50th anniversary of “Greene County Freedom Day – July 29, 1969” coming July 27 and 28, 2019

Greene County Candidates L to R: front row Vassie Knott, Levi Morrow back row-Hines, Means, Burton and William Branch, County Co- Chairman. ( Posey is not in the picture.)

Spiver Gordon, President of the Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement, announced that there will be a two-day program on July 27 and 28, 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the special election on July 29, 1969, which elected Black officials to the Greene County Commission and School Board.
“This is a two day celebration of 50 years of voting rights, democracy, justice and unity for all people in Greene County, Alabama. We invite everyone, Black and White, Hispanics, Asians and Native peoples from Greene County and around the state and nation to attend. This is a celebration of what is good and positive in Greene County.
“We need and challenge all community and business leaders – Black and White – to attend. This is an opportunity to honor grassroots community leaders who had the courage to believe they could change and make this community a better place to live, work and worship.

We have made a half century of progress but with full participation and unity the next fifty years will be easier and more productive for all,” said Gordon.
On Saturday, July 27, 2019 from 9:00 AM to Noon, three historic monuments will be unveiled and dedicated in Eutaw:
• the first will be at Carver School, now the Robert H. Cook Community Center, to honor students who boycotted schools in 1965 and started the civil rights and voting rights struggles and movement in Greene County.

• the second monument will be in front of the home of Anne Thomas and Rosie Carpenter, on Highway 14, where strategy sessions were held for the civil rights movement from the 1960’s into the 1990’s.

• the third monument will be placed at the Robert Brown Middle School, formerly Greene County High School to honor Black students who integrated the public schools of Greene County in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
“We hope these monuments will stand for a long time and be a beacon of light for our children and our children’s children, as they travel to and through Greene County. These monuments show the ‘peoples history of our county’ and many names of those living and deceased are on these markers,” said Lester Cotton, 2nd Vice President of the Movement Museum.
On Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 6:00 PM, at the Eutaw Activity Center, there will be a banquet honoring the foot soldiers who participated in the civil rights and voting rights movement of the 1960’s in Greene County. Among the living leaders who participated in the struggle, who have agreed to attend are: Rosie Carpenter (who now lives in Bowie, Maryland), Bill Edwards (Portland, OR), Atty. Sheryl Cashin (daughter of John Cashin from Washington, D. C.) Fred Taylor, Tyrone Brooks, and Dexter Wimbush (Georgia), Wendell H. Paris (Jackson, MS), Judge John England, Hank Sanders, Sen. Bobby Singleton and many other dignitaries.
On Sunday July 28, 2019, at 4:00 PM there will be a Freedom Rally, honoring the fallen Black political leaders of Greene County, at the William M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw. The rally will be followed by a fish-fry and watermelon eating fellowship meeting on the grounds of the old Courthouse in Eutaw.
For more information and to support the Freedom Day 50th anniversary celebration, contact: Spiver Gordon, Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement, Inc., P. O. Box 385, Eutaw, Alabama 35462; phone 205-372-3446;
email: spiverwgordon@hotmail.com.

Eutaw City Council holds special meeting to approve transfer of bingo funds to meet immediate bills

