A tale of two cities

Jesse Jackson’s recent visit to Birmingham led to his making some negative comments about the city. Dave Woodhall replies.

I see that Jessie Jackson used his recent visit to Birmingham to attack our city, claiming it bears similarities with Birmingham, Alabama, fifty years ago.

I don’t know much about Birmingham, Alabama – next to nothing in fact – but I do know quite a bit about Birmingham, UK. I know that despite the hysterical preaching of extremists on both sides there has never been a street anywhere in the city where I haven’t felt safe walking because of my colour. I know that black people are not prevented from entering or using any of our public buildings. I don’t for one second think that if anyone, whatever their colour, race or religion, applied for any public sector job in the city that their application wouldn’t be treated with equal fairness. Could the same have been said about Birmingham, Alabama, in the sixties – or even about many American cities even now?

Most of all, as I said earlier I don’t know much about the Birmingham in Alabama. But I doubt very much that if I were to walk through the centre of that city I would come across as many mixed race people, or couples, as I do in our Birmingham, the Birmingham that people from so many different nationalities I couldn’t begin to count them, call their home.  And if that’s not a successful example of integration then sorry but I can’t think of a better one.

So next time you visit this city, Jesse, do your homework a bit better. We may not be perfect, but as multi-racial cities go this Birmingham doesn’t have much to learn from yours.