Dallas County Courthouse Annex named and dedicated to Attorneys J. L. Chestnut and Bruce Carver Boynton

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

On Tuesday, September 14, 2021 there was a ceremony held in Selma, Alabama, to dedicate and name the Dallas County Courthouse Annex for two civil rights attorneys who were born and worked much of their lives in Selma and the Alabama Black Belt.

The dedication was attended by more than 200 people from the area and others whose lives were touched by the two men. This program culminated a ten-year effort by Black community groups and leaders to name the judicial building for the two pioneering attorneys, who paved the way for many other Black lawyers, judges and clients to be successful in their life endeavors.

The Dallas County Commission, elected in November 2020, which had a Black majority for the first time in modern history, agreed to the naming of the Courthouse Annex for the two attorneys, at their first meeting. It took an additional nine months to complete the task and hold the unveiling ceremony. 

The five Commission members, including Chairperson, Jimmy Nunn, the Probate Judge, and Commissioners Connel Towns, Vivian Rogers, Curtis Williams and Jan Justice (the only white member) were all present and along with family members from the Chestnut and Boynton families, pulled a plastic covering off the naming lettering on the Courthouse wall, to unveil the shining new name of the facility.

Attorney J. L. Chestnut returned to Selma in 1958, from Howard University Law School, to practice law for half a century in his home town.
During the 1960’s Chestnut represented many civil rights and voting rights leaders who were involved with and arrested as part of the Civil Rights Movement.

4th. District Circuit Judge Collins Pettaway Jr. noted in his remarks that 

“Attorney Chestnut sued to have Blacks seated on juries, in this very building, where we now hold jury trials, which is now named for him.” At one point in the program there were fifteen Black judges in robes, from around Alabama, who stood up to honor the two attorneys for whom the building is now named. Chestnut headed the largest Black law-firm in the state of Alabama, Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders and Pettaway in the 1990’s and paved the way for many Black lawyers to practice in the state.

J. L. Chestnut was the lead attorney in the Pigford I and II class action cases by Black farmers against the U. S. Department of Agriculture for discrimination in agricultural lending. He won this largest discrimination settlement against the Federal government of over $2.5 Billion, for thousands of Black farmers. His work on the Pigford cases inspired Native Americans, Hispanics and Women farmers to sue and reach settlements with the Federal government.

Bruce Carver Boynton also attended Howard Law School. On his way home at Christmas 1958, he went to the white-only lunch counter, because it was cleaner, in the segregated Richmond, Virginia bus station to get a snack. He was arrested and convicted for trespassing. Attorney Thurgood Marshall appealed his case to the U. S.  Supreme Court and won a judgement in 1960 which opened the way to desegregate bus stations and other facilities linked to interstate travel. It took the Freedom Rides of the 1960’s to enforce the decision that Boynton had won from the Supreme Court.

After Boynton graduated from Howard Law School, he returned to Alabama, but the State Bar denied him a license for six years, while they supposedly investigated his case. He practiced in Chattanooga, Tennessee,

Washington, D. C. and Selma, Alabama.

Many speakers and dignitaries who had worked with both attorneys spoke on the program, including Selma Mayor James Perkins, retired Judge John H. England, who was master of ceremonies for the program, former Governor Don Siegleman, Melinda Williams, Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Terri Sewell and many others. Attorney Fay Rose Toure, a partner of Attorney J. L. Chestnut, led a litany to honor both, which involved the audience in praising their character and accomplishments.

The Freedom Riders Museum in Montgomery and the Alabama Historical Commission presented framed resolutions to the Boynton family for his working in integrating public accommodations. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund presented a framed resolution to the Chestnut family for his work on behalf of Black farmers.

Senator Malika Sanders-Fortier of Selma was the final speaker. She thanked everyone for coming to honor the two attorneys and then said, “Today we celebrate making the impossible possible! It was a miracle from God that enabled these lawyers to do what they did and make the changes they made. Little Black girls and boys today still need miracles. Their work and our work is not yet done. Despite every obstacle put in our path, we must keep working to make the impossible possible.”

