Newswire : House passes transformational Build Back Better Act,but will the Senate follow suit?

Pre-school classroom

By Jane Kennedy

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Frequently compared to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the $1.9 trillion package – the Build Back Better Act – includes investments in child and elder care, universal pre-K and an extension of the child tax credit to provide economic security for tens of millions of working families and pathways to return to the job market. It also addresses the adverse effects of climate change.

“Honoring President Biden’s vision and addressing the needs of the American people, this legislation presents the most historic and transformative agenda in a century. Build Back Better will forge extraordinary progress for the American people: creating good-paying jobs, lowering costs and cutting taxes, while making the wealthiest and big corporations pay their fair share,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to her colleagues.

The Build Back Better Act provides a list of social benefits that would address issues of high importance to African-Americans. President Biden hopes it will be passed by the predominately Democratic Senate and reach his desk shortly after Thanksgiving. Among the benefits:

Lowers Health Care Costs:

Approximately 3.9 million Black people were uninsured in 2019. Despite the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies, coverage under the ACA was too expensive for many families, and more than 570,000 Black people fell into the Medicaid “coverage gap” and were locked out of coverage because their state refused to expand Medicaid. President Biden’s framework closes the Medicaid coverage gap while also lowering health care costs for those buying coverage through the ACA by extending the American Rescue Plan’s lower premiums, which could save 360,000 black people an average of $50 per person per month. With these changes, more than one in three uninsured Black people could gain coverage. It also makes an historic investment in maternal health. Black women die from complications related to pregnancy at three times the rate of White women.
The legislation will also:
• Empower Medicare to negotiate lower drug costs for seniors and halts Big Pharma’s outrageous price hikes above inflation for all Americans.Ensure Americans with diabetes don’t pay more than $35 per month for their insulin.
• Create a new, out-of-pocket cap of $2,000 on what seniors pay for their drugs in Medicare Part D.
• Lower premiums dramatically for those who buy insurance on their own through the Affordable Care Act.
• Extend affordable coverage through the Affordable Care Act to millions of Americans in states that have refused to expand Medicaid.
• Expand Medicare to make hearing care more affordable for seniors.
Lowers Child Care & Family Care Costs:

The cost of child care has placed a serious financial burden on Black parents who are two times more likely than White parents to have to quit, turn down, or make a major change in their job due to child care disruptions. In addition, only 26.8 percent of Black 3- and 4-year old children are enrolled in publicly-funded preschool, while the average cost of preschool for those without access to publicly-funded programs is $8,600. Most families will save more than half of what they currently spend on child care, and the vast majority of families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for child care. It will also reduce the cost of home-based care for the hundreds of thousands of older adults and people with disabilities who need it but lack access. Investment in home care will raise wages for home care workers, 28 percent of whom are Black.
The Build Back Better Act also saves most families more than half their current spending on child care, ensuring the vast majority of families will have to pay no more than 7 percent of their income for child care.
It also:
• Expands the basic promise of free schooling in America for the first time in 100 years with universal pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
• Establishes a universal and permanent paid family and medical leave program, providing four weeks of paid parental, family caregiving, and medical leave.
• Gives more than 35 million families a major tax cut by extending the Biden Child Tax Credit.
• Expands access to high-quality home care for older adults and people with disabilities.
• Cuts the cost of postsecondary education, with such steps as increasing the maximum Pell Grant.
• Reduces families’ housing costs and expands housing options.
Housing and Nutrition

The coronavirus pandemic exposed and created many inequities related to housing and left millions of Americans in fear of facing eviction or foreclosure. Thirty percent of Black renters pay over half their income in rent. The Build Back Better Act will enable the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of more than one million affordable homes, boosting housing supply and reducing price pressures for renters and homeowners. It also will make investments to improve the safety, energy efficiency, and quality of existing public housing, where nearly half of residents are black, and expands the availability of housing choice vouchers to hundreds of thousands more families, including the nearly half of current voucher holders who are Black. In addition, it calls for the removal of lead-based paint from housing units, which disproportionately affects Black children, and provides grants for resident-led community development projects in neighborhoods that have faced systemic disinvestment.

