The 45th Black Belt Folk Roots Festival goes virtual

By: Carol P. Zippert
Festival Coordinator

The 45th annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival did not go unclaimed, and undocumented. There was no magnificent tent shielding a stage of body and soul stirring musicians playing to hundreds not minding the August heat and drenching humidity. There was not the aroma of the famous Bear Burgers and Chicago Style Polish sausages sizzling on the grill, or the inviting scent of barbecue on the pit. One could not be drawn to the popping sounds of chicken wings and fish or pork skins in pots of hot oil. One could not taste the cooling refreshment of homemade ice cream or myriad flavors of snow cones and Italian Ice. Still, the annual festival did not go unclaimed and undocumented.
The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival went virtual on its 45th anniversary. A special website was designed to capture the usual ole timey blues and gospel sounds of the festival. The link highlights longtime bluesmen and bands such as Clarence Davis, Lil’Lee and the Midnight Blues Band, Jock Webb, Terry ‘Harmonica’ Bean, Jontavious Willis, Russell Gulley, Michael Carpenter and the Roadhouse Blues Band, Willie Halbert and the Fingerprint Band and more.
The ole timey gospel groups noted included Son of Zion, The American Travelers, The Mississippi Traveling Stars, The Golden Gates, The Melody Kings of Starkville, Eddie Mae Brown, Glory to Glory Gospel Singers and more.

One could not finger the fine stitching of the traditional hand crafted quilts and baskets or the intricate designs of hand crafted jewelry, but the authentic photos on the website portray the loving and painstaking care of the folk artists.
The young people did engage in a hands on arts festival experience. The special Zoom link allowed them to follow the guide of local artist Mynecia (Mya) Steele, of Eutaw, in designing their own arts. The young participants were provided with the materials needed to create their projects in Zoom arts program, noted as the Kids Tent. Reportedly, the greatest joy for many young participants was seeing themselves on screen.
The festival’s website also carries a video of the Kids Tent, claiming and documenting the young people’s activities.
The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, produced by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture, did not go unclaimed and undocumented. The festival website will be continuous, featuring the folk artists of the West Alabama Region, celebrating history, culture and tradition through music, dance, crafts and foodways.
Festival website: blackbeltfolkrootsfestival.weebly.com. Tune in and join a celebration of community.
The major supporters of the virtual festival and the Kids Tent include Alabama Department of Tourism, the Black Belt Community Foundation, the Alabama Power Foundation, Greenetrack, Inc. and the TSP Support League, Inc.
If you would like to support our continuing work of producing the festival
contact
Carol Zippert at
205-372-0525 or email:
zippert.carol79@gmail.com

The 45th annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival goes Virtual

The 45th annual BlackBelt Folk Roots Festival, for the first time, will be a Virtual Celebration of folk artists who are the bearers of the culture and traditions of the West Alabama Region. According to Dr. Carol P. Zippert, festival coordinator, the coronavirus pandemic is the primary reason for presenting a virtual festival this year. “We could not jeopardize anyone with an on site community celebration,” she said.
“The annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is home coming time in the region. Many families, class reunions and social clubs plan their annual activities to coincide with the festival’s schedule,” stated Dr. Zippert. “The usual on-site festival brings together folk artists who are considered bearers of the traditions and folkways of the West Alabama region. Having a Virtual Festival is a statement of recognition and celebration of the local artists who are the bearers of our culture, traditions and folkways,” she explained.
The Virtual Festival will feature down home blues music, old timey gospel, traditional foods, handmade crafts and special events for the young people. Ole Timey Blues artists will include Clarence Davis, Jock Webb, Willie T. Adams, Ernest Martin, Jontavious Willis, Lil Lee and the Midnight Blues Band, Nigel Speights, Russell Gulley, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Roadhouse Blues Band, Willie Halbert and the Fingerprint Band, and others.
Music of the Ole Timey Gospel artists will include, The Melody Kings, The Mississippi Traveling Stars, The Golden Gates, Greene County Mass Choir, The American Travelers, Angels of Faith, Ms. Eddie Brown and many others.
The Virtual Festival will celebrate the craft artists, creators of hand made quilts; baskets from white oak, pine needles and corn shuck; jewelry, sundry of home decorative items, and more. The virtual site will also include information where viewers may contact those craft artists who have arrangements for online purchases.
The Virtual Web Site will also celebrate the artists who bring us the assortments of down-home foods usually available at the annual festival including soul food dinners, barbecue, fried fish, chicken and skins, Polish sausage, homemade ice cream, cakes and pies; snow cones, Italian ice, and more.
The Virtual Festival web site will be made available beginning August 22, 2020.
Virtual Kids Art Tent – A Zoom Experience
The Virtual Kids Tent will be presented via Zoom. Local artists Mynecia (Mya) Steele has designed various art activities and will the guide the young people in the hands-on creative projects. The youth participants who register in advance will be provided the art materials needed to participate in the Zoom classes. They may contact Maya at 205-393-8644 or email: myneciads@gmail.com; or contact Carol Zippert at 205-372-0525, email: zippert.carol79@gmail.com.
“This is a festival where people truly celebrate themselves – their joys and struggles and especially ‘how we made it over,’” Zippert stated. We intend to claim, lift, and share our treasures of community celebration through this very special Virtual Festival – the 45th Celebration of the Black Belt Folk Roots Festival.
The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is supported in part by the Alabama Department of Tourism, the Black Belt Community Foundation, Alabama Power Foundation; Greenetrack, Inc. and other local contributors.
The festival is produced by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture.
For more information contact Carol P. Zippert at 205-372-0525;
Email: zippert.carol79@gmail.com