Federation holds 54th Annual Meeting; honors Marian Wright Edelman

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund held its fifty-fourth Annual Meeting, on a virtual basis over three days, August 19-21, 2021. The Federation started in 1967 by cooperatives and credit unions that were developed during the Civil Rights Movement is now the premier organization representing 75 cooperatives and 10,000 remaining Black farmers in the South. On Thursday evening, the Federation honored Marian Wright Edelman, emeritus director of the Children’s Defense Fund, with its Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award, for her service to low-income people, especially children. Edelman is also a long-time columnist in the Greene County Democrat. This was the twentieth time the Federation awarded its highest award, named for Estelle Witherspoon, former Manager of the Freedom Quilting Bee of Wilcox County and an original incorporator of the Federation. The award was accepted by Oleta Fitzgerald, a long-time colleague of Marian Wright Edelman. On Friday, the Federation hosted a panel of representatives of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on programs and benefits available to Black and family sized farmers, like those in the Federation’s membership. The panel was highlighted by its first speaker, Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack said he was working to “include more equity and diversity in the internal operations, staffing and programs of USDA. He introduced several Black and people of color, that he had selected to serve in leadership positions within USDA. The Secretary also announced the availability of $67 million in funding for an “Heirs Property Re-lending Program” which will assist families facing problems in clearing title to agricultural land, left by deceased relatives, who did not make wills. The Federation worked to get provisions for this program included in the 2018 Farm Bill but the Trump Administration failed to issue regulations to implement the program. The Secretary indicated that he expected the Federation, among others groups, to apply for these funds to implement a stronger program of heirs property assistance. The Secretary also spoke to the assistance for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers in Sections 1005 and 1006 of the American Rescue Plan. The $4 billion of debt relief promised in Section 1005 has been held-up by lawsuits filed by White farmers in 13 Federal Court districts, who charge that the program discriminates against them. Vilsack said USDA was fighting the lawsuits and would continue the moratorium on foreclosures until the legal matters were resolved. He also said that he was working to implement Section 1006 which will provide benefits to BIPOC farmers as Congress intended. Agency heads from Farm Services Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Forestry Service, Rural Development, APHIS, Agricultural Marketing Service and others also spoke about their programs, services and benefits tailored to BIPOC farmers. On Saturday, the Federation held a prayer breakfast followed by a business meeting. Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, reported that despite many challenges the organization was financially stable, staffed and ready to assist its members in growing and having greater success as farmers, fishers and workers in the coming post-pandemic economy. The Federation also award six young people, affiliated with Federation member organizations with a $1,000 college scholarship, named for Anulet Pat Jackson, a former staff member. The scholarships have been funded on an annual basis for the past ten years by Sharing Inc. Pam Madzima, Alabama State Coordinator for the Federation, said, “We have awarded 75 young people scholarships through this program. Many have gone on to complete their studies and serve their communities.”

Newswire: Civil Rights legend Bob Moses dies at 86

Bob Moses

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Robert Parris Moses, one of America’s foremost civil rights leaders who stood fearless in the face of violence to register African American voters in the South, has died at the age of 86. His daughter, Maisha Moses, announced his death.

Often clad in denim overalls, Moses drew comparisons to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The depth and scale of Moses’ courage proved legendary. His activism drew the ire of White supremacists, but minorities and the oppressed hailed him as a pioneer. Moses famously noted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) Ella Baker as an inspiration.

In a tribute released by the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on Sunday, July 25, SNCC officials said Moses was key to the SNCC launching its voter registration campaign in Mississippi.

That work led to Freedom Schools, the 1964 Summer Project, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the Poor People’s Campaign, and the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union.

“And these not only began to alter the face of Mississippi but also challenged the country to be true to the best in itself,” the SNCC wrote in its tribute.

They continued: “At the heart of these efforts was SNCC’s idea that people – ordinary people long denied this power – could take control of their lives. These were the people that Bob brought to the table to fight for a seat: maids, sharecroppers, day workers, barbers, beauticians, teachers, preachers, and many others from all walks of life.”

The statement continued: “The Algebra Project [Moses] founded in 1982 is a direct outgrowth of this early work in Mississippi. The project’s work aims to prepare those still kept on the bottom rungs of our society for success in the information economy of the 21st century.

