Will Southern Company Take a Stand Against Racism?

“…Should [Balch & Bingham] have the right to suppress African-Americans? You think that’s okay? I’m asking you point blank, do you think it’s okay? Do you find it morally repugnant or not Jim? Come on take a stand!“— CDLU to Southern Company’s Chief Compliance Officer Jim Kerr on phone call.

With an annual shareholders meeting less than a month away, will Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning remain silent or show true leadership?

When Jim Kerr, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Southern, called us in mid-January to say Southern would do nothing to hold Balch & Bingham accountable for alleged racist and unscrupulous behavior,  it appears Kerr may have violated his own compliance principles.

Southern Company writes on their website:

At Southern Company, we are committed to conducting business with honesty, integrity and fairness. An essential part of this commitment is our requirement that we conduct our business in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. We also expect our suppliers/contractors, in their work with us, to conduct themselves with honesty, integrity, fairness and a commitment to legal compliance. Suppliers/contractors are expected to comply with all applicable laws and regulations and certain Southern Company policies, and to communicate these expectations to their agents, subcontractors, suppliers, representatives, and employees that assist them in meeting their obligations to Southern Company (“Company”).

Kerr would not even acknowledge that Balch & Bingham had engaged in alleged racism when they allegedly discouraged, suppressed poor African-Americans from having their toxic and contaminated property tested by the EPA in North Birmingham. The area is 92.5 percent Black.

Kerr was not being honest to himself nor us. We were stunned and told him so.

“…Should [Balch & Bingham]  have the right to suppress African-Americans? You think that’s okay? I’m asking you point blank, do you think it’s okay? Do you find it morally repugnant or not Jim? Come on take a stand!”

Worse than Kerr’s lack of accepting reality (his exact words were he did not “accept” our “proposition”) is the fact that their supplier, contractor, “vendor,”  Balch & Bingham appears to have not conducted themselves with “honesty, integrity, fairness” or even with a shred of “legal compliance” not only in the North Birmingham scheme, in which two Balch partners were indicted, but in the Burt Newsome Conspiracy Case, and the Vincent, Alabama alleged “whites-only” land grab.

With well over a quarter of a million people viewing our Facebook posts, and thousands of reactions this past week, the storm against Southern Company is almost at a point of no return.

Will Fanning reverse course and show honorable leadership or will he foolishly defend the indefensible?

Come on Tom, take a stand!