Greene County schools postpone all extra-curricular activities

The Greene County Board of Education held an emergency meeting Tuesday, July 28, 2020 to take action on the superintendent’s recommendation regarding extra-curricular activities for the 2020-2021 school year.
Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones explained that the school system has already determined a three-phase opening for the coming school term and in efforts to keep the students, school personnel and community safe, the Greene County School System will operate its first phase virtually for the first nine weeks.
According to Jones, if it is unsafe to bring students together for classes, it is unsafe for students, faculty and others to gather for any extra-curricular activities, including football, cheerleading, dance, etc. He stated that as we progress through the school term, we will reassess the health condition of the local community and do what we must for the safety of all

Greene County High School holds outdoor graduation for Class of 2020

The GCHS Class of 2020 held its graduation ceremony out-of-doors, Friday, July 24, 2020, to insure the safety of all participants. The graduates were seated a safe distance apart in the stadium at Robert Brown Middle School. Parents and guests were also seated socially distanced on the football field. All wore masks.
Parents and guest at graduation ceremony were seated
observing social distancing. Everyone wore masks.
Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones welcomes parents and community to GCHS graduation ceremony. Also shown are GCHS Principal Willie Simmons and Assistant Principal Andrea Perry.
Elouise Edwards, GCHS Valedictorian Class of 2020
Ashanti Harper, GCHS Salutatorian Class of 2020

Nine more arrested at Tuesday’s SOS protest for Medicaid Expansion at State Capitol in Montgomery

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) held its bi-weekly protest on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama to call for Governor Kay Ivey to expand Medicaid; for state and federal officials to intensify their response to the coronavirus, especially by increasing testing, contact tracing and support for the Alabama Black Belt counties, and Black, Brown and poor communities, who are dying from the virus at disproportionately higher rates; releasing non-violent detainees from jails and prisons to reduce the spread of coronavirus and other concerns.

Nine people were arrested by the City of Montgomery Police when they began painting “Good Trouble” and “Expand Medicaid” over the light gray paint that the City had painted over “Black Lives Matter” and “Expand Medicaid” written by SOS protestors in a similar demonstration on July 16, 2020.
Fewer than half of those individuals were actually painting – or attempting to paint. Several were arrested for simply standing on the gray painted pavement in front of the Capitol that does not block any traffic. The police closed in and started making arrests before the protestors could complete writing full words.
The SOS protest yesterday, July 28, 2020, was also directed at the Mayor, Police Chief and staff of the City of Montgomery Police Department for their humiliating treatment of five SOS and Black Lives Matter activists who turned themselves in to the police on Monday, July 20, 2020. The two women were strip searched and all were required to dress in jail jumpsuits and were placed in holding cells. During their five hours in custody, they were exposed to the coronavirus by jailers and detainees, who were not wearing masks
The nine who were detained at Tuesday’s protest were SOS leaders and members as well as some supporters from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Poor People’s Campaign for a Moral Revival. The nine arrested were: Hank Sanders, Selma attorney and former Alabama State Senator, Faya Rose Toure (Sanders), his wife and civil rights attorney, Martha Morgan, retired University of Alabama law professor, Queen Tate, Yomi Goodall and Judson Garner, SOS members; Ellen Degnan and Danna Sweeny with SPLC, and Stephanie Bernal-Martinez with the Poor People’s Campaign.
All who were arrested on Tuesday, were released in a span of two hours on their own recognizance. One White male was made to strip down to his underwear and put on a prison jumpsuit. No-one in custody was strip searched this time. At press time it is not clear what charges will be brought against the nine who were arrested.
The five SOS and BLM activists, Karen Jones, Faya Rose Toure, Johnny Ford, John Zippert, and Kamasi Amin (Juan McFarland II ) were charged with “defacing public property”, a misdemeanor, for the early incident of writing in the street. They have been assigned a September 21st court date.
Attorney, Civil Rights Activist and former Municipal Judge Faya Rose Toure, who was the only person arrested at both protests, said: “My arrest and jailing on Monday was the most humiliating experience of my life. I have been arrested multiple times in various cities in this state and country over more than five decades in civil disobedience protests in the fight for human rights, but never was I strip searched and never was I exposed to danger like I was in Montgomery in the city jail.
“The five of us all wore masks, but none of the other inmates with whom we were held wore masks not nor did all of the jail employees. This is dangerous not only for us but also for our families and all those with whom we come in contact. In addition to being embarrassing and dangerous, it was also hurtful to me because I was almost arrested in Montgomery last year for passing out voting materials during the campaign in which Steven Reed was elected Mayor. But I intend to keep fighting for human rights. I intend to keep fighting to expand Medicaid. I intend to keep fighting to save lives in Alabama.”
“Former Tuskegee Mayor and State Representative Johnny Ford said: “We have been fighting for the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama year after year after year. Alabama must expand Medicaid to save lives in Alabama. Expanding Medicaid would save the lives of an estimated 700 Alabamians per year – and that is before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.”
Several parents of children murdered while in the custody of the City of Montgomery Police and Jail voiced their complaints about the injustices of the city’s jail and justice system. The parents of Steven Matthew Seal and Tony Lewis Jr. gave testimonies about the unfair treatment of their children.
Persons interested in joining or supporting SOS in future demonstration may contact SOS through their website, Facebook page or by writing: SOS Survival Fund, 838 So. Court Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36104; phone: 334-262-0932.

