Jefferson County Citizens Coalition

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The Jefferson County Citizens Coalition is a political organization of African American Democrats which mobilized and influenced black voters in central Alabama to vote as a bloc. The group was founded in 1977 by then-Mayor of Birmingham Richard Arrington Jr, who split with the statewide Alabama Democratic Conference and formed the new group as a chapter of the Alabama New South Coalition.

Later the Jefferson County Group split with the New South Coalition to become an independent organization. It was incorporated as the Alabama Citizens Coalition on September 13, 1983.

The Coalition became known for the "blue ballot" pre-marked sample ballots its volunteers distributed outside polling places. JCCC-backed candidates enjoyed reliable success in majority-black districts.

The Coalition's dominance of local races met its first major upset with Bernard Kincaid's successful campaign to unseat Arrington's appointed interim-mayor William Bell in 1999. Kincaid was a leader in the older Jefferson County Progressive Democratic Council. At the time, the coalition was chaired by Berrick Roseman.

Eric Major served a two-year term as president of the Coalition from 2006 to 2008, but the organization foundered. In 2009 Arrington and Earl Hilliard launched a New Jefferson County Citizens Coalition, preparing to support candidates in the 2009 Birmingham City Council election and the 2011 Birmingham mayoral election.

Meanwhile, the older group was revived, with Major as chair, in 2014. It spun-off a non-profit group, the "Jefferson County Citizen's Coalition" (with an apostrophe), in February 2016, with Major as director. Major stepped down from the political organization to campaign for Jefferson County Treasurer. The appearance of pre-marked blue ballots from the JCCC with Arrington's photograph as "Founder and Chairman Emeritus" appeared, endorsing Major along with a slate of candidates for office. Arrington filed suit, alleging that the campaign materials violated state law. Judge Joseph Boohaker issued a restraining order to prevent Major from distributing materials that implied the endorsement of Arrington or the Jefferson County Citizens Coalition in the runoff. Major disputed Arrington's claims in defending himself in the ongoing suit.

References

  • Spencer, Thomas (September 26, 2007) "Political organizations contend for influence in mayor's race." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (April 1, 2009) "Former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington returns to city politics." The Birmingham News
  • Faulk, Kent (March 31, 2016) "Richard Arrington lawsuit: Candidate "hijacked" his name and his coalition's good will." The Birmingham News