Annual festival features Kids Tent with art workshop; music, crafts and foodways still core of celebration

Author and graphic artist Mynecia (Mya) Steele engages children in art activities at Saturday’s festival.

The 47th annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, held Saturday and Sunday, August 27-28, 2022, in Eutaw, featured a Kids Tent providing art activities for children, designed and led by local author and graphic artists Mynecia (Mya) Steele.  The youth enjoyed face painting and creating their own artistic designs.  As producer of the annual festival, the Society of Folk Arts & Culture provided the art materials for the Kids Tent, including prizes and awards.  “The intent of the Kids Tent was to help young people feel they are part of the festival as a community celebration; there is a place for them at the festival,” stated Dr. Carol Zippert, festival coordinator.

    The two-day festival also featured the annual activities of the Ole Timey Blues stage on Saturday with musicians Clarence Davis, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Lil’ Lee and the Midnight Blues Band and others. The Ole Timey Gospel stage on Sunday brought us Glory 2 Glory, Eddie Mae Brown, Dwayne Charleston and Company and many more. 

    Crafts and traditional foodways satisfied the music loving crowd. There was a noted transition among the craft artists.  Where the festival once attracted many quilters and basket weavers, younger craft artists are joining the festival with handmade jewelry, organic items including soaps, scents and lotions; authored books, paintings and other home decorative items.

    The annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival continues as our signature community celebration.

Ms. Odessa Rice, local folk artist, looks forward to annual festival celebration

Ms. Odessa Rice of Mantua, AL is a longtime participant in the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, which began in 1975 as part of the Miles College Eutaw Extension Program. Ms. Rice, who is noted as a bearer of the culture and traditions of the West Alabama region, is noted for her basketweaving, quilting and related needle crafts including knitting, crocheting and embroidery.
Ms. Rice has designed baskets, dolls and sundry other items from bullrush grass, corn husks and pine needles. She often dabbles in jewelry making.
She learned quilting at a very young age, mastering the storied designs handed down to her from family members and neighbors. “ We made quilts to keep our families warm during cold winter nights and to also make a room more beautiful,” according to Ms. Odessa Rice. She also noted that quilting, like canning fruits and vegetables, was necessary to care for the family, but these activities were also very important social gatherings. “ We looked forward to getting together with family and neighbors to work with our hands, tell our stories and just laugh and feel good,” stated Ms. Rice.
Ms. Rice, who is very creative in her art, seemingly finds a use for most objects others would throw out or discard. For example, a used-up roll of paper towels presents the opportunity for Ms. Rice to knit a decorative covering for the empty cardboard tube. “I usually throw nothing away. I just find another way to use it,” she said.
Although Ms. Rice is in the decade of her eighties, she is still committed to participating in the 2022 Black Belt Folk Roots Festival scheduled for Saturday, August 27 and Sunday August 28 on the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square (old courthouse square) in the center of the City of Eutaw, Greene County, AL.
“I cannot quilt like I used to. It takes steady hands and sharp eyes for those fine stitches, but I am doing the best I can with my baskets and some jewelry to take to the festival. I look forward to our festival every year. It’s just in my heart,” she commented.
The festival is sponsored by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture. For more information contact Carol P. Zippert at 205-372-0525; email –

Newswire: Vice President Harris addresses NAACP Convention; urges Black voter participation