Rodney Wesley is a candidate for Eutaw City Council District 5

I am Rodney Wesley and I have been teaching and coaching for 25 years and now I want to do something that is just as important to me. This is another way to give back to my community as a public service. I feel that I know a lot about this community but there is so much more to learn. I think it’s my time and opportunity to step up and take my next Leadership Role as a Eutaw City Council Person. I am seeking District 5 Council Position.
I am a graduate of Eutaw High School, where I played football under Coach James E. Morrow and Coach Cleveland Austin. I attended the University of Alabama and earned a BS Degree and played basketball under Coach Wimp Sanderson.
I am a native of Greene County and following my college graduation I returned home to work in our school system. I have a special dedication to helping our youth prepare themselves to be the best that they can be. One of my goals is to restore and bring more recreational activities for our youth and elderly.
I will also strive to build a strong relationship with citizens within our city, as well as outside of Eutaw. I will work and walk along with everyone to make Eutaw a Great Place to Live.
My wife is Yvonne Wesley and I have six children. My parents are Hattie Wesley and Artie Atkins. I am a member of New Peace Missionary Baptist Church.
I am asking for your support and your vote on August 25 as your Eutaw City Councilperson District 5.

Newswire: U.S. Postal Service to review stamp honoring Supremes Florence Ballard

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

Original Supremes, with Florence Ballard


Supremes legend Mary Wilson is on a crusade that she hopes will end with the United States Postal Service commemorating her late bandmate and close friend Florence Ballard on a Forever Stamp.
“I get so emotional when I speak about Flo,” said Wilson, who received a 2020 NNPA Lifetime Achievement Award during the Black Press of America’s recently completed virtual convention.
“I’ve been working hard to get that recognition for her because she deserves it.”
Wilson noted that the U.S. Postal Service has done a brilliant job of issuing commemorative postage stamps about iconic pop culture heroes who have helped shape the world.
In the past, there have been U.S. Postage Stamps to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of several music business legends, including Elvis Presley, Sarah Vaughn, Patsy Cline, Jimi Hendryx, Marvin Gaye, and Janis Joplin.
Wilson’s quest to get the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp to celebrate Ballard, a founding star of The Supremes, has gained momentum.
“We have received a proposal from the public, and it will be reviewed at our next Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee meeting,” Roy Betts, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, told BlackPressUSA.
The U.S. Postal Service and the members of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) have set specific criteria used in determining the eligibility of subjects for commemoration on all U.S. stamps and stationery, Betts added.
Among them are that stamps and stationery would primarily feature American or American-related subjects. The Postal Service will honor extraordinary and enduring contributions to American society, history, culture, or environment.
U.S. stamp programs are planned and developed two to three years in advance and, consideration would occur if suggestions are submitted three or more years in advance of the proposed stamp.
In 2018, the Postal Service began considering proposals for deceased individuals three years following their death.
Officials noted that the stamp program commemorates positive contributions to American life, history, culture, and environment.
Born in Detroit in 1943, Ballard was the eighth of Jesse and Lurlee Ballard’s thirteen children.
Almost from the start, music played an essential part in her life, according to her biography.
Her father was her first teacher, and a young Ballard displayed a keen interest in his music. Jesse Ballard would play particular songs and teach his daughter to sing them.
Those early lessons made a deep impression, and legend has it that Florence Ballard was soon out-singing her father.Ballard’s musical gift was hard to go unnoticed. As she grew older, she found an outlet for her singing in school music classes and choirs.
While in her early teens, Ballard’s career was set in motion.
Two of her neighbors, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, sang in a group called the Primes (later to become the Temptations). They introduced her to manager Milton Jenkins, who was so impressed with the 14-year-old’s voice that he asked her to perform as a soloist along with the Primes. After Ballard appeared with the group for a few engagements, Jenkins knew he had found an outstanding talent, her biography read.
Since groups were popular in the late 1950s, Jenkins suggested that Ballard form a sister group to the Primes. Immediately she asked her friend, Mary Wilson, to be a member of the group. Betty McGlown and Mary’s friend, Diana Ross, were also recruited. After gaining their parent’s permission, the four teenagers, in the spring of 1959, became officially known as the Primettes. They began rehearsals with Ballard as the lead singer.
McGlown departed just before the group found fame at Motown with the name, The Supremes. Ballard died in 1976 at the age of 31. “The memories are so vivid,” Wilson said. “Florence Ballard was such a wonderful person. It’s my sincere hope that we can get the Postal Service to honor her now.”