Food insecurity is another problem that has disproportionately affected Black households at a higher rate than the national average, particularly during the pandemic. To help ensure that no one has to worry about whether they can provide nutritious food for themselves or their children, the Build Back Better framework will ensure that the nutritional needs of Black children are met by expanding access to free school meals during the school year and providing students with resources to purchase food over the summer.

What’s Next?

On the night the Build Back Better vote was to take place, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy forced a delay until the following morning by delivering an 8 hour, 32-minute floor speech—the longest in House history—during which he assailed the legislation as “big government socialism.” And, as with most legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, not a single Republican supported the bill, which also lost the support a lone Democrat who voted against it. Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes to pass the bill by Christmas, but he first has to convince all 50 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them to back the plan. It won’t be easy. The paid family leave provision may be cut to satisfy a demand from Sen. Joe Manchin, and Sen. Bernie Sanders will call for provisions in such areas as Medicare and climate to be strengthened. Any changes to the legislation will have to be voted on in the House, where Pelosi holds a razor-thin majority and can only afford three defections from her party.

In the meantime, Democrats have some selling to do. Many of the bill’s provisions won’t go into effect until after the 2022 mid-term election cycle where Democrats will go head to head for control of both houses. They will need to convince the American public of the many ways their lives will be made easier and more affordable by the Build Back Better Act.

Newswire: Private funeral held in South Africa for de Klerk, last of the Apartheid-era presidents


Nelson Mandela and de Klerk sharing Nobel Peace Prize in 1993

Nov. 16, 2021 (GIN) – There will be no state funeral for South Africa’s last white president, Frederick Willem de Klerk, his foundation said in a published statement.
 Instead, Mr. de Klerk will have a private burial following cremation on Nov. 21 for family members that will be closed to the media. He was 85 years of age.
De Klerk, who won praise worldwide for his role in scrapping apartheid and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993, has a conflicted legacy among the country’s Black population for his failure to curb political violence in the run up to South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.
 There was little appetite among South Africans for a state funeral – which ultimately was not scheduled to take place.
 De Klerk passed away after a battle with cancer at his home in the Fresnaye area of Cape Town. After his death, his foundation published a video in which he apologized for “the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage” apartheid caused during decades of white minority rule.
 His previous refusal to apologize came as recently as last year when he said he did not believe apartheid was a crime against humanity. He also angered right wing Afrikaners who viewed him as a traitor to their causes of white supremacy and nationalism by ending apartheid.
 Lukhanyo Calata, son of the anti-apartheid activist Fort Calata, claimed the former president was directly involved in his father’s death and should have been held accountable. Instead, he took “the secrets about the murders of our fathers to the grave.”
 Fort Calata and fellow activists Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto and Sicelo Mhlauli were community leaders, guilty of such things as being part of a Marxist reading group, forming street committees, writing a letter to the municipality about dirty streets, fighting an unfair rental system and writing for a community newspaper. 
 In December 1984, Goniwe called for a boycott known as the “Black Christmas” of white-owned shops, infuriating the white business community. The boycott was successful as the Lingelihle community did not buy food or liquor from white-owned stores.
 In 1985 they were abducted and murdered by South African security police under orders of the apartheid regime. The so-called Cradock Four who came from the town of Cradock, were members of the anti-apartheid United Democratic Front.
 A document leaked to the press years after their deaths resulted in the removal of several police officers. At the second inquest, a judge ruled that the “security forces” were responsible, but named no one individual.
 Calata, Goniwe, Mhlauli and Mkonto were buried in Cradock on July 20,1985, at a massive political funeral attended by thousands of people from all over the country. Speakers at the funeral included Beyers Naudé, Allan Boesak and Steve Tshwete. A message from the then president of the ANC Oliver Tambo was read. It was also the first time that a huge SA Communist Party flag was unfurled and openly displayed at the funeral.
 De Klerk oversaw the end of white minority rule as the country’s last apartheid president and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela.

 

 

Newswire: Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty of all charges

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Kyle Rittenhouse escaped punishment in the shooting deaths of two men during the unrest that followed the 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The jury deliberated for about four days, before issuing unanimous verdicts on all counts.

The jury considered five charges against the now 18-year-old: First-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon – or that Rittenhouse recklessly caused the death of Rosenbaum under circumstances that showed utter disregard for human life.

First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon – or that Rittenhouse recklessly endangered the safety of Richard McGinniss — a journalist with the conservative Daily Caller — under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life.

