Mayor Todd Strange speaks during State of City and County
Butler Browder, the son of Montgomery civil rights activist Aurelia Browder, worries people are forgetting the lessons of the movement that his mother fought in.
The veteran and retired postal worker has staked out his campaign for mayor along those lines, urging Montgomerians to remember the true heroes of the civil rights movement like his mother, Claudette Colvin and others.
The lessons of those leaders, he said, need to be remembered as the newest crop of city officials seek to repair a broken education system in the city.
“That was really my point of feeling like I needed to do something along that line,” Browder said. “My mother, and all of her siblings, made sure we knew the importance of getting a good education, a good public education.”
The key to that is through raising more funds, he said. An occupational tax would be one piece of the puzzle, Browder said, while adding scratch-off gambling in the city would be another.
Browder said he believed that the council could pass scratch-offs themselves. State law, however, requires a constitutional amendment, which can only be passed by the legislature.
Funds from the occupational tax could fund schools and also help reopen closed community centers, he said. And while he couldn’t put it into place himself, Browder said he would lobby the school system and teachers union for incentives and performance-based award for teachers.
People, however, need to understand that public schools may be more expensive than private schools or charter schools, Browder said. That comes from the fact that they have to serve every single student, he said, and not a select population.
On crime in the city, Browder said he doesn’t believe the common refrain from many campaigns of more police in the city. Instead, they need to be smarter in how they use technology to catch criminals.
Browder worked for the postal service for nearly 40 years before retiring. He also spent three years in the Army before he was honorably discharged. He attained several education degrees from Alabama State University. Throughout his life, Browder said he has also been involved in the labor movement.
His mother, Aurelia Browder, was the namesake of Browder v. Gayle, which ended busing segregation in Montgomery and Alabama. Currently, Butler Browder runs a foundation also named for his mother, which he said tells the full story of the movement.
While many of the other prominent civil rights figures involved in the fight are heralded, Browder said it bothered him that those involved in the lawsuit aren’t given the same reverence. He said he feared that a simplified history will lead others to repeat the mistakes of that era.
“People from all over the country come to Montgomery to see the birthplace of the modern civil rights movement, to learn about it,” he said. “I saw how the story was told, and it conveniently skipped over the filing of the lawsuit.”
The qualifying period ends of July 16 for the August election.