Greene County celebrates 53rd Freedom Day

Greene County will hold its 53rd Freedom Day Celebration on Friday, July 29, 2022 at the Eutaw Activity Center on Harris Avenue in Eutaw, beginning at 4:00 p.m. This event commemorates the 1969 special election ordered by the U.S. Justice Department when the State of Alabama refused to put the slate of candidates representing the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA) on the state’s 1968 ballot.
In the 1960’s, various civil rights organizations had conducted successful voter education and registration campaigns throughout the county resulting in a high voter registration among the local 80% majorityBlack population.
The results of the 1968 special election and the subsequent 1970 state election gave Greene County its sweeping victory of countywide Black elected officials including board of education members (who hired the first Black school superintendent), county commissioners, sheriff, probate judge, tax collector, circuit clerk and coroner. The first Black tax collector was elected in 1978. Greene County is noted as the first county in the nation to elect all Black county officials.
Dr. Richard Arrington, first Black Mayor of Birmingham, will be the keynote speaker. The Freedom Day event, sponsored by the Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement, Inc., will include food, music, and praise. The community is invited including all local elected officials.
The first Greene County Black elected officials roster is as follows: In 1966, Rev. Peter J. Kirksey – first Black school board member and Rev. W.D. Lewis, first Black elected to Greene County Democratic Executive Committee; in 1969 (special election) first Black Commissioners – Rev. Vassie Knott, Mr. Harry Means, Mr. Franchie Burton, and Mr. Levi Morrow, Sr., additional Black school board members, Mr. James Posey and Mr. Robert Hines; in 1970 Rev. William M. Branch, first Black Probate Judge, Rev. Thomas Gilmore, first Black Sheriff, Deacon John Head and Mr. Earsrie Chambers elected to the Board of Education; Mrs. Wadine Williams, first Black Circuit Clerk; Mr. Robert Cook, first Black Tax Collector; Rev. Harold Milton, first Black Coroner; in1978, Rev. John Kennard elected as first Black Tax Assessor.

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