Chief Derick Coleman with new police officer Derrick Carter

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

The Eutaw City Council held a special called meeting on Monday night, July 15, 2019, to approve transferring $70,000 of bingo funds in a Capital Improvement Fund to meet immediate outstanding bills critical to keep the city operating.
This decision came against a backdrop of long-standing arguments over city finances between Mayor Steele and councilmembers. Council members: LaJeffrey Carpenter, Latasha Johnson and Sheila Smith have requested a budget, a meaningful plan for using city funds to cover routine and extraordinary city expenses. Councilman Joe Lee Powell sometimes joins this group especially when needed expenditures concern his district. Councilman Benny Abrams has generally voted with the Mayor.
About three months ago, the City Council in an unprecedented action removed Mayor Steele as a signatory on most city accounts and left the payment of bills to Councilmen Carpenter and Powell. These council members, aided by City Clerk, Kathy Bir have prioritized and paid the bills as best they could. The City has a list of accounts payable between $200,000 and $300,000, which were presented to the Council in the past few meetings.Councilwoman Sheila Smith points out that there are problems in the City Water Department with billing. The City sends out bills for a combination of water, sewer and garbage services. The amount of revenue coming in is not sufficient to pay the expenses for these services. Some people have received minimum water bills for months even though they know that they are using substantial amounts of water.
There seems to be a disconnect in the computer softwear used to read the new digital water meters and the printing of bills. The City has called the Alabama Rural Water Association to help diagnose and solve these water billing problems but progress in resolving the issues is slow. The Mayor insists that all problems with the new digital, self-reading meters have been resolved but the continuing dilemma of low revenues from the water, sewer and garbage fees suggests that problems remain.
Mayor Steele called Monday’s special meeting to transfer funds from the City Capital Improvement Account and from the
Special Fund for repair roads in Branch Heights to pay the current backlog of bills. Mayor Steele insisted, “ We are endangering the lives of city residents by not paying these bills. Our wifi communications have been turned off for non-payment of bills, which means our police cannot write tickets and check driver’s identities. We are not able to put chlorine in the water and people may die. We are not doing things required by state statutes.”
The Mayor asked to transfer funds from the current Capital Improvement Account, which has a balance of $70,312 and the Special Fund for Branch Heights Roads, which has a balance of $577,000 to pay outstanding bills.
A motion was made to transfer funds in the Capital Improvement Account and put the bingo funds flowing in to this account for the next six months into the General Fund to pay bills. The Council also wants to have a discussion with the Sheriff about using funds from the Special Funds for Branch Heights Roads for paying bills. The Mayor used half a million dollars in the 7 cent Highway Fund to pay for resurfacing the Branch Heights Roads, so he feels that Sheriff Benison should release funds in the Special Account for the city to pay its bills.
As soon as the motion was passed, the Mayor adjourned the meeting. This reporter had to jump up and ask that the figures be clarified so that the public would know how their monies were being spent. No figures on the funds to be transferred were used in the discussion or motion. You are seeing figures in this story that the newspaper had to beg for and pry out of the Mayor and city officials.
$70,000 of Capital Improvement funds will be transferred immediately to pay pressing bills. This fund receives $4,500 each month in bingo funds from Greenetrack, Rivers Edge and Frontier bingos, which totals $13,500. Prior to the closing of Greene Charity, there was another $4,500 a month flowing into this account. $13,500 for the month of June is still pending and expected for this account that may be used to pay bills.
Another $27,000 a month of bingo funds from the Palace is paid into the Special Fund set up by the Sheriff for Branch Heights Roads. Some councilmembers argue that these funds are needed for roadwork in King Village and other multi-family housing complexes.
In the July 9, 2019, regular City Council meeting, the Council:
• Approved ordinances to allow for Sunday liquor sales and clarifying the sale of wine in Eutaw; the ordinances will go into affect after they are published one time in the newspaper;
• Approved travel for the City Clerk and administrative assistant for training;
• Authorized the Mayor to pursue FEMA funding for repair of culverts throughout the city that have been damaged by recent heavy rains. 75% of these repairs are paid by FEMA, 12.5% by the State of Alabama and 12.5% are a local matching contribution.
Police Chief Derick Coleman introduced a new part time police officer, Derrick Carter. The Chief indicated that this hire would bring the force to seven full time and three part time officers.

Newswire : Kenyan environmentalists defeat Chinese plan to build coal fired energy plant in Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Protestors in Kenya oppose coal fired energy plant in Lamu

July 15, 2019 (GIN) – Kenyan environmentalists are cheering a major victory against a proposed coal-fired plant near the coastal town of Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The win capped a three year fight against a well-funded effort by a Chinese-Kenyan consortium to build a 1,000 watt power plant on Kenya’s unspoiled northern coast.

Save Lamu, a local activist group, kept up the fight despite government agencies repeatedly rejecting their claims that the plant would not only pollute the air but also damage the fragile marine ecosystem and devastate the livelihoods of fishing communities.

The plant would also devastate Lamu, a historic and idyllic archipelago in the country’s northeast and the oldest and best-preserved example of a Swahili settlement in East Africa, the group maintained.

