|Visitors are greeted by a locked gate at former site of proposed quarry.|
Residents of Vincent (pop. 1,982), in Shelby County, have shown that Blacks and Whites in a tiny Alabama town can unite to fight off a land grab, driven by a white-shoe Birmingham law firm, on behalf of a proposed rock quarry. K.B. Forbes, CEO of the CDLU public charity and advocacy group, revisits those events in a post today at banbalch.com.
Under the headline "True Heroes: Community that United Against Balch & Bingham’s Alleged “Whites-Only” Land Grab in Vincent, Alabama," Forbes writes:
This spring, we, the CDLU, drove to Vincent, Alabama, and met with the courageous leaders that united the African American and White communities to stunningly defeat well-financed Balch & Bingham political stooges in 2019.
In a shocking, lopsided vote, residents cleaned house and tossed out politicians who favored the quarry by margins as high as 69 percent to 31 percent.
The election results were a crushing blow to Balch and a planned rock quarry.
More than a decade ago, Balch & Bingham lawyers (and their public-relations stooges) spearheaded the strategic purchase of farmland and the fast-as-lightning rezoning of said land, and oversaw the lucrative transactions for a client called White Rock Quarries.
What was going on behind the scenes of the land grab? It was ugly, and Forbes provides the details:
Five years ago, we, the CDLU, met with residents who alleged that only white landowners were approached for land purchases, while African Americans were not; worse many of these African Americans were older, senior citizens, descendants of slaves.
Our reporting of the allegations exposed this abhorrent, immoral scheme and shook the town.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice from May of 2012, Wanda Threatt, an African American resident of Vincent, wrote:
“’The River Loop’ is predominately Black-owned property. Many of the inhabitants are slave descendants. Prior to the rezoning of the property by the Vincent Council, White Rock Quarries had surreptitiously bought the property under various names for highly inflated prices for the reported purpose of growing corn for conversion to gasoline. No offer at any price was made to a Black. The quarry bought what has become known as the purposed quarry site right up to the boundaries of Black-owned property…. White Rock bought land bordered by Blacks, but never from Blacks.“
The alleged “whites-only” land grab was central to a scheme to operate a rock quarry in the heart of Vincent’s historic African American area, “The River Loop.” The quarry borders the African American Evangel Temple Church.
While embattled and alleged racist law firm Balch & Bingham stupidly collects make-believe awards for diversity and inclusion, the reality is the law firm was involved in what appears to be a blatantly racist “land-grab” scheme.
Even historic slave graves are located on the property acquired by Balch’s client.
Does this story have a happy ending? So far, the answer is yes, writes Forbes:
The good news is that the rock quarry is now shut down. Rusted locks, chains, and a closed gate greet you at the entrance.
The rock quarry itself is overgrown with high grass and shrubs.
White Rock Quarries still owns huge tracks of land in Vincent, and the community leaders are still concerned that the company will possibly attempt to come back in the future and operate a rock quarry.
But for now, residents can rest assured that the city itself will fight the quarry tooth and nail.