“Finally, the SNCC Legacy Project want to issue a call on behalf of Bob and other SNCC veterans like Julian Bond, John Lewis, Chuck McDew, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruby Doris Robinson, James Forman, Marion Barry, Ms. Ella Baker, Amzie Moore, Unita Blackwell, and the local people with whom they worked to continue to raise the banner of the continuing struggle for a better world.”

Noted Civil Rights leader and National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., saluted the life and legacy of Moses on behalf of the Black Press of America. “Bob Moses’ entire life was dedicated to freedom, justice, and equality for African Americans and all people,” Dr. Chavis reflected.

“The Black Press of America pauses to express our condolences to the Moses family and to rededicate our journalistic efforts to keep alive the legacy and the vision of Bob Moses.“SNCC does not get enough credit for all of the transformative work that SNCC accomplished in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Long live the spirit of Bob Moses.”

When people would ask what they should do, Moses asked them what they thought; filmmaker Ava DuVernay offered in a quote she credited to political activist Tom Hayden.

“At meetings, he usually sat in the back and spoke last,” DuVernay noted.“He slept on floors, wore overalls, shared the risks, took the blows. ”DuVernay said Moses dug deep.

Imani Perry, the Hughes Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, called Moses her model for organizing. “Principled, intellectual, humble, deliberate, willing to work with all who come, never berating but consistently challenging,” Perry stated. “Fun loving, kind, and a reflective teacher,” she concluded.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson told the New York Times that Moses exemplified putting community interests above ego and personal interest.

“If you look at his work, he was always pushing local leadership first,” Johnson exclaimed.

Born on Jan. 23, 1935, in Harlem, New York, Moses became a schoolteacher. He later moved to Mississippi and quickly organized civil rights activists to counter actions by the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.

Despite the violence that African Americans routinely faced when trying to vote, Moses helped register thousands of voters. He trained countless organizers inside the walls of so-called freedom schools to carry out the mission of civil rights.

During one encounter with White supremacists, Moses suffered a severe head injury that required nine stitches. While bloodied, bruised, and nearly unconscious, Moses led a group to a Mississippi courthouse to register them to vote.

When he was 73, Moses told CNN he did not vote for a president in three decades until 2008 for President Barack Obama. “I don’t do politics, but I made sure to vote this time,” Moses said. “Obama is the first person I really felt moved to vote for.”

CNN noted that “Obama called Moses a hero of his, Moses recalled, recounting to an Obama rally he attended where the former President discovered he was in the audience.”

Moses is survived by his wife, Janet, and children Maisha, Omo, Taba, and Malika.

Judge John H. England, Jr. receives SCLC’s Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award

Judge England and his grandson Christopher John England, Jr.

Shown above: Rev. Ricky McKinney, Tuscaloosa Municipal Court Judge; Judge England; State Rep. Chris England; Donna Foster; and State Senator Bobby Singleton.

 

