The beautiful Antebellum Azalea Trail Maids are a group of fifty high school seniors chosen yearly to serve as "Official Ambassadors" for the city of Mobile, Alabama.
I know theses photo's are late but I'm clearing my camera of photo's and this post is one of many I have not had time to post. The Summer is going by so fast Labor day will be here very soon. The photo's were taken Sep 6, 2010. One way to truly celebrate Labor Day in Historic Mobile, Alabama is by attending the Southwest Alabama Labor Council's Labor Day parade, honoring all working Americans in Alabama and nationwide. This annual parade attracts union workers, their families and community members from all over Alabama.
The parade starts at 10;00 am at the Mobile Civic Center (mobilecivicctr.com), wraps through downtown Mobile and ends back at the Mobile Civic Center. Over 20 union groups and family members, high school marching bands, cheerleaders and other community members throw candy, goodies and paper products giving this annual parade the nick name "paper parade."
The Maids, wearing extravagant antebellum-style dresses and using mannerisms of the era, make appearances at many local, state, and national events.
They often serve as greeters when foreigners and dignitaries visit the city, and are required to be knowledgeable about the city landmarks and history. The Maids are meant to embody the ideals of "Southern hospitality", and appeared at the inauguration of United States President Barack Obama.
Controversy erupted in January 2009, after the group was invited by the inauguration committee of Barack Obama to represent Alabama in the inaugural parade. The president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, Edward Vaughn, made the statements that another group should represent Alabama in the parade to better reflect the history of the state, that the antebellum-style costumes that the Maids wear are a reminder of the slave era, and that the group would be a “laughingstock.” Advocates of the Maids defended the organization, citing that the dresses are also meant to represent azalea blossoms and that the group is racially diverse. Following Vaughn's comments Sam Jones, the first African American mayor of Mobile, issued a written statement:
The Azalea Trail girls represent the beauty of Mobile. After all, we are the Azalea city. We are extremely proud of their participation in President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration and can think of no better group that represents the character and diversity of our city to showcase at this historic event. As it relates to diversity, we would compare Mobile with any city in the state of Alabama. We are a diverse city representing people from all segments and walks of life. These girls epitomize that, and they are excellent ambassadors for Mobile.
The Mobile County Commission gave $10,000 to help fund the Maids' trips to the inauguration. Vaughn later apologized for calling the group a laughingstock, but continued to express his view that an additional group from Alabama representing the civil rights movement should march with the Maids for the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States. A segment concerning the controversy was filmed for NBC's Today show, but never aired because of other news coverage. The Maids participated in the parade on January 20, 2009.
Marching bands and cheerleaders who had the day off from high school were in the parade to keep the happy spirit going with good music and dancing.