“We totally reject the Lamu coal project or the other so-called clean coal which are unrealistic and aggravate the destruction of nature. Instead, we advocate for renewable energy initiatives led and managed by local communities,” argued Wahlid Ahmed, a Mandela Washington Fellow and the founder of the Lamu Youth Alliance.

“There is no such thing as clean coal,” underscored Landry Ninterestse of 350Africa.org. “Coal is dirty energy. We strongly campaign against any plans to build a coal plant in Lamu and every else on the continent. We have seen the degree of damages induced by coal on communities and the environment in countries such as South Africa. We are convinced that we have to keep coal and all forms of fossil fuels in ground.”

The project was another example of Beijing’s efforts to develop coal-fired plants overseas, even in some countries that today burn little or no coal. Worse yet, the coal intended for use – from South Africa and Kitui in Kenya – is bituminous which burns poorly and has particularly high levels of pollutants.

Four Chinese companies were involved in the project. The United States also supported it, with U.S. energy firm GE promising to inject US$400 million for a 20 per cent stake in Amu Power, the operating company.

While the latest verdict delays the coal plant’s development, it doesn’t put an end to it. The consortium can still apply for a new license or appeal the decision within the next month. For now, though, local communities are celebrating the win.

Newswire : Tennessee Governor honors Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of the Klu Klux Klan

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

Painting of Civil War battle of Fort Pillow, where Black troops were massacred; Photo of Nathan Bedford Forrest

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee proclaimed Saturday, July 13, a day of honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest the Confederate General who ordered the massacre of Black Union troops who tried to surrender during Civil War battle at Fort Pillow.

Confederate soldiers under Forrest’s command killed an estimated 200 to 300 Black soldiers, many of them former slaves, during the battle of Fort Pillow in Henning, Tennessee, which occurred on April 12, 1864. The Union troops surrendered and should have been taken as prisoners of war, but Forrest ordered all them killed.

The massacre angered the North, and Northern politicians refused to participate in further prisoner exchanges. Forrest claimed his men didn’t do anything wrong.

At the end of the Civil War, after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, VA, General Forrest had his troops camped in the Black Belt areas of west Alabama. There is a monument commemorating the dissolution of the Confederate troops in Gainesville, Alabama (Sumter County) several months after Lee’s surrender.

After the Civil War, Forrest returned to his home in Pulaski, Tennesse and organized the Klu Klux Klan. From 1867 to 1869, Forrest was the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, a white terrorist organization, opposed to reconstruction.

Forrest died in 1877, but his name surfaced again in the 1994 hit movie “Forrest Gump,” starring Tom Hanks and Sally Field. Field, who played Hanks’ mother, named him in honor of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Gov. Lee’s proclamation makes no mention of Forrest’s key role in the creation of the KKK, nor does the declaration make mention of the fact that Forrest was a traitor who betrayed his country in the name of racism.

Instead, the proclamation only refers to Forrest as a “recognized military figure in American history and a native Tennessean.” Gov. Lee claimed he signed the proclamation honoring Forrest, who was also a slaveholder, because state law required him to.

A statue of Forrest, flanked by Confederate Battle Flags, is located in Nashville, the state capital.

Newswire: Will White House Advisory Council act to end America’s affordable housing crisis?

        NEWS ANALYSIS By: Charlene Crowell
Ta-Nehisi Coates

TriceEdneyWire.com) – Nearly 90 years ago, Kelly Miller (1863-1939), a Black sociologist and mathematician, said, “The Negro is up against the white man’s standard, without the white man’s opportunity.” As the first Black man to enroll as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University in 1908, Miller also authored a book entitled Race Adjustment, published in 1908.

Ironically, despite the passage of time, Miller’s words express the same sentiment held today by many Black Americans. As a people and across succeeding generations, we have held fast to our hopes for a better life. Yet it is painfully true that many opportunities enjoyed by other Americans have been elusive for people of color.

Noted author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates expressed a similar view during his June 19 Capitol Hill testimony on reparations.

“Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores,” noted Coates. “When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—to all, regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.”

