radio and wouldn’t come. I know they hear it because I called dispatch, and dispatch set the tone call three or four times for Newbern because we got a certain tone.”

This, unfortunately, has been the new norm for Braxton, who was elected in 2020, becoming the town’s first Black mayor in his hometown.

He’s also been followed by a drone and was unable to get the town’s mail and financial accounts, he said.

So, he is suing town officials, People’s Bank of Greensboro and the postmaster at the U.S. Post Office.

In six decades, there’s never been an election in the town. Rather, the mantle has been a “hand me down” by a small percentage of white residents. Braxton became mayor after being the only one to submit qualifying paperwork and a statement of economic interests.

Photo Credit: Aallyah Wright/Capital B


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