Alabama Civil Rights Museum presents Black History program

Circuit Judge John England, Jr., receives Certificate of Appreciation from Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement. Shown L to R; Lorenzo French Judge England, Spiver Gordon, Fred Daniels and Rev. James Carter.
LaVondia B. Smith, Artistic Director of Nathifa African Dance Company, leads a performance at Black History Program

The Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement of Greene County presented a program honoring Black History on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Eutaw Activity Center.
The theme of the meeting was “Voting because a Voteless People is a Hopeless People” and most of the speakers highlighted these thoughts in their comments.
Circuit Judge John England of Tuscaloosa was the keynote speaker. Earlier in his legal career he served as County Attorney for Greene County. He also was one of the first Black City Council members in Tuscaloosa and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama.
Judge England spoke to some legal cases he was involved in relating to Greene County, after Black voters attained political control, which showed the continuing struggle for voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“I have learned a lot of Black History working with Greene County over the years,” said England. He cited his legal defense of Spiver W. Gordon and Frederick Douglass Daniels in the 1985 absentee balloting cases. He was also involved with the defense of Albert Turner, Evelyn Turner and Spencer Hogue in a similar absentee ballot case in Perry County, which was initiated by Jeff Sessions, when he was U. S. Attorney in Mobile.
The Greene County absentee ballot case led to a case against the government for striking all Black members from the jury. England also reviewed cases involving blocking Richard Osborne from serving as Greene County District Judge because of a juvenile conviction for stealing a $50 hub-cap. Osborne was eventually seated after a case against Ralph Banks II who was awarded the seat because he came in second, which England challenged in court and had overturned.
England reviewed his work in a case, which allowed the local legislative delegation to name the Greene County Racing Commission rather than the Governor. This happened after the 1986 elections after which Blacks were elected to the state legislative seats representing Greene County. England reviewed these cases and others to show that Black history must include a continuing vigilance for efforts to disenfranchise and dilute the votes of Black people, especially in places like Greene County and the Alabama Black Belt where Black people have used the ballot to win political power.
“There is a continuing effort to limit the power of Black voters in Alabama through voter ID laws, changing polling places, purging voter rolls and other strategies which we must be aware of and challenge,” said England.
He concluded by saying, “No matter how hard and high the odds are stacked against you – you can still succeed and win if you have faith in God and each other that truth and justice will prevail. AS the song says – We have come too far to turn back now!”
As part of the program, the Nathifa African Dance Company of Birmingham gave a thrilling performance of drumming and African dance.
The Greene County Community Choir sang and participated by offering Gospel musical selections. They also sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, the African-American national anthem together with the audience.
Local candidates in the upcoming March 3 primary election were introduced and allowed to make short remarks.

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