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Vice President Kamala Harris appeared at the NAACP convention in Atlantic City on Monday, July 18, declaring that freedom, liberty, and democracy are on the ballot in the upcoming midterm elections.
She implored the large gathering at the Atlantic City Convention Center to make sure that all voices are heard. “We’re not going to be able to get these days back, so each one of these days we must, with a sense of urgency, ensure that the American people know their voice and their vote matters,” Harris declared.
“It is their voice. The right to vote is something that the leaders of this organization and its founders knew to be at the core of all of the other rights and freedoms to which we are entitled,” she further implored.
“So, we know what we need to do. And, in particular, to protect the freedom to vote and a women’s right to make decisions about her own body, we need people who will defend our rights up and down the ballot, from district attorneys to state attorneys general, from local sheriffs to governors.”
The vice president received several standing ovations as she spoke of the need to vote. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade association representing 235 African American-owned newspapers and media companies, has teamed with the Transformative Justice Coalition in an effort to register 10 million more Black voters ahead of the midterm and 2024 general elections.
As Harris arrived in Atlantic City, Mayor Marty Small greeted her as she descended from Air Force Two. NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson spoke to the vice president and railed against politicians and the U.S. Supreme Court for “the erosion of constitutional freedom, including the right of a woman over her own body.”
Harris also decried the sharp increase in mass shootings and gun violence in the United States.“There is no reason for weapons of war on the streets of America,” she asserted.
With West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin repeatedly stopping the Biden-Harris administration agenda, Harris called on voters to participate in the U.S. Senate election.
“We will not, and the president has been clear, we will not let the filibuster stand in our way of our most essential rights and freedoms,” Harris declared.
“I visited Buffalo, New York, to attend the funeral of an 86-year-old grandmother who went to the grocery store after, as she often did, spending the day with her husband who was in a nursing home – Mrs. Whitfield.”
Harris continued: “I went to Highland Park, Illinois, where there were strollers and lawn chairs scattered up and down a street where there was supposed to be a parade for July 4th. There – as in Uvalde, Texas; as in Greenwood, Indiana, just last night; and in so many communities across our nation – scenes of ordinary life have been turned into war zones by horrific acts of gun violence.
“Mass shootings have made America a nation in mourning. And it’s not only the mass shootings. We see it in our communities every day, and it is no less tragic or outrageous. Think about it: Black people are 13 percent of America’s population but make up 62 percent of gun homicide victims.
“This issue of the need for reasonable gun safety laws is a real issue when we are talking about the civil right, the right that all communities should have, to live in a place that is safe without weapons of war running those streets.”
She concluded that the number of guns manufactured in the country tripled over the last 20 years. “Today we have more guns in our nation than people,” Harris said.
“Earlier this month, the president signed the first federal gun safety law in nearly 30 years. And it was an important and necessary step. But we need to do more. We must repeal the liability shield that protects gun manufacturers. And we must renew the assault weapons ban.”

Newswire: Nelson Mandela International Day – July 18 –is marked around the world

July 18, 2022 (GIN) Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, an iconic figure who fought South Africa’s apartheid regime, was a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience and an international peacemaker. And he was the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.
  In light of these accomplishments, the United Nations General Assembly designated July 18, his birthday, as Nelson Mandela International Day. It celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact. In honor of his 67 years of public service, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the U.N. ask that you spend 67 minutes of your time, on his birthday, helping others.
 In South Africa, celebrations start early at Mvezo, Madiba’s birthplace. Chief Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, addressed the community: “Madiba was outspoken in human rights, justice and peace. We continue to utilize his legacy as a voice for many oppressed nations around the world.” He mentioned consultations about the “last colony in Africa – Western Sahara”, as well as the case of the Palestinians, Kashmir, Yemen, Syria, and Ukraine.
 This year the focus is on food security and fighting global warming. Hundreds of trees will be planted  to bring this vision to life. “We’re here to reverse whatever global warming is bringing to Mother Earth,” said one local gardener.
 At the United Nations, Prince Harry, accompanied by his wife Meghan, has been chosen to give  the keynote address on ‘memories and legacy’ of the African leader.  According to a post by the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Twitter, he will also be asking for more peacekeeping troops for South Africa.
 The annual Nelson Mandela lecture held in South Africa will be delivered by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley in November.
And in Chicago, Nando’s Peri Peri, a South African style restaurant, will honor the memory of former president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela with a day of giving on Mandela Day,
All Nando’s restaurants will be serving their signature meal of a quarter of a  flame-grilled chicken with chips (fries) for free between 3-6pm on July 18. Guests are encouraged to donate schools supplies like pens, erasers and composition books to help children in underserved communities.
Nando’s restaurants will also donate 67 meals to local charities, as acknowledgement of Mandela’s 67 years of battling for social justice.

