The Tragic City: Birmingham vs. Vestavia Hills


Paul Kersey has shared with us a revealing excerpt from Tanner Colby’s new book, Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America:

“Vestavia Hills sits just south of Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama and, at one time, the largest industrial center in the South. Together with the neighboring towns of Mountain Brook, Homewood, and Hoover, Vestavia forms the nucleus of “Over the Mountain” – the catchall term for Birmingham’s suburban sprawl, so named because you go “over” Red Mountain to get there from downtown. (p. 5)

In the wake of the 1963 Civil Rights campaign, Martin Luther King sat down and wrote Why We Can’t Wait, a personal remembrance of the monumental events that transpired here. “I like to believe that Birmingham will one day become a model in Southern race relations,” he wrote. “I like to believe that the negative extreme of Birmingham’s past will resolve into the positive and utopian extreme of her future; that the sins of a dark yesterday will be redeemed in the achievements of a bright tomorrow. I have this hope because, once on a summer day, a dream came true.”

Came true for some. As wonderful as life in the New South may seem, there is still the matter of those left behind. There is still the matter of Woodlawn. Vestavia may not be the bad guy anymore, but the fact of Vestavia – the gross racial and socioeconomic divide its existence created between city and suburb – remains very much the problem. In Birmingham, the dropout rate is over 20 percent. In Vestavia, 99 percent are walking out with diplomas. While 80 percent of the city’s schoolchildren hover at or below the poverty line, not one student in the entire Mountain Brook system is poor enough to qualify for an assisted lunch. As city schools go without working bathrooms, Homewood has just built a brand-new, green-certified middle school. I walked through it. It’s like going to eighth grade in the future.

Whites have deserted the city schools for good. In the 2008-2009 school years, out of the 27,440 students enrolled in Birmingham city schools, only 263 were white, less than 1 percent. Out of 1,157 students, Woodlawn has ten white kids. (p. 67)”

In this perverse country, the social problem of the day is the former White residents of Birmingham who fled “Over the Mountain” and who created some of the most prosperous cities in America and an education system that is objectively superior to Birmingham City Schools in every conceivable way, not the crumbling, failing schools and the incompetent school board of The Tragic City whose finances were recently taken over by the Alabama Department of Education.

Once upon a time, the purpose of public schools in America was to educate their students in core subjects such as reading, science, math, and history. The only metrics that mattered in evaluating school districts were things like excellence, competence, and performance. Now, the measuring stick of a model school district like Vestavia Hills City Schools is the total failure of Birmingham City Schools to maintain the quality of education in which White residents can have confidence.

Suburban Birmingham is indicted by the American media … for what? For prosperity. For a lower unemployment rate. For higher property value. For having competent teachers, staff, and administrators. For higher test scores. For higher quality public services. For safer streets. For having a dynamic economy. For creating and maintaining a higher standard of living than which exists in Birmingham.

The African-American community in Birmingham lacks the capacity to create and/or sustain those conditions in Birmingham Public Schools … so, the existence of Over the Mountain stands as an intolerable affront to equality, one which must eventually be eradicated through some combination of federally mandated “diversity,” “democracy,” and “civil rights,” lest its example serve as a reminder of what life could be like in Alabama without the nuisance of a meddling federal government.

Note: In his last speech in 1968, the celebrated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King claimed “I Have Been To The Mountaintop.”

In 2013, I can’t help but note that we can actually go up to that very same mountaintop – Red Mountain – and behold “the Promised Land” that King had seen in that wonderfully moving speech, which is Birmingham in 2013 after 34 consecutive years of black rule, and from that same mountaintop we can see Over the Mountain where the White people who used to live in Birmingham fled to rebuild their civilization as King’s dysfunctional Promised Land retreated in their rearview mirrors.

It goes without saying that Washington, the Mainstream Media, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement are responsible for creating, sustaining, and glorifying this fiasco. Were it not for the existence of the Union, Birmingham would probably be a thriving metropolis today like Nagasaki.

America failed because it was founded on 18th century liberal abstractions instead of 19th century empirical science – those abstractions, which are individual virtues in moderation, were taken to ever greater extremes until they were allowed to consume and destroy cities like Birmingham and Detroit.

Civilization be damned. “Equality” has triumphed in Birmingham under the Star Spangled Banner.

About Hunter Wallace 11898 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Excellent article. But you forgot one thing. Without an explicitly Christian basis for our nation, it was already under the Deuteronomic curses of Chapters 28-30, back before it began. That it took this long, was as a result of altruistic whites who ‘would not give up’ on the ‘experiment’ until the reality of race finally hit them upside the head.

    A renascent Dixie must be an overtly Christian Dixie. Theocracy, or nothing.

    Well…. we’ve already got nothing. Clearly.

  2. “Suburban Birmingham is indicted by the American media … for what? ” – Being beige, bland, and boring.

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