Newswire : Obama gives passionate eulogy as John Lewis honored at funeral in MLK’s Atlanta church

President Obama speaks at John Lewis’ funeral

By Minyvonne Burke and Doha Madani, NBC News

Former president Barack Obama gave a searing eulogy for John Lewis, urging Americans to honor the legacy of a civil rights giant by engaging in the “good trouble” that leads to a more perfect democracy in the face of powerful institutions that seek to oppress.
Obama spoke from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church during the funeral for Lewis in Atlanta on Thursday, where he said he was there because he owed a debt to the 16-term congressman and his “forceful vision of freedom.” Obama, the country’s first Black president, remarked on the instructions given to Americans enshrined in the constitution to create a “more perfect union.”
“John never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country can do,” Obama said. “I mentioned in the statement the day John passed, the thing about John was just how gentle and humble he was. And despite this storied, remarkable career, he treated everyone with kindness and respect because it was innate to him. This idea that any of us can do what he did, if we’re willing to persevere.”
The former president spoke on the current threat to voting rights in America, a cause that Lewis nearly gave his life for as a young man, and the responsibility citizens have to continue to engage in the fight for equality.
“Bull Connor may be gone, but today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama said. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”
While some may criticize those who “dwell on” such injustices during Lewis’ funeral, Obama said they were the same attacks on American democracy that Lewis devoted his entire life to combating. Obama took aim at recent efforts to disenfranchise voters and called on leaders to honor Lewis by revitalizing and protecting voting rights.
“We may not have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting — by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws,” Obama continued.
“And attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”
Remembering a friend, lawmaker, warrior of peace
The private funeral began at 11 a.m. at the church that was once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We have come to say goodbye to our friend in these difficult days,” the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor, said. “Come on, let the nation celebrate, let the angels rejoice … John Lewis, the boy from Troy, the conscience of the Congress.”
Lewis, who represented Atlanta in the House of Representatives after serving as a young leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, died on July 17 following a monthslong battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80.
In addition to Obama’s eulogy, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke at the funeral that will conclude memorial services held for Lewis over six days in several cities. President Donald Trump did not attend the funeral.

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.”

Greenetrack charities distribute $67,500 to local non-profit groups

Shown L to R: Johnnie Knott, Woman to Woman Inc; Hodges Smith, Assoc. Volunteer Fire Department; Iris Sermon, E911 Communication Services –photo on file

The non-profit charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack in Eutaw, AL, E-911 Communication Services, the Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and Woman to Woman, Inc., provided charitable contributions, for the month of June, to a variety of local organizations, all benefitting Greene County residents.
According to Luther Winn, Greenetrack CEO, “By giving to the organizations directly, the charities are taking a progressive approach to assist the community in areas where the need is most apparent.”
Winn explained that the Greenetrack charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack are following the rules set forth by Sheriff Jonathan Benison but they have decided to provide the funds directly rather than through the Sheriff’s office.
A total of $67,500 dollars was divided and given to the following charities:
Greene County Board of Education ($13,500); Greene County Hospital ($7,500); Greene County Commission ($24,000); City of Eutaw ($4,500); City of Union ($3,000); City of Boligee ($3,000); City of Forkland ($3,000); and Greene County Ambulance Service ($9,000).
The following non-profit groups received $300: Greene County Nursing Home, SCORE, Greene County Golf Course, James C. Pool Memorial Library, Greene County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, PARA, Greene County Housing Authority Youth Involvement, Children’s Policy Council, Reach, Greene County DHR, Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Society of Folk Arts and Culture.