Newswire: West African leaders rush to save President of Mali from expulsion

Mali opposition leader M. Dicko

July 27, 2020 (GIN) – Presidents from five West African countries are stepping up efforts to end a crisis in Mali which threatens to topple the President of that troubled country.
The five regional leaders, Malian government officials and members of the opposition were meeting since the previous week following a month of street protests by tens of thousands of Malians that sparked clashes with police in which the United Nations says at least 14 protesters died.
Malians are said to be furious over government foot dragging on entrenched corruption, disputed local election results and army losses to jihadists.
Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger and current chair of ECOWAS, a 15-member regional, political and economic union, pledged that strong measures were being planned to resolve the crisis.
The opposition, called M5-RFP and headed by Mahmoud Dicko, a Muslim cleric, warned that protests would continue until Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita stepped down. After a final meeting late last Thursday, Dicko told journalists there had been no progress, and nothing had been offered at the moment that was acceptable to them.
“M5-RFP demands the resignation of Keita or the satisfaction of our demands,” which include the establishment of a committee of inquiry into civilian deaths and a transitional government, the group’s spokesman Nouhoum Togo told Reuters news service.
Niger’s Issoufou rejected the call for President Keita’s resignation. “There will be no unconstitutional change of power in the ECOWAS region,” Issoufou declared.
This won’t be the first time that ECOWAS has intervened to settle problems in Mali. A coup by disgruntled military over the management of the Tuareg rebellion in 2012 and raging inter-ethnic conflicts, predominantly pitting the Fulani against the Dogon communities, brought harsh sanctions by ECOWAS leaders.
According to Human Rights Watch, Mali’s human rights situation deteriorated in 2019 as hundreds of civilians were killed in numerous attacks by armed Islamists in northern and central parts of the county allied to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The Islamists targeted Malian security services, peacekeepers, international forces, and increasingly, civilians.
Malian security forces, in counterterrorism operations, also subjected numerous suspects to severe mistreatment and several died in custody or were forcibly disappeared.
A U.N. force, called MINUSMA, established by the U.N. Security Council in 2013, continues to work in the country with a total of more than 15,000 personnel and 15,209 military personnel, police and others.

Newswire: Rep. Sewell Calls on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up and pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020

