Alabama NAACP criticizes use of Trail Maids in Inaugural Parade

Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 07:10 am
Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) -- They're part of a long standing tradition that will soon become a part of Presidential history.

The head of the Alabama NAACP, however, wants Mobile's Azalea Trail Maids to stay home on Inauguration Day, claiming the group reminds him of slavery.

"These are not just regular costumes. These are the costumes that remind someone of the plantation in Gone with the Wind," Edward Vaughn said in a phone interview.

Vaughn went on to say the group would be the laughing stock of the Inauguration. County leaders say nothing could be further from the truth.

"We want everyone to know that these young ladies do not need to be identified with slavery," said Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine.

"I don't see what the dresses have to do with racism. I don't see it. It's just a regular dress to me. Just a dress they wore back in the day," said Carolyn Tius of Montgomery.

Organizers stand behind the tradition, but opponents say tradition is the problem.

"We needed something that could show Alabama's great progress rather than something that shows a shameful past," Vaughn said


Some people really need to get over it.
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Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 08:12 am
“I can see where someone who is not familiar with the Azalea Trail Program could look at a picture and see the antebellum style clothing that the trail maids wear and get the wrong idea about the program,” former Trail Maid, Lauren Carter, said. Carter works at NBC 15 and was a Trail Maid in 1993.


In the years since its inception, Mobile’s Azalea Trail has become one of the South’s foremost tourist attractions. The Azalea Trail Court, which is widely recognized as representing the finest in Southern charm and hospitality, has grown from a 10 member court who gathered for 3 days, to a 50 member court who represent Mobile year round at hundreds of civic events. In addition, the girls are in nationwide demand, and have appeared at the internationally televised Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, Disney’s Easter Parade in Orlando, Florida, the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Chicago Christmas Parade, the Indianapolis 500 Parade, the Presidential Inaugural Parade plus annual appearances at the nations largest 4th of July parade in Atlanta.

I was born and raised in Mobile. No one who lives in Mobile attaches the idea of slavery to the dresses. It is a shame that the NAACP would bring up this issue that has no connection. I do see where you could make that mistake if you had that mindset, however; The Trail Maids being part of this inauguration is such an honor to the people of Mobile and to have such an ugly sentiment attached to something we have loved and been brought up with is quite an offensive thing.

Maybe it was a bad idea. The fact is, these kind of dresses were worn everywhere back in the day. Godey's Lady's Book shows pictures of women in dresses similar to the antebellum style. The South had lighter material, lighter colors because it was a warmer climate. The dresses that are worn by the Azalea Trail Maids are not authentic replications of the antebellum style though.

I understand the South's history is sullied because of slavery. It is a shame - I would never defend slavery regardless of where it is. It was horrible and wrong.But it is a part of our history, unfortunately that cannot be cut out. But there were parts of the South's history that were beautiful. I feel like the Maids represent that.

The more I think of it the more I believe that it was a bad idea for whoever organized the inauguration particulars to choose the Azalea Trail Maids. But as I see it - maybe it could be considered a forgetting of the past and a moving on to the future. The Trail Maids are what they are...a symbol of an old city that was meant for hospitality and charm. I hope that others will look past the NAACP's claims and understand what it is meant for today...

Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 11:12 am
We also have an Azeala Festival here and "belles" dressed in period clothing. While I can see the clothing invoking thoughts of Southern culture, I can't see any further connection. To deny any reference to Southern history because of slavery is to throw out the baby with the bath water.
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Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 02:14 pm
The Trail Maids remind somebody of slavery; therefore they should be banned? How about a cotton field? Or a tobacco farm? Or a plantation gospel song? Or a wagon and mule team? Or a white southern gentleman or any black face? Just about anything might remind somebody of slavery. If somebody--anybody--is reminded of slavery, is that sufficient cause to keep something out of sight or ban it?

I had a couple of female relatives who lost loved ones in WWII and Korea. They wouldn't watch fireworks displays because such reminded them of the ugly side of war and the losses they sustained. I would hate to think that fireworks would become 'politically incorrect' because they reminded some people of unpleasant things.

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 02:22 pm
DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) -- State NAACP President Edward Vaughn says he didn't suggest excluding Mobile's Azalea Trail Maids from next week's presidential inaugural parade. And he has apologized for saying their appearance could make the state a "laughing-stock."

The 50 high school seniors in the racially integrated Southern hospitality group wear pastel-colored hoop dresses and matching bonnets reminiscent of the Civil War era. They leave Sunday for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.

Vaughn told the Montgomery Advertiser last week the outfits remind him of slavery days. But Vaughn told The Dothan Eagle in a story Wednesday he never intended to indicate he thought the Trail Maids should be kept out of the parade.
Source: FOX17

Actually, similar was reported last week already, like on January 9 at NBC15
Vaughn isn't commenting. He was originally quoted in a Montgomery newspaper as saying that marching bands from Tuskegee and Alabama State University would have been a better choice to represent Alabama at the inauguration.
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Bella Dea
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 02:32 pm
I agree with Foxfyre.

Let's stop all gospel music. I mean, it came from slavery.

Any black person who sings gospel is celebrating slavery and should be shot on sight.
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Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 04:10 pm
The same mindset is what makes it so time consuming to get a bill through congress. No matter how good it might be, someone just has to make their mark on it. I'm thinking of dogs and fire hydrants here.
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 04:19 pm
I agree Roger

Organizers stand behind the tradition, but opponents say tradition is the problem.

This statement is made out of ignorance - they do not know what the tradition is. It has nothing to do with slavery.

Vaughn told the Montgomery Advertiser last week the outfits remind him of slavery days. But Vaughn told The Dothan Eagle in a story Wednesday he never intended to indicate he thought the Trail Maids should be kept out of the parade.

See, the problem here is - he already made a stink about it - it is possible now that the Azalea Trail Maids will be a bit concerned about their reception in the parade. I will be the first one to say I let things out of my mouth that I should never let out - I wish we all could do a bit better though.
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