Integrating the troopers
The Alabama state troopers long symbolized systematic oppression in the South and, as late as 1972, remained an all-white institution. In 1963, troopers stood behind George Wallace and his promise of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever," and in 1965 beat civil rights activists during the march from Selma to Montgomery. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed Paradise v. Allen in 1972 and transformed the troopers forever and set legal precedent.
Alabama was ordered to hire one qualified African-American trooper for every white trooper hired, until the force was 25 percent black.
State officials resisted, imposing a virtual ban on hiring to preserve the all-white force and making it difficult for newly hired African-American troopers to complete training. African-American officers also were not allowed to advance by state officials who refused to implement fair promotion tests.
In 1987, the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In view of the troopers' long history of discrimination, the high court upheld the Center's controversial affirmative action remedy.
The case finally ended in 1995, more than 23 years after it began. The Alabama state troopers have been transformed from a symbol of oppression to evidence of affirmative action's success, with the highest percentage of minority officers in the nation.
3/24/1972: District Court entered finding of liability and remedial order (340 F. Supp 703)
12/15/1983: District Court required that at least 50 percent of all promotions to corporal and above must be black troopers, as long as qualified black troopers were available (585 F. Supp 72)
08/12/1985: Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed District Court promotions plan (767 F.2d 1514)
02/25/1987: Supreme Court landmark decision upheld race-based promotions plan (480 U.S. 149)
02/01/1988: Consent decree approved