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Man walking for literacy passes through Clanton

Published 4:35pm Friday, June 15, 2012

If you see someone walking down Highway 31 on Saturday, he would like you to think for a moment about the number of people in Alabama that are illiterate.

If you think 15 percent of the state’s population not being able to read is unacceptable, Artis Murphy would like for you to join his cause.

Murphy is walking through Clanton on his way from Birmingham to Montgomery, where he hopes a rally will further his efforts of making reducing illiteracy a priority for state and national leaders.

“I started this walk to bring attention to it, to raise awareness of it,” Murphy said. “We have got to do better than this as a state.”

Murphy, of Birmingham, said he thinks literacy is the most basic tool needed for someone to improve his or her situation in life.

“We’ve been taught for so long that education is the foundation, but literacy is the foundation for education,” Murphy said. “The education process doesn’t start if you can’t read.”

Murphy said he thinks there is a correlation between illiteracy rates and crime, along with other societal ills.

Murphy, 49, has a goal to build his walk into an annual event in the state.

“I would like to see every city have a Literacy Walk day,” he said.

He has walked from Birmingham to Montgomery along Highway 31 for eight years. He started at Ingram Park at noon on Monday and plans to end at the state capitol, about 100 miles south, about 9 a.m. on June 19.

Murphy got into Clanton about 11 a.m. Friday. After staying overnight at a local hotel, he plans to depart Saturday morning. He encouraged community members to come out and walk with him, if only for short distance, or meet him at the capitol.

“What kind of Alabama do we want for our kids? Do we want one that’s uneducated, unsafe and unproductive? If you don’t, I’d like for you to meet me at the capitol steps,” he said.

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