On the grounds of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse where he served as Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge before his retirement earlier this year, Judge John H. England, Jr. was presented the Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Sunday, June 27, 2021. The Plaque was presented by SCLC Chapter President, Rev. James Williams and England’s son State Representative Christopher John England, Sr. Of all the presenters at the ceremony, Judge England’s seemingly greatest pride fell upon his grandson Christopher John England, Jr., who read his grandfather’s biographical sketch. England’s Pastor, the Rev. Anderson T. Graves, II, of Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church in Tuscaloosa, was the keynote speaker. In lifting England’s undergraduate studies in Chemistry at Tuskegee University, Rev. Graves noted that a key feature of scientific equations is balance, and attributed that same characteristic of balance to Judge’s England life of service and contributions toward the wellbeing of others. Each presenter lauded England as a living legend and a trailblazer for his contributions to civil rights and generally for securing and protecting human rights. Representative Chris England delivered warm platitudes toward his Dad, also noting that the elder was known for embarrassing him as well as many others. Chris clarified that in that scenario of embarrassment, “…there was always a lesson and today I am very grateful for that.” The ceremony for Judge England included Donna Foster as Mistress of Ceremony; Welcome by Commissioner Reginald Murray (Tuscaloosa County District 4); Song by Reuben Harris, Jr. A reception followed at The Willie Clyde and Kay Rice Jones Education Building at Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church. Judge H. England, Jr., who proudly claims his birthplace in the Alabama Black Belt, was born in Perry County (Uniontown) and attended public schools in Birmingham, AL.  He is a 1969 graduate of Tuskegee Institute (University) with a BS Degree in Chemistry. In 1999, Tuskegee bestowed him with an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree.   England served two years in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman and later graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1974, and began his law practice. He and SCLC President, Charles Steele, were the first African Americans elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council in 1985.  England served two terms and was Chairman of the Finance and Community Development Committee.  When he was appointed to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court in 1993 by Governor Jim Folsom, England became the first African American to hold a county-wide political office.  He was re-elected to a full term in that office in 1994, where he served until he was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Governor Don Siegelman in 1999, the third African American to hold such a seat. England returned to the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County in 2001 and served continuously through his current retirement. Judge England currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and in 2019 was the first African American to have a dormitory on the University’s campus named for him (John H. England, Jr. Hall). He takes a father’s pride and joy in the fact that he is the first African American UA Law School graduate to witness his three children graduate from the UA Law School: John H. England, III, U.S. is a Magistrate Judge for the Northern District in Alabama, April England Albright, is a Civil Rights Attorney in Atlanta and Chris England is an Alabama State Representative and Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.

1st Responders Parade draws region wide participants

Thursday- June 17, 2021, the City of Eutaw Police Department held a 1st Responders Parade on the town square, participants from Livingston, York, Demopolis, Moundville, Greensboro, Greene County and Pickensville and many other Police Departments and Fire Departments came out for the celebration.

Newswire: Vice President Kamala Harris becomes highest ranking Black woman from U.S. to make foreign trip

Vice-President Harris arrives in Guatemala

By Bruce C.T. Wright, NewsOne

There is no shortage of Black history being made in the year 2021. This time around, Vice President Kamala Harris has become the highest-ranking Black woman government official in U.S. history to make a foreign trip. Guatemala literally rolled out the red carpet as the first woman and first Black vice president of the United States touched down on Sunday for her maiden trip abroad for President Joe Biden‘s administration to address the immigration crisis at America’s southern border. However, not everybody in Guatemala was happy that Harris was visiting. The trip is part of Harris’ duties as assigned by Biden to figure out how to effectively — and humanely — handle the influx of migrants seeking citizenship following the massive failure in that arena by President Donald Trump and his administration, which separated families at the border, caged the children and deported the adults. Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei during a bilateral meeting to address the root causes of migration from Central America. The vice president was among multiple government officials from both countries to meet at the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Guatemala City. “The goal of the vice president’s trip is to deepen our strategic partnership and bilateral relationship with both the Guatemalan and Mexican governments to advance a comprehensive strategy to tackle the causes of migration,” Harris’ spokesperson, Symone Sanders, told CNN. While the talks got underway inside the opulent building that is the equivalent of Guatemala’s White House, protesters outside demonstrated against Harris’ presence in their country. Photos showed protesters carrying signs in English as well as Spanish that implored Harris to “mind your own business” and “go home” and saying she was “not welcome.” Back home in the U.S., Harris was the subject of false media reports centered on her new immigration role. A reporter with the conservative tabloid New York Post was forced to quit in April after writing without offering any proof that undocumented migrant minors arriving at the border were being greeted by American officials with copies of a children’s book written by the vice president. Previously, Harris hosted a virtual bilateral meeting on the same topic with Giammattei in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House on April 26. Following the meeting in Guatemala, Harris was scheduled to travel to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to “attend roundtable discussions with entrepreneurs and labor leaders,” NBC News reported. But considering the important role that Mexico plays with immigration to the U.S. — migrants traveling through Central America typically must pass through Guatemala before getting to Mexico, from where they cross into any number of border states like Texas, Arizona and California — chances are those talks will also address America’s migrant crisis while the vice president is in Central America. The meeting in Mexico may even touch on Trump’s infamous border wall that Democrats and the Mexican government alike vehemently opposed. Prior to Harris’ trip this week, other high-ranking Black American women to travel abroad for the U.S. government include Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, and Susan Rice, who served as former President Barack Obama‘s national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations.

