History was made in Alabama on this day in 1964 after a run-off election changed the course of the Cotton State’s political scene. Civil rights leader, the Rev. K.L. Buford, and Tuskegee Institute professor Stanley Hugh Smith became the first Black elected officials since the Reconstruction era.
Rev. Buford had amassed a reputation in the Tuskegee and Macon County regions for his push for voter equality and other reforms pertinent to African-Americans. Dr. Smith worked as a sociology professor at the institute, but the pair had a rather daunting task in getting elected to the all-white Tuskegee City Council.
Their win signaled change in Alabama. With a growing coalition of Black people and moderate white voters, the landscape for Black residents began to improve.
With Buford and Smith in office, Black residents saw roads paved, city services improved and other improvements. The rampant racism and lingering specter of the Jim Crow South was actually the council’s biggest barrier despite the growing acceptance of racial tolerance.
Dr. Smith worked alongside the NAACP as its educational committee state chairman. Buford was named “Minister of the Year” at the 56th Annual Convention of the NAACP in 1965.
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