Newswire: Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charge in Russian court

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner told a Russian court Thursday that she didn’t intend to commit a crime, but in her rush to pack her luggage, she accidentally carried a small amount of cannabis oil.
The Phoenix Mercury standout then pleaded guilty to drug smuggling, which could land her as much as ten years in prison. She has been detained since February, and officials scheduled a July 14 court appearance for the now-convicted basketball player.
U.S. officials didn’t immediately comment. Recently, there’s been a growing call for her release. Many observers have opined that Russia is using the 31-year-old as a political pawn.
It’s believed Russian President Vladimir Putin would free Griner if the United States did likewise for convicted arms dealer Victor Bout.
It’s unknown whether Griner’s guilty plea is part of an overall strategy to bring her home, with the thought of not dragging out the court case and lessening the spotlight.
On July 4, President Joe Biden received a letter from Griner pleading for his help getting her home. A day later, Cherelle Griner, the WNBA player’s wife, went on national television to express frustration that she hadn’t been in touch with the White House about Brittney.
On July 6, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner via telephone and reassured her that the administration is continuing to work to bring her loved one home.
“While I will remain concerned and outspoken until she is back home, I am hopeful in knowing that the President read my wife’s letter and took the time to respond,” Cherelle Griner said. “I know BG will be able to find comfort in knowing she has not been forgotten.” Biden shared with Cherelle Griner a letter he planned to send to Brittney.

Newswire: 17 receive Presidential Medal of Freedom at White House ceremony

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Fred Gray, Tuskegee Civil Rights attorney receives medal
Diane Nash, founder of SNNC receives medal

A reporter reported about Covid kept actor Denzel Washington from attending the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House on Thursday, but 16 others, including Olympic Champion Simone Biles, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe, and Khazir Khan, joined President Joe Biden to accept their respective honors.
Washington, Khan, Rapinoe, and Sandra Lindsay, the Black nurse from New York who received the first shot of COVID vaccine and served on the front lines of the pandemic, each received the medals – the country’s highest civilian honor.
“The Fourth of July week reminds us of what brought us together long ago and still binds us – binds us at our best, what we strive for,” Biden remarked during the ceremony.
“We the people, doing what we can to ensure that the idea of America, the cause of freedom, shines like the sun to light up the future of the world,” Biden stated.
McCain, who served alongside Biden in the U.S. House and Senate, received his award posthumously, as did Apple Founder Steve Jobs and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Other medal recipients were former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., an advocate of campaign finance reform and marriage equality; Sister Simone Campbell, an advocate for progressive issues; Julieta García, the first Hispanic woman to serve as President of a U.S. college; Fred Gray, one of the first Black members of the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction and attorney for Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks; the Rev. Alexander Karloutsos, former vicar-general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Diane Nash, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who worked with Martin Luther King Jr.; Wilma Vaught, an Air Force brigadier general and one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military; and Raúl Yzaguirre, a civil rights advocate who was the CEO and President of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years.

The White House said the President presents medals to individuals who have had significant cultural impacts or made significant contributions to the country or the world.

Newswire: Mississippi team uncovers arrest warrant for White woman who lied about Emmett Till

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

More than six decades after the horrific, racially-motivated murder of Emmett Till, the White woman who accused him of verbally and physically accosting her in Money, Miss., in 1955, has admitted she lied, according to a new book. (Wikimedia Commons)

A search team has found the unserved warrant charging a white woman in the 1955 kidnapping of Emmett Till.
The Associated Press reported that the team searched a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence about the African American teenager’s lynching, and now relatives of the victim want authorities to finally arrest the woman nearly 70 years later.
A warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham — identified as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” on the document — was discovered last week by searchers inside a file folder that had been placed in a box, Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill told The Associated Press.
Stockstill told the outlet that documents are kept inside boxes by decade, but there was nothing else to indicate where the warrant, dated Aug. 29, 1955, might have been. “They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s and got lucky,” said Stockstill, who certified the warrant as genuine.
In March, President Joe Biden signed into law the Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022, which makes lynching a federal hate crime. Earlier, the bipartisan measure passed both chambers of Congress.
Named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American savagely murdered by a group of white men in Mississippi, the legislation received push back from three Republicans – Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Chip Roy of Texas. Each were the lone votes against the bill.

