Lowndes County, Alabama, was established on January 20, 1830
Lowndes County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. It is named in honor of William Lowndes, a member of the United States Congress from South Carolina. As of the 2000 census, the population was 13,473. Its county seat is Hayneville. Lowndes County is part of the Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The county was referred to as “Bloody Lowndes,” the rusty buckle of Alabama’s Black Belt. In 1965, a full century after the American Civil War, things had not changed much: 86 white families owned 90 percent of the land in the county and controlled the government. Black residents worked mostly in low-level rural jobs. Not one black resident was registered to vote.
The success of the Selma to Montgomery marches and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, encouraged civil rights leaders to believe they could fight racism even in Bloody Lowndes. “The Lowndes County Freedom Organization” was founded in the county as a new, independent political party designed to help blacks stand up to intimidation and murder.
Organized by the young dynamic civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lowndes residents launched an intensive effort to register blacks to vote in County.
SNCC’s plan was simple: get enough people to vote so blacks might control the local government and redirect services to black residents, 80 percent of whom lived below the poverty line. Carmichael and others organized registration drives, demonstrations, and political education classes in support of the black residents. Passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act meant that the federal government was on their side, too.
In 1966, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization entered several local residents as candidates for county offices. It adopted the emblem of the black panther in contrast to the white-dominated Alabama Democratic Party’s white rooster. Whites in Lowndes County reacted strongly to the LCFO. In retaliation for civil rights work, white landowners evicted many black sharecroppers, leaving them both homeless and unemployed.
The SNCC and Lowndes County leaders worked to help these families stay together and remain in the county. They bought tents, cots, heaters, food, and water and helped several families build a temporary “tent city”. Despite harassment, including shots regularly fired into the encampment, residents persevered for nearly two years as organizers helped them find new jobs and look for permanent housing. Whites also refused to serve known LCFO members in stores and restaurants. Several small riots broke out over the issue. The LCFO pushed forward and continued to organize and register voters. The black candidates were defeated then, but others have since been elected. While their initial attempt was unsuccessful, the LCFO continued to fight. Their goal of democratic, community control of politics spread into the wider civil rights movement.
The first Black sherrif in the county was John Hullett, elected in 1970.
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,473 people, 4,909 households, and 3,588 families residing in the county. The population density was 19 people per square mile (7/km²). There were 5,801 housing units at an average density of 8 per square mile (3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 73.37% Black or African American, 25.86% White, 0.11% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 0.40% from two or more races. 0.63% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,909 households out of which 35.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.90% were married couples living together, 25.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.90% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the county the population was spread out with 30.20% under the age of 18, 9.10% from 18 to 24, 27.10% from 25 to 44, 21.40% from 45 to 64, and 12.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 87.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $23,050, and the median income for a family was $28,935. Males had a median income of $27,694 versus $20,137 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,457. About 26.60% of families and 31.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.70% of those under age 18 and 26.60% of those age 65 or over.