Headshot of Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by unanimous consent House Concurrent Resolution 107 to rename H.R. 4 the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), who introduced and shepherded H.R. 4 through the House of Representatives last year, praised the decision to rename the legislation for her late colleague, mentor and friend.
“There is no better way to honor Congressman Lewis’ legacy than to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 so that every American – regardless of color – is able to make their voice heard at the ballot box. It is fitting that the House moved today to rename H.R. 4 in John’s name,” Sewell said. “The bill has been languishing in Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard for 234 days. McConnell has taken to the floor to honor John, but the most significant thing he can do is to bring up the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020 for a vote. Now is the time for action to honor John’s legacy!”
The Supreme Courts’ 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlined the qualifications needed to determine which states are required by the Justice Department to pre-clear elections changes in states with a history of voter discrimination.
Since the Shelby decision, nearly two-dozen states have implemented restrictive voter ID laws and previously-covered states have closed or consolidated polling places, shortened early voting and imposed other measures that restrict voting.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020 seeks to restore the VRA by developing a process to determine which states must pre-clear election changes with the Department of Justice. It will also require a nationwide, practice-based pre-clearance of known discriminatory practices, including the creation of at-large districts, inadequate multilingual voting materials, cuts to polling places, changes that reduce the days or hours of in person voting on Sundays during the early voting period and changes to the maintenance of voter registration lists that adds a basis or institutes a new process for removal from the lists, where the jurisdiction includes racial or language minority populations above a certain percent threshold.
Under the legislation, there are three ways to become a covered jurisdiction that is required to pre-clear election changes:
States with a history of 15 or more violations at any level in the previous 25 years; or
States with a history of 10 or more violations, if one violation occurs at the state level in the previous 25 years; or
Political subdivisions or localities with 3 or more violations in that subdivision in the previous 25 years.
The bill is supported by more than 60 national organizations, including the NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, NALEO Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Native American Rights Fund, League of Women Voters of the United States, AAUW, ACLU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Communications Workers of America, SEIU, UAW, Democracy 21, Democracy Initiative, End Citizens United Action Fund, Sierra Club, and League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

Newswire: NNPA teams with Magic Johnson to fund over $100 Million in PPP loans for Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

Benjamin Chavis and Magic Johnson

July 25, 2020 (Washington, DC) — Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) announced today that he and the NNPA have agreed to assist the efforts of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, majority owner of EquiTrust, the nation’s largest minority-owned insurance company, and MBE Capital Partners (MBECP), the largest certified minority-owned asset-based lender, in funding over $100 million in PPP loans.
EquiTrust, MBECP and the NNPA together today are focused on informing and encouraging minority- and women-owned businesses throughout the United States to take advantage of the current PPP loan opportunities for businesses in underserved communities.
Dr. Chavis emphasized, “I have the highest regard and respect for the entrepreneurial leadership and courage of Earvin Magic Johnson. The NNPA, therefore, is enthusiastic and pleased to assist Johnson’s EquiTrust and with MBE Capital to enhance the economic recovery of African American and other minority owned businesses amidst the devastating COVID-19 pandemic in America. Our businesses are the lifeblood of our communities.”
Johnson’s EquiTrust is providing critical financial support to underserved communities and businesses that have been traditionally neglected. These small and diverse businesses often have difficulty developing strong lending relationships with big banks. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, up to 90% of businesses owned by people of color have been, or will likely be, shut out of the PPP program.
MBE Capital is perfectly positioned to help small and diverse businesses take advantage of this latest round of PPP funding; and the company is an approved SBA lender with over 20 years of experience serving diverse and minority businesses. They can process up to 5,000 loans per day, utilizing end-to-end online technology to accept, underwrite and transmit the applications to the SBA. MBE Capital has already processed over $300,000,000 in PPP loans — including the EquiTrust partnership funding $100,000,000.
The NNPA is the nation’s largest trade association of African American-owned newspapers and media businesses that reach 22.4 million readers per week across the nation.
MBECP has also partnered with The Enterprise Center (TEC), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), providing them with technology and resources to help them process over $100,000,000 in PPP loans. This will allow TEC’s CDFI to process more SBA loans in two weeks then they have in the last 10 years.
By working with Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s EquiTrust, MBECP’s pipeline is over $500,000,000. MBE Capital is committed to providing vital funding for small businesses in underserved communities. With almost $100 billion left in the second round of PPP funding, it is imperative that vulnerable small businesses are able to secure resources needed to sustain themselves.
According to Rafael Martinez, CEO of MBE Capital: “I contacted EquiTrust, to be an additional strategic partner because I know that EquiTrust believes in changing outcomes for underserved communities the way I do. The team at EquiTrust and my direct contact Kenyatta Matheny were incredible, and we put this deal together from first call to contracts in a week.” He added: “After receiving hundreds of emails and calls from applicants asking if they can receive their PPP loans as soon as possible because this was a last hope to stay open – and in some cases to keep food on the tables of their employees – I was moved to expand this and look to fund over 20,000 PPP loans for minority companies.”
“This is a unique SBA-backed opportunity to use the vast resources of EquiTrust’s to prudently provide real and much needed cash to deserving minority and women-owned businesses that find it difficult to secure such funding through traditional means,” said Eric Holoman, President and Chief Executive Officer of EquiTrust. “The jobs saved will make a significant difference to their families and communities. Equitrust is excited to partner with Rafael Martinez and MBECP to do this and more as we try to level the playing field for businesses that are the backbone of America.”

