In 1963, Birmingham, Ala. was a KKK stronghold. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went so far as to describe it as America’s worst city for racism, calling it America’s most segregated city.
Flash forward 55 years and the city is still a hotbed for racism in America, struggling to move beyond race-driven politics and ideologies.
The issue was front and center Tuesday when Mayor Randall Woodfin decided he wasn’t going to stand for it anymore.
Local Pastor Michael Jordan of New Era Baptist Church on Cotton Avenue SW, didn’t approve of the church coming into “his” neighborhood. He posted a message on a sign outside of the church saying, “Black folks need to stay out of white churches” on one side. “White folks refused to be our neighbors,” read the other.
“Whites left the inner city. They carried their churches with them and they moved to the suburbs. White folk have proved they don’t want to live next door to us or be our neighbors, or worship with us,” Jordan rationalized to WVTM 13. “Now they want to plant a white church in a black neighborhood under the umbrella of supposedly to fight crime. The real reason Church of the Highlands wants to put a white church in a black neighborhood is they have too many black folks at their main campus and they want them to leave and come to a church in their inner city.”
At the end of the interview with WVTM 13, Jordan made a final plea to “every African American who attends a white church.”
“Leave now, ” he said. “Come to your mainstream black church. Your focus is different. Our cultures are different. The white institutional church is under watch, because they elected a promiscuous, racist President that’s building walls.”
Woodfin takes a stand
But Mayor Woodfin didn’t appreciate Pastor Jordan’s message. He took to Twitter on Tuesday to call him out.
“There is a spirit of racism and division that is over this city. It must be brought down. We have to change the conversation to what we need it to evolve into. “Darkness can not drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that,” Woodfin tweeted.
There is a spirit of racism and division that is over this city. It must be brought down. We have to change the conversation to what we need it to evolve into. “Darkness can not drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.” pic.twitter.com/QuNGjqYrjS
— Randall Woodfin (@WoodfinForBham) May 15, 2018
Jordan’s history with controversy
Jordan has found himself in the midst of controversy before. The 26-year pastor posted a sign last year saying, “Undercover racist elected Trump” (sic) read one side, and on the other, “Trump deceived poor white folks.”