First-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon – or that Rittenhouse did cause the death of Huber, with intent to kill him.

First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon – or that Rittenhouse did recklessly endanger the safety of an unknown male, referred to as “jump kick man” in court, under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life.

Attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a weapon – or that Rittenhouse attempted to cause the death of Grosskreutz, with intent to kill him.

Right-wing groups are trying to cast Rittenhouse as a hero for vigilantism and support for unbridled gun rights since he crossed state lines carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon and was acquitted for killing two people and injuring others.

Black leaders and others are pointing to this case as a “mis-carriage of justice” and indication that the justice system does not treat Black and white defendants the same way. Others are calling for Federal civil rights charges against Rittenhouse.

Newswire: Investigators exonerate men convicted in the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X

Malcom X

By Stacy M. Brown: NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Two of the men found guilty of the assassination of Malcolm X had their convictions thrown out on Thursday, the Manhattan district attorney, and lawyers for the two men said, according to the New York Times.

The stunning reversal recasts history and reopens the case of the slaying of Malcolm X, who died in a hail of gunfire at the old Audubon Theater in New York’s Harlem area.

The exoneration of the two men, Muhammad A. Aziz, and Khalil Islam, represents a “remarkable acknowledgment of grave errors made in a case of towering importance: the 1965 murder of one of America’s most influential Black leaders in the fight against racism,” the Times reported.

The newspaper noted that a 22-month investigation conducted jointly by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and lawyers for the two men found that prosecutors and two of the nation’s premier law enforcement agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department — had withheld key evidence that, had it been turned over, would likely have led to the men’s acquittal.

The two men, known at the time of the killing as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, spent decades in prison for the murder, which took place on Feb. 21, 1965, when three men opened fire inside a crowded ballroom at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan as Malcolm X was starting to speak.

Earlier this year, the civil rights leader’s daughters formally requested that authorities reopen the murder investigation because of new evidence.

“Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” said Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s six daughters.
Shabazz and her family cited a deathbed letter of confession from a man who was a policeman at the time of the 1965 killing, alleging New York police and the FBI conspired in the murder.
Raymond Wood wrote his responsibility was to ensure Malcolm X’s security team were arrested days before he was shot dead in Manhattan, the daughters stated.

The men convicted were all members of the Nation of Islam and were each sentenced to life in prison. At the time of his death, Malcolm X had separated himself from the Nation of Islam.
Assassins gunned him down at the age of 39.

COVID-19

As of November 18, 2021 at 10:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 841,483 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(1,530) more than last week with 16,043 deaths (62) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,297 confirmed cases, (4 more cases than last week), with 45 deaths

Sumter Co. had 1,368 cases with 40 deaths

Hale Co. had 3,161 cases with 89 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 18 and up.

Family Members and Authorities Desperately Search for two Alabama men missing in California

Prayer Vigil at the Old Greene County Courthouse Square
LaDexter Pelt and John DuBose Jr.,
Police in California and the Black and Missing Foundation seek assistance in locating two African American men from Alabama who went missing after they arrived in Sacramento on Friday, November 5.
Authorities said LaDexter Pelt, 25, of Greene County, Alabama, and John DuBose Jr., 20, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, boarded a flight after Pelt celebrated his birthday. LaDexter is the son of Eutaw City Councilwoman Tracy Hunter  who also works at Greene County High School as secretary.  
Sunday, November 14, 2021 a prayer vigil was held, drawing a large crowd.
Authorities said they know that the men arrived in California, but their whereabouts remain a mystery. Heightening the tension, a hunter found a cell phone that belongs to Dubose, and police said it last pinged in the Sutter Bypass Wildlife Area, an approximately 3,200-acre region that includes two long, narrow parcels on each side.
Police have searched the area and have reportedly questioned the hunter but have not developed any new leads.
“This is a case that we’re very much watching,” said Derrica Wilson, the co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, which has spotlighted the plight of missing people of color for 14 years.
Pelt’s mother, Tracy Hunter, has expressed her fears and pleaded for her son’s safe return.
“I have every reason to be concerned because my child would’ve called me by now,” a shaken Hunter told reporters.
“He let me know that he made it to Sacramento, California, and we said goodbye for now. And that was it,” Hunter said, adding that both her son’s and DuBose’s phones are now disconnected.
“This is totally out of the ordinary,” she asserted.
Authorities said Pelt has short, black hair. He has brown eyes, stands six feet tall, and weighs 220 pounds.
DuBose is 5’6 inches and weighs 140 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.
“LaDexter and John, if you are out there, please contact your family members,” Hunter said. “We are distraught; we are mentally exhausted. And as a mother, I am mentally torn and heartbroken.”
Anyone with information should contact the Sacramento Police Department at 916-808-5471 or the Greene County Sheriff’s Department at 205-372-3152.
Individuals can also call the Selma Police Department at 334-874-2137 or contact the Black and Missing Foundation at http://www.BAMFI.org.

