The Alabama State Capitol building is seen on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 in Montgomery, AL. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington automate your posting via Getty Images)
Voters in Alabama have decided that it’s finally time to make some major changes to the state’s nearly-120-year-old state constitution, striking racist, sexist and otherwise problematic language from the document.
This week nearly 67 percent of Alabamians voted in favor of Amendment 4, giving state legislators the go-ahead to begin reorganizing and rewording some of the more outdated aspects of the constitution.
The language is a relic of Alabama’s troubled past — approved in 1901, it was written before women’s suffrage or the civil rights movement.
The document uses outdated terms, referring to Black men and women as “colored” people in several sections. It also makes distinctions between “white” and “negro” citizens for various reasons, including the prohibition of interracial marriage.
While over 948 amendments have been made over the years to change laws, the text of the constitution itself has remained untouched.
“This is a great day in the state of Alabama, where we show the rest of the country that we’re not the Alabama of 1901, that we are a more inclusive Alabama that’s documents reflect who we are today,” State Rep. Merika Coleman told CNN.
This latest ballot initiative is the third time in the last 16 years that a proposal to change the constitution was put before voters. It first appeared on the ballot in 2004, and again in 2012, but was voted down both times, according to AL.com.
Though Amendment 4 has passed, it will take some time for legislators to make the necessary changes—it is the longest U.S. state constitution at 388,882 words, according to AL.com. Voters will have to approve the final document in 2022.