L TO R: Zack Carter; Bill Harrison; Gus Townes; Atty/Activist Faya Sanders; Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford; Bullock County Commissioner John McGowan; Chair of Greene County Alabama Health System John Zippert; Former Slocumb Mayor and Executive Director of Alabama Conference of Black Mayors, Vickie Moore; Gail Townes. (photo 4-20-21 by Jacque Chandler – PICTURETHISMAGAZINE.COM)
The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy is holding a planning meeting in Selma on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at the Center for Non-Violence, Truth and Reconciliation, 8 Mulberry Road, Selma, AL 36703. The meeting which starts at 10:00 AM is an effort to pull together organizations from around the state to plan for the upcoming crucial elections in 2022 for statewide offices. SOS hopes to develop a strategy similar to the successful work in the neighboring state of Georgia for voter registration, education, combating voter suppression and positively influencing the redistricting process in the state. All SOS member organizations and other organizations who plan to work on the upcoming 2022 elections are invited. As part of this meeting, SOS plans an assessment of its membership and efforts to attract more participation and support. This includes an evaluation of the SOS agenda of fighting voter suppression, advocacy for Medicaid Expansion, criminal justice reform and fighting new prisons, worker’s rights, and other issues of concern to Black, Brown and poor people in Alabama. SOS will also discuss plans to participate in a statewide meeting in Shelby County, Alabama on Friday, June 25, 2021, the eight anniversary of the Shelby vs. Holder Supreme Court decision, which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The program for the day will be to advocate for support of Congressional action on HR 1 -For the People Act and HR-4 John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to counteract the national voter suppression efforts. SOS has also developed a youtube video, entitled “SOS to AL Gov: START Medicaid Expansion & STOP Police Escort of Strikebreakers at Union Coal mines”, which has excerpts of seven strong speeches at the SOS rally on April 20, 2021, in front of the Alabama State House in Montgomery. SOS has demonstrated on a regular basis for a year, at least once a month, sometimes every other week, to urge Governor Ivey and the Alabama State Legislature to adopt Medicaid expansion. The SOS video includes the following statements.
• Emcee: Johnny Ford, Former Mayor – and First Black Mayor – of Tuskegee, Co-Chair of SOS Health Committee: ‘We are here for the purpose of sending a clear message to Governor Kay Ivey, Medicaid Must Be Expanded in Alabama Now! People are dying more so than ever before because of the Covid 19 Pandemic …those 300,000 plus who now do not now have health care…if they had Medicaid, they would have insurance and perhaps their lives would be saved. There is absolutely no excuse, no reason to not expand Medicaid because the funds are now available!
• 1st Speaker, John Zippert, Co-Chair of SOS Health Committee: “ I am also Chair of the Greene County Alabama Health System where 40% of those served have no health insurance!…The State of Alabama is eligible to receive $940 million in incentive payments over two years, if it expands Medicaid to serve people making up to 138% of poverty wages, under provisions of the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11. (See also Greene County Democrat April, 22, 2021 – one of many John Zippert’s detailed articles analyzing Medicaid Expansion )
• 2nd Speaker, Alabama Bullock County Commissioner John McGowan: ” I can’t see how any elected official in the State of Alabama wouldn’t care about the health and welfare of Alabama ! It’s been stated the money is available ! It is a simple solution …lives are the most important thing, and our economy will benefit. Gov. Ivey let’s get this bill passed.!
• 3rd Speaker, Vickie Moore, Executive Director of Alabama Conference of Black Mayors: ‘Caring for others is an expression of what it means to be fully human! So today we are asking Gov Ivey to Expand Medicaid and improve the lives of 300,000 who are on low income…13 hospitals have closed in the last 8 years in Alabama, they spend 500 million a year for their uninsured patients, without Medicaid Expansion more hospitals will close.’
• 4th Speaker, Civil Rights Atty Activist Faya Rose Sanders, Chair of SOS Direct Action Committee: ‘I want to use this opportunity to thank our people in elected positions because we have so many people in elected positions who do not use their positions to fight for the people. And I want to thank each and every one of you…And a part of that bill that was just passed, 800,000 more people are now receiving insurance. And if a president can do it in Washington, there’s no reason why a governor in Alabama can’t do it.’
• 5th Speaker, Zack Carter, Former President of Shipbuilders Local 18 in Mobile, and Co-Chair of SOS Justice Committee: ‘Last night John Zippert and I were at a rally for 1100 Alabama Coal Miners who are on strike. [See: https://umwa.org/support-umwa-miners-on-strike-at-warrior-met/ — with riveting videos of the mineworkers and family showing their struggle for justice in their workplace, is a struggle for all of us ! ].
The President of the Alabama AFL- CIO and the National President of the United Mine Workers of America UMWA assured us of their support for Medicaid Expansion. And this is only natural, in the 1960’s Labor support was key for Medicare and Medicaid, in the 1930’s when Labor allied with progressives, their crowning social justice jewel was Social Security…and in the 1930’s. John L Lewis, out of the UMWA, was a key founder of the CIO — the first union on a national scale to organize all workers into one union — black, white, men, women, skilled, and unskilled. And Lewis was already organizing a multi-racial UMWA in Alabama in the 1920’s… Gov Ivey, you claimed you can’t find the money for Medicaid Expansion, but you sure didn’t look long to find the money to pay AL State troopers to escort strikebreakers into the UMWA mines, strikebreakers in yellow school buses, getting paid 12 bucks and hour with no training in the deepest and most dangerous mines in the US.’ • 6th Speaker, Bill Harrison, active SOS member for many years, 1970’s Civil Rights leader in Choctaw County; There are many reasons why the Governor should sign Medicaid Expansion: 8 to 10 counties in Alabama that do not even have a hospital; it would create jobs; the infant mortality rate would go down…And a lot of people would be more healthy. About a year ago, my niece [audience: “ Tell the Story!”] in Butler, Alabama, which they do not have a hospital, they say there is one but there is not one there. And when my niece got the virus, she had to go to Meridian, Mississippi — many of these hospitals do not have the resources and equipment to treat people properly – they put my niece on a ventilator on Monday and she died on Tuesday. If you have difficulty downloading the youtube video contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about joining and supporting SOS, contact them at: 838 South Court Street, Montgomery, AL 36104; or call 205/262-0932.