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Ted Koppel: “Alabama has taken its place among the great states”

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Nearly 50 years after walking alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of others while reporting on the civil rights march in Selma, veteran journalist Ted Koppel says the Alabama of today is a “totally different place” than the Alabama of 50 years ago.

“Alabama has taken its place among the great states,” he said. “It’s always been a great state in some respects, but not in so far as civil rights were concerned. That’s changed, and that’s been a huge change for the better.”

Koppel was in Birmingham on Thursday night to interview fellow veteran journalist Jesse Lewis. Lewis, who founded The Birmingham Times newspaper in 1963, spoke with Koppel at the Alabama Power headquarters in downtown Birmingham to discuss the state’s civil rights past, present and future.

“The civil rights movement is not over,” Koppel told a CBS 42 reporter before his conversation with Lewis. “It’s altered. It doesn’t have to use the same tactics anymore. It has made enormous progress. The kind of world I found down here in Alabama in 1965 would have been unrecognizable to someone of your generation. Does that mean racism is dead? Does that mean that we no longer have any civil rights hurdles to overcome? Absolutely not. But is the Alabama of today a totally different place from the Alabama of 50 years ago? Oh yes it is, and … I would say much for the better.”

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