APPLY FOR A PPP LOAN TODAY OR LEARN MORE: https://mbeppp.com/go/nnpa/ Loan Referral Code: NNPA

Newswire: John Lewis makes final crossing over Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma

By Eric Velasco, The Washington Post

John Lewis casket crosses Selma bridge for last time
Congressman John Lewis casket

Fifty-five years ago, Alabama state troopers beat John Lewis and hundreds of protesters as they crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge. On Sunday, troopers saluted the late civil rights leader after he made his final journey across the span.
The body of the 17-term congressman was carried on a horse-drawn caisson from Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church to the bridge, where rose petals had been scattered. Two horses and a driver led the flag-draped casket, which paused a few minutes on the bridge above the Alabama River. On the other side, the words of “We Shall Overcome” could be heard as family, hundreds of onlookers and several troopers greeted Lewis.
A military honor guard moved the casket from the caisson to a hearse for the trip to Montgomery. Alabama state police were accompanying Lewis to the state capital.
“It is poetic justice that this time Alabama state troopers will see John to his safety,” Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.) said.
The ceremony is the second day in six days of tributes to the son of sharecroppers, fighter for civil rights and lawmaker widely hailed as the conscience of Congress. Lewis (D-Ga.) died July 17 at the age of 80 after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
The honors began Saturday in Lewis’s birthplace of Troy, Ala., with prayers, family recollections, songs and a plea to carry on his legacy of fighting for a more just society. It will end Thursday with a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.
In between, Lewis will lie in state in two state capitols — Montgomery and Atlanta — and in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, where the nation has paid tribute to past presidents, lawmakers and other distinguished citizens, including civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in 2005.
Lewis’s crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge 55 years ago was a defining moment for a nation and the young activist. The ceremony on Sunday comes amid a national reckoning over systemic racism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, a black man, and weeks of protests nationwide.
On March 7, 1965, Lewis, then the 25-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, led about 600 protesters in a march across the bridge for civil rights. State troopers beat the demonstrators, and Lewis suffered a cracked skull on what became known as Bloody Sunday.
“I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick,” Lewis said decades later. “I really believe to this day that I saw death.”
Within months, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which was meant to end the obstacles preventing black people from voting.
John Lewis nearly died on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Now it may be renamed for him.
In subsequent years, Lewis has led an annual march of Republicans and Democrats, current and former presidents across the bridge. Most notably, in 2015 on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, he walked across the span with the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama; former president George W. Bush; and many of the foot soldiers of the 1960s movement.
“We just need to open our eyes and our ears and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us,” Obama said. “We know the march is not yet over; we know the race is not yet won. We know reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much.”
In the days after Lewis’s death, there have been renewed calls for Congress to act on voting rights and name the legislation in Lewis’s honor. In 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a crucial component of the landmark law, ruling that Congress had not taken into account the nation’s racial progress when citing certain states for federal oversight.
The House passed legislation in December to restore those protections, but the bill has languished in the GOP-led Senate.
There also have been calls to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge for Lewis. Pettus was a Confederate officer and a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
At the service at Troy University on Saturday, Lewis’s flag-draped casket was carried by men in masks, and attendees were seated six feet apart, a reminder that the country is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 150,000 Americans, a disproportionate number from low-income, minority communities.
Lewis’s brother Freddie Lewis implored people to continue his legacy by voting. His sister Rosa Mae Tyner recalled that he “lived with the never-ending desire to help others.” Another brother, Henry “Grant” Lewis, said Lewis “would gravitate toward the least of us.”
The late congressman’s young great-nephew, Jaxon Lewis Brewster, called Lewis his “hero.” “It’s up to us to keep his legacy alive,” the 7-year-old said.
Henry Grant Lewis recalled his last conversation with his brother the night before he died. Lewis was, as always, concerned about others, asking how the family was doing and wanting his brother to tell them he’d asked about them.
Henry Grant Lewis also shared an exchange he’d had with his brother when he was first sworn in to Congress. The new lawmaker looked up at his family watching from the gallery above the House floor and flashed his brother a thumbs up. Afterward, Henry Grant Lewis asked his brother what he was thinking when he made that gesture. “I was thinking,” he recalled his brother saying, “this is a long way from the cotton fields of Alabama.”