Greenetrack, Inc. sponsors First Juneteenth celebration in Greene County

Greene County can boast of extraordinary and consistent efforts to celebrate and commemorate significant social, political, and cultural change events that had positive impacts on all of Greene County and beyond, but Greene County has never celebrated Juneteenth. Through the efforts of Spiver Gordon, the county celebrates Greene County Freedom Day, July 29, 1969, when the 80% + Black population won a sweep of county political offices. Gordon also leads annual celebrations and commemorations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s, birthday, January 15, 1929 and assassination, April 4, 1968. But Greene County has never celebrated Juneteenth. We have celebrated Kwanzaa in Greene County over 30 years and the Black Belt Folk Roots Festival for 45 years. But Greene County has never celebrated Juneteenth. We have Boligee Day and Maydays in Forkland and Union. But Greene County has never celebrated Juneteenth. Juneteenth (a contraction of June and nineteenth) also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day – is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of Black people enslaved in the United States. June 19, 1865 is the date Texas was forced to free enslaved Black people in the state, nearly three years after the initial Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln. Juneteenth is now coming to Greene County. According to President and CEO, Luther Winn, Greenetrack is sponsoring the First Juneteenth Celebration in Greene County. The events, scheduled for Saturday, June 19, 2021 on the grounds of Greenetrack gaming, County Road 208, will feature a Car and Bike Show at 2:00 p.m, garnering $500 to the winner in each category; Ms. Juneteenth Pageant at 4:00 pm, awarding cash prizes starting at $2,500 along with a Smart TV; and a free concert featuring Steve Perry and Ms. Jodi, beginning at 7:00 p.m. On June 19, 1865, Federal Troops forced Texas to free enslaved Black people, who should have been set free at the official close of the Civil War. The Battle of Appomattox Court House, fought in Appomattox County, Virginia, on the morning of April 9, 1865, was one of the last battles of the American Civil War (1861–1865). It was the final engagement of Confederate General in Chief, Robert E. Lee, and his Army of Northern Virginia before it surrendered to the Union Army of the Potomac under the Commanding General of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It stipulated that if the Southern states did not cease their rebellion by January 1, 1863, then Proclamation would go into effect. When the Confederacy did not yield, Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the states in rebellion. The Civil War and enslavement of Blacks continued until Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865. Enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied on the advance of Union troops. Texas, as the most remote of the slave states, had a low presence of Union troops as the American Civil War ended; thus enforcement there had been slow and inconsistent before Granger’s announcement. Juneteenth is thus commemorated on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas. Originating in Galveston, Texas, Juneteenth is now celebrated annually on June 19 throughout the United States, with increasing official recognition.

Superintendent Jones lays out conditions for reopening schools

At the Greene County Board of Education’s virtual meeting on February 22, 2021, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones informed the board that he has created a School Reopening Committee to explore the conditions that will be favorable for face-to face instruction again. Jones stated that there will be no recommendation to the board to reopen schools until all employees have had the opportunity for vaccinations; the county’s COVID positivity rate has declined to a safer rate; a determination is made on the number of students to bring back at a time; and a summer school plan is explored to assist students to remain on grade level.
Superintendent Jones noted that the committee will contact surrounding school districts that are currently providing face-to-face instruction, and what safety protocols are in place – what has worked well for them. “The committee will use this information to strengthen our re-opening plan, ” he said. According to the superintendent, the school facilities are already equipped with plexiglass dividers and hand sanitizers in all classrooms; foggers and other cleaning methods are employed on a regular basis, as well as a process to increase air flow throughout the building.
Board member Veronica Richardson raised the question on a timeline for students receiving COVID vaccines. Dr. Jones agreed to seek information regarding state plans for student vaccinations.
Jones noted that on Saturday, Feb. 20, over 200 citizens were vaccinated at the Greene County Health Department in Eutaw. The next scheduled dates for vaccinations are February 24 and March 3. He said that Greene County had a COVID-19 positivity rate of 11.4% for the previous 14 days. “This is a good sign, if we can just continue on this path,” he stated.
The CSFO Ms. Lavanda Blair presented the snapshot financial report for December. She noted that the system is financially strong, even with the current decrease in property and sales taxes. She provided clarity on the budget adjustments involving carryover funds to the current fiscal year.
The board approved the following recommendations presented by the superintendent.
Personnel: Arnthena Hill, Special Education Consultant, for the remainder of the school year.* Administrative Services: January 2021 Budget Amendment; Payment of all bills, claims and payroll.

