In a small rural town in Newbern, Alabama, a power struggle is unfolding as Patrick Braxton, the town’s first Black mayor, finds himself locked out of Town Hall, facing racist harassment and intimidation from the previous administration.
Braxton’s plight is a testament to the enduring struggle for racial equality and the challenges Black leaders face in gaining political power.
Braxton recalls how, upon becoming mayor, he was told that the town wasn’t ready for a Black mayor, reflecting the deeply ingrained racial biases that still persist despite decades of progress.
The town’s population is predominantly Black, yet white leaders have been reluctant to relinquish their positions of power, denying Black residents the opportunity to govern themselves.
Remarkably, Newbern is 85% Black, and 29% of Black people there live below the poverty line.
“When I first became mayor, [a white woman told me] the town was not ready for a Black mayor,” Braxton stated.
The situation in Newbern mirrors a broader pattern of Black political underrepresentation and disenfranchisement across the South. Despite advances in civil rights, some communities still employ various tactics to suppress Black political progress, such as tampering with ballots and restricting reading materials.
Braxton’s experience as mayor has been marred by numerous instances of discrimination. He has been followed by drones, prevented from accessing official town records and financial accounts, and even had official town documents destroyed. Despite these challenges, Braxton remains determined to serve his community and is running for mayor again in 2025.
This ongoing struggle for racial equality calls for greater voter education, registration, and participation, and the need to address issues like food security and youth programming. It also underscores the importance of grassroots efforts to build a more inclusive and equitable society.
As Braxton and his team continue their legal battle to uphold democratic values, the town of Newbern stands at a crossroads. With the right support and engagement, this tight-knit community has the potential to overcome its history of discrimination and usher in a