Richard Arrington: Birmingham’s first black mayor

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s been nearly thirty years since former Birmingham Mayor, Richard Arrington was voted into office. As the city’s first black mayor, he takes us on a trip down memory lane, and gives newcomers to the city, tips on how to help the magic city retain its magic.

“I frankly feel our strives in bham have been tremendous I knew Birmingham in 63, I grew up in Birmingham…I’ve been here since I was five years old.” –Richard Arrington, former Birmingham Mayor

That was more than seven decades ago. In that time, Arrington says he’s seen a lot of changes in the Magic City, both personally and politically, with one common theme of Birmingham’s problems always being rooted in race. Arrington was voted into office in 1979, years after the Civil Rights Movement ended and, according to him, old habits die hard.

“You have to know your history and what happened earlier, but we also have to use that history to move ahead and talk about what’s going to happen in the future.” –Richard Arrington, former Birmingham Mayor

After two decades in office, he admits the fight to keep the city moving forward is met with a delicate balance, weighing the tumultuous past against its seemingly bright future.

As the former mayor, Arrington says one of the ways he believes the city can keep its momentum moving forward and thwarting its race-fueled past is by changing the political landscape.

“I want to see more accountability in the system. I want to see us elect people who have done something, who know how to make politics work for our benefit”, says Arrington.

And if the goals of current elected officials fail to match up with the will of the people, Arrington says voters should let them know when they hit the polls.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-CBS42

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