Newswire: Keeping the legacy of legendary Supremes star Mary Wilson alive

Mary Wilson

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Mary Wilson was a friend to the Black Press of America, a neighbor to the world, and the radiance she exuded never seem to fade. At 76, the Supremes legend is gone too soon.
Wilson died suddenly late Monday, Feb. 8, at her home just outside of Las Vegas.
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” Motown founder Berry Gordy wrote in a statement emailed to NNPA Newswire.
Gordy emphasized, “The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of number one hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others.”
“I was always proud of Mary,” Berry Gordy concluded.  “She was quite a star in her own right and continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes over the years. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva, and will be deeply missed.”
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, affirmed, “On behalf of NNPA Chair Karen Cater Richards and all of the 230 African American NNPA member publishers across the United States and the Caribbean, we pause solemnly today to pay tribute and our profound respects to the living memory, legacy and cultural genius of our beloved Mary Wilson. She loved and supported the Black Press of America, and we will always love and keep Mary Wilson’s transformative spirit in our hearts as the NNPA continues to publish truth to power in America and throughout the world.”
In a 2020 interview on the Black Press of America’s “Fiyah!” livestream program, Wilson talked about her life and career and her long pursuit of having Florence Ballard memorialized with a United States Postal Service stamp.“People forget that Florence Ballard not only gave us our name, but she formed the group,” Wilson revealed on “Fiyah!”

“It was really Flo who formed us, and I want people to know that. I am putting together a program to get Florence Ballard a U.S. stamp, hopefully, so I want people to send their request and say something about Florence. All those hits were Florence, so when you listening to [The Supremes], it’s about Flo, so I want people who listen to those songs that bring back memories, think about Flo.”
A singer, best-selling author, motivational speaker, businesswoman, former U.S. Cultural Ambassador, mother, and grandmother, the legendary Mary Wilson made great strides on her inevitable journey to greatness.
As an original/founding member of The Supremes, she changed the face of popular music to become a trendsetter who broke down social, racial, and gender barriers, which all started with the wild success of their first number one song.
Formed in Detroit as The Primettes in 1959, The Supremes were Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s, scoring 12 No. 1 singles.
They also continue to reign as America’s most successful vocal group to date. Their influence not only carries on in contemporary R&B, soul, and pop, but they also helped pave the way for Black artists’ mainstream success across all genres.
Mary achieved an unprecedented 12 No.1 hits, with 5 of them being consecutive from 1964-1965. Those songs are “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “Back in My Arms Again,” according to Billboard Magazine.
In 2018, Billboard celebrated the 60th anniversary of Motown with a list of “The Hot 100’s Top Artists of All Time”, where The Supremes ranked at No. 16 and remain the No. 1 female recording group of all time.
Jan. 21, 2021, marked the 60th anniversary of the day The Supremes signed with Motown in 1961. This year, Mary kicked off the celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Supremes.
“With the same passion as she did singing with the original Supremes as well as with her solo career, the world-renowned performer was an advocate for social and economic challenges in the United States and abroad,” Wilson’s longtime publicist and friend, Jay Schwartz, said.
“Ms. Wilson used her fame and flair to promote a diversity of humanitarian efforts, including ending hunger, raising HIV/AIDS awareness, and encouraging world peace. Mary was working on getting a U.S. postage stamp of her fellow bandmate and original Supreme Florence Ballard who passed away in 1976,” Schwartz said.
In 2018, Mary’s longtime fight for the passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) came to fruition when it was signed into law on Oct. 11.
The law modernized copyright-related issues for new music and audio recordings due to new forms of technology like digital streaming, which did not protect music recorded before Feb. 15, 1972, according to Schwartz.
Her tireless advocacy for this legislation included trips to Washington D.C. to personally meet with Congress members to advocate for legacy artists gaining fair compensation when their songs are played on digital radio stations, Schwartz continued.
“I think that The Supremes had a lot to do with the awakening of the world in terms of what blackness was,” Wilson said in her 2020 NNPA interview. “The whole world was watching Black people in a way they’d never seen.”

