Alabama was among the first states to secede in the Civil War. Montgomery was the first Confederate capital, Mobile was a major Confederate port and Selma was a munitions center. Alabama lost around 25, 000 soldiers in the war, and reconstruction came slowly and painfully.
Racial segregation and Jim Crow laws survived into the mid-20th century, when the Civil Rights movement campaigned for desegregation of everything from public buses to private universities, a notion that Governor George Wallace viciously opposed. In perhaps the most famous moment in civil rights history, an African American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger and was thus arrested; the ensuing uproar sparked a bus boycott and began to turn the tide in favor of racial equality. Alabama saw brutal repression and hostility, but federal civil rights and voting laws eventually prevailed. At a political level, reform has seen the election of dozens of African American mayors and representatives. And from funky Muscle Shoals all the way down to genteel Mobile, Alabama has contributed in positive ways to Southern culture.