School board reorganizes; hires high school principal, fails to select new CSFO

Ms. Andrea Perry
Kashaya Cockrell, Vice President and Dr. Carol Zippert, Board President

The Greene County Board of Education met in its regular session, Monday, November 15, 2021 with four board members present. Mrs. Veronica Richardson was absent due to family emergency. Since November is the appointed time to reorganize, selecting board officers and meeting logistics, the board carried out it duties in this regard. With board counsel, Attorney Hank Sanders conducting the procedures, Mr. Leo Branch offered a motion to retain the same board officers and Ms. Carrie Dancy seconded. Dr. Carol Zippert and Ms. Kashaya Cockrell were retained as Board President and Vice President respectively with a unanimous decision.
Seemingly, the board will continue to hold its monthly meetings on the third Monday of each month at 4:30 pm.
Among the personnel items was Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones’ recommendation to appoint Ms. Andrea Perry as Principal of Greene County High School. The board gave unanimous approval. Ms. Perry has been serving as interim principal since Nov. 1, 2021.
In a work session held earlier the day of the board meeting, the CSFO applicant finalists were invited to provide additional information to the board members, however, at the following board meeting, action on the CSFO position was tabled. No additional information has been made available.
In a meeting earlier this year, the school board voted to sell the Birdine School property to the Town of Forkland, which had made a request to purchase. The board’s decision was contingent on the State of Alabama conveying the property to the Greene County Board of Education. With that process completed, the board agreed to sell a portion of the Birdine School property, 10.3 acres to the Town of Forkland by Warranty Deed for the sum of $2,000 per acre or a total sum of $20,600.
In his report, Superintendent Jones stated that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) held a two-day review in the Greene County School System which resulted in five recommendations as follows: 1. Provide Professional Development to employees and students on the grievance process. 2. Convert one of the restrooms at the GCBOE to an unisex bathroom to accommodate a handicap accessible stall. 3. Raise the handicap signage to 6′ at the GCBOE. 4. Make a handicap accessible van parking at GCCC. If the recommendations (opportunities) are completed within 30 days, the district report will be free of citations. 5. Hard copy of Parent & Student Information Guide (provided onsite). It had been 28 years since OCR made a site visit to Greene County Schools.
In his maintenance update, Superintendent Jones reported that the sewer pump needed replacing at Greene County High. The estimated cost is $11,000 – $15,000. New doors for the Central Office have not arrived yet. Other repairs at the Central Office are completed, except for the final walk through by contractor and state officials.
Dr. Jones also gave an update on the Comer Capital Group that is working with the board on refinancing bonds relative to the Greene County High School. He stated that Comer Capital is soliciting underwriters which will be compiled and submitted to the board for final selection.
Other personnel items approved by the board included the following:
Employment – Wanda Gaitor, from 9 month employee to 10 month employee, secretary at Greene County High School; Anthony Atkins as custodian at Greene County Board.
Family Medical Leave – Montoya Binion, from August 10 to Nov. 1, 2021; Gloria McGhee, from Nov. 29 to Jan. 17, 2022.
Supplemental Contract – Cyonti Lewis as assistant girls basketball coach at Robert Brown Middle School.
Rescind – Supplemental contract for Elroy Skinner as assistant girls basketball coach for 2021-2022.
Other administrative items approved by the board included the following:
* Payment of all bills, claims and payroll.
* Memorandum of understanding between Greene County School board and West Alabama Mental Health Center.
* Increase girls basketball coach supplement to $3,200.

