Lowndes County, Alabama

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Lowndes County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. It is named in honor of William Lowndes, a member of the United States Congress from South Carolina. As of the 2000 census, the population was 13,473. Its county seat is Hayneville.

Lowndes County is part of the Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

History

Lowndes County, Alabama, was established on January 20, 1830.

Civil Rights Era

The county was referred to as "Bloody Lowndes," the rusty buckle of Alabama's Black Belt. In 1965, a full century after the American Civil War, things had not changed much: 86 white families owned 90 percent of the land in the county and controlled the government. Black residents worked mostly in low-level rural jobs. Not one black resident was registered to vote.[1]

The success of the Selma to Montgomery marches and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, encouraged civil rights leaders to believe they could fight racism even in Bloody Lowndes. "The Lowndes County Freedom Organization" was founded in the county as a new, independent political party designed to help blacks stand up to intimidation and murder.[1]

Organized by the young dynamic civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lowndes residents launched an intensive effort to register blacks to vote in County.[2]

SNCC's plan was simple: get enough people to vote so blacks might control the local government and redirect services to black residents, 80 percent of whom lived below the poverty line. Carmichael and others organized registration drives, demonstrations, and political education classes in support of the black residents. Passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act meant that the federal government was on their side, too.

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