Lowndes County, Alabama
|Lowndes County, Alabama|
Location in the state of Alabama
Alabama's location in the U.S.
|Founded||January 20, 1830|
|Named for||William Lowndes|
|Largest city||Fort Deposit|
|• Total||725.03 sq mi (1,878 km2)|
|• Land||717.94 sq mi (1,859 km2)|
|• Water||7.10 sq mi (18 km2), (0.98%)|
|• Density||16/sq mi (6/km²)|
|Time zone||Central: UTC-6/-5|
Lowndes County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. It is named in honor of William Lowndes, a member of the United States Congress from South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 11,299. Its county seat is Hayneville.
Lowndes County was formed from Montgomery, Dallas and Butler counties, by an act of the Alabama General Assembly on January 20, 1830. The county is named for South Carolina statesman William Lowndes.
Following Reconstruction, the white-Democrat dominated state legislature effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites by a new constitution at the turn of the 20th century, using tools such as the poll tax, literacy tests, and grandfather clause to prevent them from registering to vote.
Population has steadily declined since a 1900 high of more than 35,000, as the rural economy did not provide many jobs, and the effects of mechanization and the boll weevil caused the loss of jobs. Many blacks left the county in first half of the 20th century, in Great Migration to northern and midwestern industrial cities where there were opportunities. Young people continue to leave for towns and cities.
Civil Rights Era
By 1960 (as shown on census tables below), the population had declined to about 15,000 residents but continued to be majority black. The rural county was referred to as "Bloody Lowndes," the rusty buckle of Alabama's Black Belt, for violence against blacks. In 1965, a century after the American Civil War and decades after disfranchisement, white supremacy was maintained by intimidation. Although the census tables below show that population had fallen by more than half its 1900 high, blacks still outnumbered whites by a 4 to 1 ratio. 86 white families owned 90 percent of the land in the county and controlled the government. With an economy based on agriculture, black residents worked mostly in low-level rural jobs. Not one black resident was registered to vote.
The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and eventual success of the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 encouraged civil rights leaders to believe they could fight racism in Lowndes. "The Lowndes County Freedom Organization" was founded in the county as a new, independent political party designed to help blacks stand up to intimidation and murder.
Organized by the young civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), in the summer of 1965 Lowndes residents launched an intensive effort in the county to register blacks to vote. SNCC's plan was simple: to get enough black people to vote so blacks might be fully represented in the local government and redirect services to black residents, 80 percent of whom lived below the poverty line. Carmichael and others organized registration drives, demonstrations, and political education classes in support of the black residents. Passage by Congress of the federal Voting Rights Act on August 2, 1965, meant that constitutional voting rights would be overseen and enforced by the federal government.
On August 20, 1965, two protesters were shot, one fatally, in the county seat of Hayneville after being released from jail following a protest in a nearby town. A jury quickly acquitted Thomas Coleman, an unpaid special deputy, of manslaughter after his claim of self-defense against the unarmed people.
In 1966, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, the first independent black political party in the county since Reconstruction, entered several local residents as candidates for county offices. It adopted the emblem of the black panther in contrast to the white rooster of the white-dominated Alabama Democratic Party.
Whites in Lowndes County reacted strongly against the LCFO. In retaliation for civil rights work, white landowners evicted many black sharecroppers, using economic blackmail to make them both homeless and unemployed.
The SNCC and Lowndes County leaders worked to help these families stay together and remain in the county. They bought tents, cots, heaters, food, and water and helped several families build a temporary "Tent City". Despite harassment, including shots regularly fired into the encampment, residents persevered for nearly two years as organizers helped them find new jobs and look for permanent housing.
Whites refused to serve known LCFO members in stores and restaurants. Several small riots broke out over the issue. The LCFO pushed forward and continued to organize and register voters. The black candidates were defeated in 1966 by widespread election fraud, but others have since been elected.
The LCFO continued to fight. Their goal of democratic, community control of politics spread into the wider civil rights movement. The first black sheriff in the county was John Hullett, elected in 1970.
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 725.03 square miles (1,877.8 km2), of which 717.94 square miles (1,859.5 km2) (or 99.02%) is land and 7.10 square miles (18.4 km2) (or 0.98%) is water.
- Autauga County (north)
- Montgomery County (east)
- Crenshaw County (southeast)
- Butler County (south)
- Wilcox County (southwest)
- Dallas County (west)
National protected area
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 11,299 people residing in the county. 73.5% were Black or African American, 25.3% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.3% of some other race and 0.5% of two or more races. 0.8% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,473 people, 4,909 households, and 3,588 families residing in the county. The population density was 19 people per square mile (7/km2). There were 5,801 housing units at an average density of 8 per square mile (3/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 73.37% Black or African American, 25.86% White, 0.11% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 0.40% from two or more races. 0.63% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,909 households out of which 35.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.90% were married couples living together, 25.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.90% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the county the population was spread out with 30.20% under the age of 18, 9.10% from 18 to 24, 27.10% from 25 to 44, 21.40% from 45 to 64, and 12.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 87.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $23,050, and the median income for a family was $28,935. Males had a median income of $27,694 versus $20,137 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,457. About 26.60% of families and 31.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.70% of those under age 18 and 26.60% of those age 65 or over.
Lowndes County is served by Lowndes County Public Schools, which includes:
- Calhoun High School
- Central Elementary School
- Central High School
- Fort Deposit Elementary School
- Hayneville Middle School
- Jackson-Steele Elementary School
- Lowndes County Middle School.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Lowndes County, Alabama
- Properties on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in Lowndes County, Alabama
- Fort Deposit–Lowndes County Airport
- Battle of Holy Ground
- Calhoun Colored School
- Bates Turkey Farm
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- "Lowndes County", Alabama Department of History and Archives
- "Thomas Coleman, 86, Dies; Killed Rights Worker in '65". The New York Times. 22 June 1997.
- Lowndes County Freedom Organization - Study Guide
- Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt, New York University Press, 2009.
- Lowndes County Freedom Organization | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
- Document: Stokely Carmichael: Black Power (1966) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- Dr. Gwendolyn Patton, Lowndes County Freedom Organization: Political Education Primer, Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, accessed 30 March 2014
- "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Public Schools, Lowndes County. "Lowndes County Public Schools". Retrieved 2009-05-23.
|Dallas County||Montgomery County|
|Wilcox County||Butler County||Crenshaw County|