HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Don Siegelman, the last Democrat to serve as governor of Alabama, has a new book, “Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Democracy.”
Siegelman, who went to federal prison on bribery and related charges following a controversial prosecution, said the book is aimed at trying to protect U.S. democracy.
He was in Huntsville Tuesday and discussed the book with WHNT News 19.
Siegelman said significant changes are needed in the criminal justice and political systems. But he is also confident that the racial justice movement spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis will help bring about significant change.
The former governor won several statewide races, serving as Secretary of State, Attorney General and he was elected Governor in 1998. He narrowly lost his last election Bob Riley in 2002.
Siegelman knows the power of the ballot box and is concerned about voter suppression tactics that he says are aimed at reducing black voters access to the polls.
“The people that we elect as secretaries of state to run our election system are not stupid,” he said. “If there are shortages of equipment or personnel at a particular voting place it’s done for a reason and we’ve seen it happen over and over again. And I hope that the message is clear, ‘that people are not going to tolerate this.'”
Siegelman said the protest movement that has arisen following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has echoes from the recent past.
“I think we’re in another period of transition,” he said. “Just as we came out of the ’50s and ’60s in the civil rights movement, African Americans were not deterred by police dogs. Their spirit wasn’t dampened by water cannon, they were not turned back by billy clubs. They marched on until they gained the right to vote. And the public accommodations act and other benefits.”
He believes the fight will continue.
“I think what we’re seeing today is a movement that is just as strong. It is not going to go away,” he said. “Congress is going to have to face systemic racism and deal with it in every form, whether it’s health care, the education tax structure, jobs, or the criminal justice system.”
Siegelman said while he was governor, he created the civil rights and civil war trial. He said the Confederate monuments across the state should be moved. He suggested placing them in a Confederate cemetery or another location, possibly near the White House of Confederacy in Montgomery, where the monuments can be placed in context as part of Alabama’s history.