Newswire: Vigil and makes hit memorial near place where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 400 other civil rights organizations today called on congressional leadership to swiftly rectify the legacy of white supremacy and anti-black racism that has led to police violence against Black people across our country. The group requested a meeting with congressional leadership to discuss urgently needed reforms that ensure police officers live up to their oath to protect and serve all people in the United States.
“Now is the time for Congress to pass meaningful police reform legislation. While we appreciate hearings and resolutions, we need comprehensive measures to happen. We need Congress to truly step up to the plate and protect Black communities from the systemic perils of over policing, police brutality, misconduct, and harassment, and end the impunity in which officers operate in taking the lives of Black people. It is your moral and ethical duty to ensure Black people and communities are free from the harm and threats from law enforcement and to curtail state sanctioned police violence and militarized police responses,” the groups said in the letter.
The federal reforms addressed in the letter include:
Require a federal standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options, and incentivize states to implement this standard;
Require the use of de-escalation techniques, and the duty to intervene; ban the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who only verbally confront officers, or against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report all uses of force;
Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation;
• Prohibit racial profiling with robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated; • Eliminate federal programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement; • Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches • Change the 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242 mens rea requirement from willfulness to recklessness, permitting prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable for the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties; • Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies in the United States and its territories; and, • End the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law.
The Leadership Conference on Civill and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit http://www.civilrights.org.

Greene County Commission holds regular meeting; votes to require Sheriff Benison to meet financial commitments to retain staff

The Greene County Commission held its regular monthly meeting on May 11, 2020, at 3:00 PM in the Greene County courtroom. The Commissioners and audience maintained six feet social distancing requirements and most wore masks. Four commissioners: Allen Turner, Chairperson, Lester Brown, Roshonda Summerville, and Corey Cockrell, were present, with Tennyson Smith absent.
Most of the meeting, including a lengthy closed Executive Session, was devoted to the issue of getting Greene County Sheriff, Joe Benison, to meet his financial commitment to the county budget, to pay additional staff above the basic staff included in the budget for deputies, jailers and other staff.
The Sheriff and the County Commission negotiated an agreement at the beginning of the year, for the Sheriff to reimburse the County for additional staffing above the basic staff included in the regular budget. The Sheriff agreed to pay these additional staff, who are on the County payroll, out of funding he receives monthly in fees from electronic bingo operators.
For the past two months since the beginning of March, the electronic bingo establishments in Greene County have been closed due to the coronavirus and no bingo machine fees have been paid by bingo operators to governmental, educational, healthcare and other charitable recipients, including the Sheriff’s Department, which oversees bingo under local Constitutional Amendment 743.
After the Commission’s Executive Session, the members voted to contact Sheriff Benison to require payment of the funds due under the budgetary agreement or terminate the additional staff, who are listed in an attachment to the agreement.
The Commission further agreed that the Sheriff could substitute and amend the list of names of staff to be reduced, but not the number, based on current conditions.
Another topic discussed at the meeting was to consider a 4 mil increase in property taxes that could be approved locally without the action of the Legislature. This discussion arose because the prior proposed 5 mil increase in property taxes, which included 3 mils for the hospital and 2 mils for the County and other agencies, was not submitted by the Legislative delegation for approval.
State representatives A. J. McCampbell and Ralph Howard, as well as State Senator Bobby Singleton, said that since only three of Greene County’s five commissioners signed the 5 mil request, they would not submit the proposal to the Legislature’s local legislation committee. They say their policy is to only move forward with local legislation that is unanimously supported by all County Commissioners. Commissioners Tennyson Smith and Lester Brown did not sign the petition for the 5 mil increase.
If the 5 mil proposal had passed the Legislature it was still subject to a referendum by all voters in Greene County, probably at the November General Election.
Commission Chair Allen Turner said he learned that the County Commission may be able to support up to a four mil increase in property taxes, under special circumstances, without Legislative approval. The County Commission tabled this item, to seek more information to determine if this is a feasible route to generate more revenues and support for the hospital and other county agencies.
In other actions, the County Commission approved a financial report, payment of current bills and claims and a travel request for the Assistant Engineer to attend a June 10-11 training in Prattville, Alabama