Newswire: UNESCO marks its 75th anniversary with an African spotlight

Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Ambassador


Nov. 15, 2021 (GIN) – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) marked its 75 anniversary with a star-studded cast of artists and world leaders. Among the participants was American actor Forest Whitaker, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation since 2011.
 
His organization, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI), works jointly with UNESCO in South Sudan, Uganda and Mexico – areas affected by conflict and violence. In 2012, the WPDI launched the Conflict Resolution Education program in the U.S.  In South Sudan, the WPDI trained former child soldiers and orphans to become peacemakers for their communities.
 
Speaking at a special ceremony, he challenged the listeners. “If you see the beauty of the people that lies in every individual, you will wonder how racism could ever exist,” he began. “If you see the beauty that lies in a vibrant school, you will wonder how could we not have education for all. If you see the beauty that lies in a live coral reef or an old forest you will wonder how could we not preserve that for our future generations?”
 
“If you see the beauty that lies in an old city, a sacred site, a cave painted 20,000 years ago you will wonder how could senseless destruction be waged on the heritage of any nation of people.”
 
Musicians who followed the speaker were American cellist Yo Yo Ma and Beninese singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, among others.
 
Another project of UNESCO, the Biennale of Luanda, will be celebrated this year under the African Union’s 2021 theme, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want” and is available virtually from the UNESCO website.
 
In a message shown during the event, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres observed that UNESCO “was born as a pillar of the United Nations system, in the wake of one of the darkest chapters in human history” – namely two world wars. A conviction was born that political and economic arrangements between States are not enough to build lasting peace.  
 
“Reconciliation and development require stronger foundations, deeply rooted in societal interactions, and built upon intellectual and moral solidarity”, the agency explains.
 
Working with a diverse set of partners, Mr. Guterres said, Unesco is forging a new social contract for education and lifelong learning. 
 
The agency is also developing new tools to combat hate speech and misinformation while launching flagship initiatives in Iraq and Lebanon, using education and heritage to heal and rebuild. 
 
The international body has 50 field offices and a world headquarters located at number 7, Place de Fontenoy in Paris, France.  Its General Conference, underway in Paris until 24 November, is also marking the anniversary with global recommendations on the ethics of artificial intelligence and on open science. 

 

 

 

Newswire: What HBCUs can learn from Howard University’s student protests

 Student Protestors rally at the Howard University

 

It’s time to hold Howard and other HBCUs accountable to serving their students to the best of their ability while also loving these institutions for what they symbolize and the excellence that they foster.

Written By ddooleyhbcu, NewsOne
The Blackburn protests are officially over after an announcement from Howard University confirmed that the students and institution have reached an agreement to hopefully settle the tensions. 
Howard students were demonstrating in and around the Blackburn University Center for more than a month to force the university to address major issues and provide a better living experience for the students on campus. 
Mold, rodents, leaky pipes and a lack of adequate WiFi to complete assignments are just some of the issues that have been voiced throughout this tumultuous time in the school’s history. Attorney Donald Temple told the Washington Post that the students he represents have “accomplished their objectives.” However, he kept the details of the agreement between the students and university confidential. 
Hopefully, today starts a new chapter for Howard University. While Howard students have led various protests for decades, this one felt a little bit different. 
The impact of this protest feels like it’s finally cut through the rose-colored perception of Howard that its administration has relied on for years to continue to attract students to “The Mecca.” If you’ve been in HBCU circles, you’ve heard the whisperings about the problems at Howard. But, for the most part, the culture at Howard was largely similar to most Black families: Problems exist, but they are expected to be kept in-house to maintain a unified public image for the community. 
For Howard and other HBCUs, this was a much-needed defense mechanism for decades because of the way white media would slant coverage toward these institutions and try to paint them as inadequate. Protecting their image at all costs wasn’t just for convenience, it was for survival. 
Yet, it’s clear now that the lines between protecting the institutions and neglecting the concerns of the individuals that make these places magical were being blurred. For the first time, I saw a mass of Howard students going to social media to basically denounce the university. The impacts of the pandemic altered the student experience at the school which undoubtedly increased the tensions and fervor of the protests. 
The protests generated national attention and saw civil rights activists such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. William Barber II and Martin Luther King III publicly support the students. Jackson even decided to spend time on campus to see what had transpired. Also for the last month, it seemed as if every time conversations about HBCUs came up in Black circles, “what’s wrong at Howard?” became a recurring topic. 
Granted, while Howard deserves fault in this debacle, a lot of this also centers on the racial wealth gap and how HBCUs have been consistently underfunded throughout their existence compared to predominantly white institutions. 
Now that the protests are seemingly over, we can address this situation with a sense of realism and honesty that will help uplift our storied institutions to be better. This doesn’t mean that every HBCU has major issues because that’s simply not correct. 
But what it does mean is that we can hold Howard and other HBCUs accountable to serving their students to the best of their abilities while also loving these institutions for what they symbolize and the excellence that they foster.

