Friday, June 02, 2006

What's ahead for Saturday

My Q&A with Dr. David Lanoue, the chair of the University of Alabama political science department, covers the political season. The professor says:
"Primary elections rarely result in large changes, but the two races to look at are the Republican primaries for governor and state Supreme Court chief justice. There is currently a battle for the soul of the state GOP between the organized religious right and the more traditional business-oriented Republicans. The outcome of these races will show which side is in the ascendancy."

Steve Ivey is covering gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore's appearance in Oxford today.

In Travel, we examine what's happening in Bransom, Mo.

Coming Sunday, Star editor at large John Fleming begins his year-long series on Alabama's Black Belt. Fleming asks, "What is the quality of the democracy that has been achieved in Alabama’s Black Belt?" Along the way he points out some disturbing stats:
The U.S. Census Bureau in 2000 put the percent of people living in poverty in the United States at 12.5.
In Alabama it is 16.1 percent.
In Perry County is it more than 35 percent.
The per capita income of the United States is $21,589.
In Alabama it is $18,189.
In Perry County is it $10,984.
In the Black Belt counties surrounding Perry, the picture is much the same. The percentage of people living in poverty ranges from a low of 26.9 percent in Hale County to 39.9 percent in Wilcox County, while per capita income spans from $13,686 in Greene County to $10,903 in Wilcox.
For blacks, the statistical picture is even bleaker. While 35 percent of the total population in Perry is considered impoverished, 45 percent of all blacks in that county live in poverty. In Dallas County, it is 43 percent. In Wilcox, the percentage of blacks living in poverty is 50 percent, according to the Alabama Poverty Project.
The region also has been witness to a steep drop in population in the last four decades. Perry County is typical. In 1960, some 17,300 people made it their home. By 2000, the population had fallen to around 11,800.
The infant mortality rate in the United States is 6.8 percent. In Alabama it is 9.1 percent. The average in the twelve most impoverished counties constituting the traditional Black Belt is 10.3 percent, according to the Alabama Center for Health Statistics.