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Predominantly Black Town In Alabama Will Conduct Elections After Decades of Appointments

It’s about time that a small Alabama town will be able to vote.


Thanks to a proposed settlement reached in Newbern, Alabama, a predominantly Black town with just 133 residents, these individuals will now be able to vote for the first time in decades, according to Huffpost.

The town will have its first legitimate elections in more than 60 years. The next elections are scheduled for 2025.

The settlement was filed on June 21, but it must be approved by U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose.

This situation is new for the residents of Newbern, as for decades, white officials appointed the town’s mayor and council members "in lieu of holding elections." During these times, most residents were unaware that there were supposed to be elections for these positions.

“This is just one of many examples of the country’s longstanding racist practices that deny Black folks the right to vote,” said Leah Wong, a voting rights attorney with the Legal Defense Fund. “White folks in this town essentially handed down the positions of power to one another. Throughout the decades, there were never any municipal elections held for mayor or town council. Black folks weren’t even told how to get on the town council.”

Where is Newbern at? It’s about an hour or so from Selma, where civil rights activists were brutally attacked right on the Edmund Pettus Bridge while marching for pertinent rights back in 1965.

The settlement will reinstate Patrick Braxton as the mayor of Newbern. He’s the first Black person to have the position in the town in the jurisdiction’s 170-year history, according to Capital B. News.

Braxton was the only candidate to file qualifying paperwork with the county clerk back in 2020, which means he won the mayoral race by default.

Conversely, the incumbent, Haywood “Woody” Stokes III, hadn't even filled out the paperwork to run again. His father, Haywood Stokes Jr., had previously been the mayor of the rural Black Belt town.

When Braxton assumed office, he discovered that the locks to the town hall had been changed and that the town council had held a secret special election in which they simply reelected themselves. They then reappointed Stokes III as mayor of Newbern in 2021, around the time he began acting as mayor.

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