The power of the vote in Greene County What do we do with Black History

Mrs. Edna Chambers was the first Black Woman elected to the Greene County Commission

Mrs. Lula Cook was the first Black Woman
appointed and elected to the office of Tax Collector
NDPA Political Planning Session
L to R: Rev. Peter Kirskey, School Board Member, Rev. William M. Branch Probate Judge candidate, Malcom Branch, Judge Branch’s son, Greene County Commissioner Franchie Burton, Dr. John Cashin, NDPA President, Rev. Thomas Gilmore, Sheriff Candidate, County Commissioner Levi Morrow, Sr., and County Commissioner Harry Means. The group shown here is meeting in a planning session for the special election for Greene County in 1968. (The Afro-American Newspaper in Baltimore MD.)
Greene County Elected Officials L to R: front row Vassie Knott, Levi Morrow; back row-Robert Hines, Harry Means, Franchie Burton and William Branch. ( James Posey is not in the picture.)

It’s that time of year when we go all out to publicly acknowledge who are are, from whence we’ve come and what we have accomplished as Black people. It is also at this time that we profoundly exclaim that truly learning and spreading our history and living ought to be done at least every month of the year, not just in February.
Stories we don’t share with our children today will be lost. Our role is to share our stories, teach their significance and assist the children with the application to their lives.
Since chattel slavery was abolished, except through imprisonment, the vote of Black folk has been the power to our voice. Black folk fought for the vote, we fought to use it, and we continue to fight to keep it and make it permanent.
During Reconstruction in this country, the power of our vote produced Black state and national political leaders. Scholars have identified more than 1,500 African American officeholders who served during the Reconstruction Era (1865–1877). From 1868 to 1878 more than 100 African Americans served in the Alabama Legislature.
Beginning in 1966, Greene County Alabama raised its voice and elected the first Black person to the Greene County Board of Education, Rev. Peter J. Kirksey; and the first Black person to the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee, Rev. W.D. Lewis.
From then on, With 80% of the population, Black folk in Greene County focused on organizing and registering people to vote.
With the assistance of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student National Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and amidst physical brutality and displacements from local white officials and citizenry, the raised voices of Blacks in Greene County in 1969, under the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA), elected the first Black County Commissioners: Rev. Vassie Knott, Mr. Harry Means, Mr. Franchie Burton, and Mr. Levi Morrow, Sr. That same year, Mr. James Posey and Mr. Robert Hines were elected to the Greene County Board of Education.
The vote continued to power our voices in Greene County and in 1970, Rev. William M. Branch was elected the first Black Probate Judge in Greene County and in the nation. Rev. Thomas Gilmore was elected the first Black Sheriff; Mrs. Wadine Williams was elected the first Black Circuit Clerk. Robert Cook was elected the first Black Tax Collector. Rev. Harold Abner Milton was elected first Black Coroner in Greene County. Deacon John Head and Mr. Earsrie Chambers were elected to the Greene County Board of Education and Dr. Robert Brown was appointed the first Black Superintendent of Greene County Schools.
In 1978, Rev. John Kennard was elected the first Black Tax Assessor in Greene County.
Ms. Amanda Burton was appointed the first Black Woman on the Greene County Commission, to complete the term of her husband, Franchie Burton, when he passed. Mrs. Edna Chambers was the first Black Woman elected to the Greene County Commission. Mrs. Lula Cook was the first Black Woman appointed to the office of Tax Collector, when her husband, Robert Cook, passed. She was subsequently elected to that office.