Newswire : Little Richard, one of the most Influential Founding Fathers of Rock n’ Roll, dies at 87

Little Richard

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard, was one of the most influential singer songwriters in popular music. He was one of the founders of Rock n’ Roll in the 1950s and one of the most memorable performers in rock history. Little Richard was born in 1932 in Macon, Georgia.
“Tutti Frutti” (1955), one of Richard’s signature songs, became a hit reaching the No. 2 on the Billboard chart. Another hit, “Long Tall Sally” (1956), hit No. 1 on Billboard. “Tutti Frutti” was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010 and cited for its “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music”. Two of his songs,”Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” were listed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Little Richard’s music was covered by several artists thereafter and his influence included The Beatles, who opened for Little Richard as he toured Europe in 1962. He also advised Paul McCartney on his distinctive vocalizations. Little Richard influenced Otis Redding, James Brown, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Lennon and Cliff Richard and those influences frequently showed up in their music.
Legend has it that James Brown came up with the Famous Flames debut hit, “Please, Please, Please”, after Richard had written the words down on a napkin. Redding started his professional career with Little Richard’s band, The Upsetters. Bob Dylan performed covers of Little Richard’s songs on piano during a high school talent show with his rock and roll group, the Golden Chords. In 1959, Dylan wrote in his yearbook under “Ambition”: “to join Little Richard.”
Many Rock critics noted the similarities between Prince’s androgynous look and vocal style to Little Richard.
In 1963, Richard agreed to assist a failing tour effort by The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley and The Rolling Stones and was given his own TV special after the tour ended.
Little Richard received all the honors possible in music. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of its first group of legendary inductees in 1986. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Little Richard is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 2015, Richard received a Rhapsody & Rhythm Award from the National Museum of African American Music for his key role in the formation of popular music genres and helping to bring an end to the racial divide on the music charts and in concert in the mid-1950s changing American culture significantly.
At the suggestion of Lloyd Price, Little Richard sent a demo to Price’s label, Specialty Records, in 1955. Producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, who worked at Specialty Records, thought Little Richard was Specialty’s answer to Ray Charles, but was told by Little Richard he was a fan of the sound of Fats Domino. In 1955, he recorded “Tutti Frutti” in three takes and it was released as a single in November 1955.
Penniman’s performances, like most early rock and roll shows, resulted in integrated audience reaction during an era of strict segregation in the South. On tours that included groups of music stars, Little Richard and other artists such as Fats Domino and Chuck Berry would allow audiences Black and white to enter buildings via the same door but sit in separate places — but everyone would dance.
Vocal supremacist groups such as the North Alabama White Citizens Council warned that rock and roll “brings the races together.” The universal popularity of Little Richard killed the myth that black performers could not successfully perform at white-only venues.
Little Richard’s high-energy performances while playing the piano included dancing on top of the piano, running on and off the stage and throwing souvenirs to the audience. He also dressed flamboyantly onstage. Some of what is taken for granted now in popular music was invented by Little Richard.
Little Richard was ranked eighth on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and Rolling Stone listed three of Little Richard’s recordings, “The Girl Can’t Help It”, “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti”, on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Little Richard was the third of 12 children of Leva Mae and Charles Penniman. His father was a church deacon and his mother was a member of Macon’s New Hope Baptist Church.

Notice of Local Events Postponed

Notice of Local Events Postponed
The following local events have been postponed due to the
Coronavirus.

March 23 thru 25- St. Paul United Methodist Church Spring Youth Revival which will be rescheduled Our theme is “Revive Us O Lord”; Sub-theme, “Who Will Stand In The Gap”? Dr. Kitsy Dixon, Pastor.

The Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce
Annual Awards Dinner and Membership Drive
scheduled for Thursday, March 26, 2020 will be rescheduled.

Cancellation of the Greene County Community Choir Concert, scheduled for Sunday, March 29th @ 4:00 PM – St Matthew Watson Missionary
Baptist Church, Rev Christopher Spencer, Pastor.

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.