Listen up, black people.
We are about to air some of your dirtiest laundry. It is the story of what happened to Macon County, Alabama – the home of Tuskegee University, still the third blackest county in America – after you seized power there in the 1960s.
Every February, White children in American public schools are forced to learn about the glorious accomplishments of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver at Tuskegee University, the greatest black scientist of all time, as part of mandatory lessons in Black History Month.
Today, I stood in Washington Plaza on West Martin Luther King Ave, where the Wal-Mart used to be in Tuskegee, until the store was abandoned in the 1980s because of the rampant shoplifting, bad checks, and utilities fraud that was being committed there by African-Americans.
In Tuskegee, the historic capitol of the black entrepreneur in America, there isn’t a single functioning business in the deserted Washington Plaza, except for a Chinese restaurant.
Most of the downtown stores are boarded up and decaying. There are ruined and abandoned homes all over the city. The paint is falling off the antebellum mansion that is the headquarters of the downtown revitalization effort.
Tuskegee is an even bigger embarrassment to African-Americans than Detroit.
Remember, Tuskegee was the city where Booker T. Washington set out to prove that African-Americans were the equals of White people, and that black education and black enterpreneuralism could erase racial differences over time, and that “white supremacy” was based on underestimating black capabilities.
No one who drives from Auburn to Tuskegee can possibly come away from the experience with their belief in racial equality intact. Bama fans can drive from Tuscaloosa to Greensboro for a similar experience.
As we drove through Tuskegee, we kept asking ourselves: where are all the people? Where are the businesses? What do black people do here? Where do the black scientists live?
We saw a McDonald’s, a Church’s Chicken, a Burger King, and a KFC, but we didn’t see a Winn-Dixie or a Kroger, where a normal person would go grocery shopping. There were homes without cars which looked abandoned to us.
Although we didn’t see any black scientists, we did see hair and nail salons and signs distributed throughout Tuskegee that pleaded with the community to “stop the violence.”
We didn’t see anything resembling a restaurant where an Auburn or Alabama student might get something to eat. There wasn’t a single shopping plaza comparable to even one in Auburn or Tuscaloosa.
Driving through Tuskegee, you get an uncomfortable feeling that the town has suffered a kind of civic death. It was the same feeling you get when you hang out in a graveyard too long.
But Mayor Omar Neal says it’s not that easy.
The city of Tuskegee is essentially broke. It’s millions of dollars in debt that it owes now–$2-million to the IRS for two years in unpaid payroll taxes and $700,000 to a local bank.
The city council has declared a financial state of emergency.
The Mayor blames the recession and a lack of retail sales in town.
The city’s already doing what it can to get finances turned around by cutting back to 32-hour work weeks for all city employees except firefighters and policemen.
They’re also not hiring any new employees.
Who killed Tuskegee?
The Confederate statute in the town square, as well as the surrounding churches, the older homes, and the design of the main street business district, suggest that Tuskegee used to be a much more important place and had a real economy in the recent past, and that there used to be a White presence here.
Something went horribly wrong in Tuskegee.
It wasn’t Booker T. Washington or George Washington Carver. Their successors seem to have destroyed the city. The epilogue of the “Civil Rights Movement” in Alabama, starting in Tuskegee, but moving onto other cities, is a story that hasn’t yet been told.
It is time to correct that deficit.
If African-Americans were going to succeed anywhere in America through education and entrepreneuralism and civil rights reform, it would have been in Tuskegee, where “racism” and “white supremacy” were defeated in the 1960s, and where Macon County has thrived under black rule for forty years now.
A glance at the present of Tuskegee is a glimpse into the future of Black Run America. Watch the “Life After People” videos below. It is like “Tuskegee After White People” right now.
Note: The only thing that sustains Tuskegee on life support today is state and federal spending.