You Will Be Missed

tom-cortsDr. Thomas Corts, retired President of Samford University (among many other careers), died today.  Dr. Corts was a fine person and a strong advocate for reforming Alabama’s outdated 1901 Constitution.  I didn’t know him well, and I’m sure there are issues on which we would have disagreed, but he was that rare soul who cared deeply about Alabama and believed in its potential for greatness.  I wish he had been given more years to see his work come to fruition.

My sympathies to his family and friends.

One Response to “You Will Be Missed”

  1. Tom Corts (he asked even his newest acquaintances to just call him Tom) leaves a legacy of what is possible in Alabama if we ever shed the 20th century political tag-team dominance of rabidly racist Dixiecrats and their successors, Southern Strategy Republicans – a toxic brew of the conservatism of convenience, hypocritical homophobia and xenophobia, and the promotion of racial and ethnic fears as political consumer items. It is interesting to note that the senior senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby, had his DixiePub transformation performed during his first term as a Senator. First elected to the Senate as a Democrat, Shelby opportunistically switched over to ride the second wave of southern strategizing led by the Reaganites.

    Tom left the influence of his integrity on many folks to the left and right of him. He certainly influenced me to believe that there was a possibility of building a truly inclusive constitutional reform movement, complete with a delegated citizen’s convention to rewrite our antiquated, racist, inefficient, anti-democratic, anti-poor, socially exclusionary and politically suffocating State Constitution of 1901. In a state where there is no shared, inclusive, participatory, democratic memory, we must rely upon, indeed are compelled to developing a shared, inclusive, participatory, democratic imagination. Tom made an ongoing contribution to developing and implementing inclusive relational power that holds true to firm goals even against prevailing divisive powers and principalities.

    The role Tom Corts played in preventing the takeover of Samford University by the faction of Southern Baptists who chose fear and division over faith and deeds is a lasting legacy in the unfinished story of how the South got its rights right for the very first time.

    It was Dr. Tom Corts who spoke to the board of directors of Greater Birmingham Ministries on May 22, 2002, and convinced us to join the journey towards a new Alabama where inclusion, effectiveness, efficiency, democratic accountability and civic participation are not constitutionally inhibited activities. The sympathies of all of those associated with Greater Birmingham Ministries, representing twenty faith traditions, are sincerely extended to his family and diverse network of friends.

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