Newswire: What is the Biden Administration doing to free Brittney Griner?

By Zack Linly, NewsOne

WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives at a hearing at the Khimki Court outside Moscow on June 27, 2022. ( Source: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / Getty)

Here’s a thought: Why is Brittney Griner still in jail and what is the Biden administration doing about bringing her home?
Griner has been locked up in a Russian jail since February for allegedly possessing vape cartridges that contained hashish oil. It took until May for the State Department to classify her “wrongfully detained,” which meant the U.S. could expand its efforts to bring her home despite the law in Russia. So, it took more than three months just for our government to grant her the classification needed to really begin efforts to bring her back to the U.S.
And yet, nearly every time there’s an update on Griner’s situation, it’s a story about her detention being extended or her wife, Cherelle Griner, urging Joe Biden to take swifter action or the government claiming her release is a “top priority” but not saying much else about what’s being done. (Meanwhile, the administration has announced the prisoner exchange of Trevor Reed, a former Marine from Texas who allegedly assaulted a Russian officer arresting him in 2019. This, of course, only increased public outcry for Griner’s release.)
In fact, throughout all of this, Biden has claimed his administration has been working tirelessly to bring Griner back to the states, but where’s the evidence of this great effort?
According to the New York Times, last week, “dozens of organizations representing people of color, women and L.G.B.T.Q. voters called on President Biden” by sending him a letter urging him to finally strike a deal for the WNBA star’s release.
From the Times: In a letter sent to Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the groups said Ms. Griner “continues to endure inhumane treatment, deprived of contact with her family.”
The letter said the United States “has acknowledged that Brittney is essentially a political pawn in classifying her as wrongfully detained.” And while the signatories cited “deep appreciation” for the administration’s efforts to free Ms. Griner, “we now urge you to make a deal to get Brittney back home to America immediately and safely.”
 Cherelle praised the letter while also noting that she doesn’t believe any negotiations for her wife’s release have taken place at all.
“To my understanding, they have not started negotiating her release, and so this letter is very powerful because it’s much-needed support to highlight the fact that we are at the phase where you guys should be making a deal,” Cherelle said.
Meanwhile, Griner is finally scheduled for a trial date this Friday., July 1, 2022. She’s facing up to 10 years if convicted.

Commission approves County Rd. 60 bridge replacement; fails to make appointment to Greene County Water Board

The Greene County Commission met in regular session, Monday, May 9, 2022 with all commissioners present. Following the usual protocols including welcome to visitors, invocation, action on previous minutes and the agenda, the body accepted the financial reports presented without further discussion since these had been throughly reviewed at the commission’s work session, held Wednesday, May 4, 2022. The previous minutes and the current agenda were approved.
Under new business, the commission approved payment of claims for April, 2022, totaling $976,194.48. The electronic claims paid for April, including with holdings and retirements, totaled $82,236.83. The county’s bank balances for April are as follows: Citizen Trust Bank – $6,099,090.13; Merchant & Farmers – $5,229,339.67; Bond Sinking Funds – $724,492.25.
Following an executive session, the commission considered an appointment for the Greene County Water Authority, but failed to secure sufficient votes for any of the three candidates nominated, including Mr. Andrew Woods, who received two votes; Mr. Joe L. Powell, who received one vote and Mrs. Ester Austin, who also received one vote. Consideration of the appointment was then tabled.
On other agenda items, the commission took the following action:
* Awarded bid to Glasgow Construction for bridge replacement on County Road 60 over Little Creek in the amount of $596,363.18, authorizing the Chairman to sign all necessary documents.
*Appointed the Commission Chairperson to serve on the ACCA Legislative Committee.
* Approved the purchase of a full page ad in the Greene County Democrat’s annul Graduation Edition, honoring 2022 graduates from the Greene County School System.
* Approved travel for County Engineer and Assistant Engineer to attend conferences scheduled during month of June.


As of May 2, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,301,171 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(2,034) more than last week with 19,570 deaths (29) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,875 confirmed cases, (2) more cases than last week), with 48 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,586 cases with 51 deaths

Hale Co. had 4,731 cases with 106 deaths

Note: has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.