Fewer attend second Phenix City meeting about racial inequality, leadership

Three weeks after more than 750 people showed up at a community meeting to voice concerns about the removal of two key black Phenix City leaders, a much smaller crowd was on hand Monday night.

About 125 people attended the meeting sponsored by C.U.R.E.D. — Citizens United for Revitalization and Economic Development. Things have changed in three weeks. City Manager Wallace Hunter was reinstated on June 3 when Council member Jim Cannon, who is white and voted for the firing of Hunter originally, called for a new vote to reinstate the embattled city manager. Cannon then voted with Mayor Eddie Lowe and council member Arthur Day to put Hunter back in the city’s top post.

Central High football coach Woodrow Lowe was removed and has since been replaced by Jamey DuBose, a white coach who won two state titles at Prattville High School.

While Hunter said he wanted his job back at the first C.U.R.E.D. meeting, Lowe said he had accepted his fate and moved on.

Antonio Carter, one of the leaders of the organization, told the group that their work was not done.

“We ain’t finished yet,” Carter said.

He then placed an electoral target on council members Chris Blackshear and Gail Head, who voted against Hunter both times.

“We will deal with Gail Head and Chris Blackshear,” Carter said. “They could have joined in with Cannon and done what was right. We are going to handle it at the ballot box.”

Hunter, who was attending a city council work session on the budget, was not at the meeting.

“As we speak, our brother is in his office on Broad as city manager,” Carter said. “God gave us a victory.”

Mel Long, the leader of C.U.R.E.D., said he had expected a smaller group and was not disappointed.

Carter said the turnout reflects people who are committed to seeing all the people of Phenix City treated equally.

“We had 1,000 people here the first time,” Carter said. “We got a hundred or so tonight. That is OK. We have people here who are ready to step out and do what it takes.”

Janice Goodwin talked to the group about the school district. She pointed out that about 70 percent of the nearly 6,500 students in the Phenix City system were black, but only 116 of the system’s 427 teachers were black. She said there was a void of blacks in administration and teaching at the high school and middle school levels.

“Our students needs role models,” Goodwin said.