Crum blazed trail for county

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jimmy Crum was a trailblazer.

The longtime Butler County Commissioner, who passed away early Saturday morning at the age of 73, helped shape the political landscape in Butler County.

In 1984, Crum became the first black man elected to the Butler County Commission. His constituents were so pleased with his performance, that they elected him to two more terms in office. Crum was later re-appointed to the commission to fill a vacancy created by the death of Daniel Robinson.

Email newsletter signup

During his third term on the commission, Crum accomplished more firsts.

He became the first chairman of the Butler County Commission to be selected from the ranks of the commissioners. Previously the county’s probate judge had served as the chairman.

He was also the first black man to hold the position of chairman.

Crum was a member of the first graduating class of the Alabama County Commissioners College, which is sponsored by Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services, and he helped establish the county’s first commission of economic development.

Crum’s political career came to an end earlier this year when he was defeated in the Democratic primary. Shortly after his final meeting as a county commissioner, we were able to meet with Crum and discuss his 16 years in office.

What we learned from that conversation was that Crum was a deeply humble man, who shied away from discussing his own accomplishments.

But those accomplishments are worthy of being discussed, especially in light of Crum’s recent passing.

When Allin Whittle, who replaced Crum on the commission, took the oath of office, he said that he stood on the shoulders of men like Jimmy Crum and Daniel Robinson.

Whittle’s comment wasn’t just lip service. He meant it, and he was right.

For nearly two decades, Jimmy Crum helped guide our county, and perhaps even more importantly, created opportunities for minorities to serve in our county’s government.

That’s something that we shouldn’t soon forget.