Newswire: Alabamians, Civil Rights groups launch legal challenges over Alabama racial gerrymandering 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Individual voters joined with civil rights and faith groups yesterday to file a pair of lawsuits in federal court challenging Alabama’s newly drawn political maps for state legislative and congressional districts.  This is the second major lawsuit questioning
The lawsuits cite Alabama’s “sordid record” of its white majority using racial discrimination to maintain power. The suits charge that the newly drawn congressional redistricting map denies Black residents equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of choice, and that both the congressional and state legislative maps result from racial gerrymanders that intentionally pack and crack Black communities in the state, which denies such communities equal protection of the laws. 
Because of this, the lawsuits describe how Alabama’s new district maps violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and how the congressional map also violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 
The cases were brought on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, and several individuals who are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Hogan Lovells LLP, and the firm Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher & Goldfarb.  
Plaintiffs are requesting a federal court step in to enjoin — or halt — the maps’ implementation to prevent harms to Black Alabamians. 
“By packing Black voters into a small number of districts and breaking up communities of color throughout the rest of the state, Alabama’s leaders are diminishing the political power of Black Alabamians. That is unlawful,” said Caren Short, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC, which represents plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the state legislative districts. “This builds on a long history of racial discrimination in voting in Alabama – particularly when drawing political districts – that demands a court-ordered redrawing of maps immediately.” 
New political maps are drawn as part of a once-in-a-decade redistricting process triggered by census data, that determine the allocation of political power, representation, and ultimately resource access at every level of government across the country for the next 10 years. 
“Cracking” refers to splitting communities of color into different districts to prevent them from exercising greater political power. “Packing” refers to placing people of color into the same district in greater numbers than necessary to elect candidates of choice to prevent them from exercising greater political power in surrounding districts. 
According to the lawsuits, Alabama’s steadfast refusal to address the rights of its Black residents is directly linked to its historical and present conditions of racial discrimination against Black people. 
In five of the six redistricting cycles since 1960, the U.S. Department of Justice or federal courts have found that Alabama’s legislative districts — congressional, state, or both — violate the rights of voters under the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act. 
“It is crucial that Black Alabamians have the opportunity to elect government officials we believe will best serve us,” said Benard Simelton, President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, a plaintiff in both cases filed today. “Although no longer controlled by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Alabama is still required to provide Black Alabamians that opportunity – these maps attempting to rob our state of its diversity notwithstanding. We will continue this fight for our dignity and political voice, as we long have, in the courts.” 
Again, in this latest round of drawing political districts, Alabamians had no access to potential maps during the so-called “community input” process that predated the special legislative session. Legislative leaders drew political maps in secret, and at the 11th hour, presented the maps challenged today that use race as a predominant factor in determining district lines – but not in a way tailored to comply with the Voting Rights Act. 
“I have lived most of my life in Montgomery,” said plaintiff in both lawsuits filed today Evan Milligan. “On more than one occasion, the people in these communities have dramatically impacted the course of this nation’s history – particularly as to civil and human rights…Even with the extended time provided by the delayed release of census data, our Legislature failed to study racially polarized voting so that their map-making decisions could be guided by an interest in protecting the civil rights of Alabama’s nonwhite voters.” 
The cases are Thomas v. Merrill and Milligan v. Merrill.  
To view a version of this release in full – including additional statements from plaintiffs and representatives from other counsel – please visit:
https://www.splcenter.org/presscenter/alabamians-civil-rights-groups-launch-legal-challenges-over-alabama-racial
Thomas v. Merrill complaint challenging state legislative maps: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/complaint_-_thomas_v._merrill.pdf

Milligan v. Merrill complaint challenging congressional maps: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/complaint_-_milligan_v._merrill.pdf