While economists, public policy think tanks and other entities may sing a chorus of how well the American economy is performing and expanding, people of color – especially Blacks and Browns – have yet to see or feel economic vibrancy in our own lives – particularly when it comes to housing and homeownership.

On June 25, Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) released its annual report, The State of the Nation’s Housing. One of the housing industry’s most broadly anticipated and cited reports, it once again chronicles recent trends and issues.

“The limited supply of smaller, more affordable homes in the face of rising demand suggests that the rising land costs and the difficult development environment make it unprofitable to build for the middle market,” said Chris Herbert, JCHS’s managing director.

Among this year’s key findings:

Since 2018, the monthly housing payment on a median-priced home has been $1,775;

In 2019, the cost of a median-priced home rose by 4% to $261,600 when a comparable home in 2011 was priced far lower at $177,400.

This rise in home prices is also the seventh straight year that median household incomes have failed to keep pace in 85 of the nation’s largest 100 markets.

Nearly $52,000 would be required to make a 20% down payment on a median priced home. Even if buyers opted for an FHA 3.5 percent down payment mortgage, more than $9,000 would be needed to pay it, closing costs, and related fees;

In rental housing, four million units of housing priced at $800 or less were lost between 2011 and 2019. Also, since 2010, renters now include consumers earning $75,000 or more.

Families who already own their own homes, these findings signal that their investments are appreciating, growing in equity and wealth.

But for those trying to make that important transition from renting to owning, it’s a very different outlook. As rental prices continue to soar and moderately priced apartments disappear from the marketplace, both prospective homeowners and current renters face a shrinking supply of affordable housing.

When homeownership is possible, housing costs can be better contained with fixed-interest rate mortgages, tax credits, and eventual equity. Even so, the Harvard report finds that only 36 percent of all consumers could afford to buy their own home in 2018. With higher priced homes in 2019, the affordability challenge worsens.

“It is equally noteworthy that once again this key report shares how consumers of color continue to face challenges in becoming homeowners, noted Nikitra Bailey, an EVP with the Center for Responsible Lending. “According to the report, only 43 percent of Blacks and 47% of Latinx own their own home, while white homeownership remains at 73 percent.

“This 30% disparity deserves further examination and proportional remedies,” continued Bailey. “Greater access to safe and affordable credit, better fair housing enforcement, preservation of anti-discrimination laws – including disparate impact – can play a role in eliminating homeownership gaps. Further, as the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are publicly debated, a renewed commitment to serve all creditworthy borrowers must be embraced.”

Calvin Schermerhorn, a professor of history in Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and author of The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860, holds similar views to those expressed by Bailey. In a recent Washington Post op ed column, Schermerhorn addressed the historic disparities that Black America continues to suffer.

“One-fifth of African American families have a net worth of $0 or below; 75 percent have less than $10,000 for retirement,” wrote Schermerhorn. “The enduring barriers to black economic equality are structural rather than individual…. “Escalators into the middle class have slowed and stalled, and the rung of the economic ladder one starts on is most likely where one will end up.”
On the same day as the Harvard report’s release, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that establishes a new advisory body that will be led by HUD Secretary Ben Carson. A total of eight federal agencies will work with state and local government officials to remove “burdensome governmental regulations” affecting affordable housing.

“Increasing the supply of housing by removing overly burdensome rules and regulations will reduce housing costs, boost economic growth, and provide more Americans with opportunities for economic mobility,” stated Secretary Carson.

If Secretary Carson means that local zoning rules favor single family homes over multi-family developments is a fundamental public policy flaw, he may be on to something. However this focus misses the crux of the affordable housing crisis: Wages are not rising in line with increasing housing costs. And now, after the housing industry continues to cater to more affluent consumers, while many older adults choose to age in place, the market has very little to offer those who want their own American Dream, including some who are anxiously awaiting the chance to form their own households.

Builders have historically, not just of late, complained about the time it takes to secure permits or the series of inspections that must be approved during construction and before properties can be listed for sale. What is missing from this new initiative is a solution to the financial challenges that average people face.

It was scant regulation and regulatory voids that enabled risky mortgage products with questionable terms that took our national economy to the brink of financial collapse with worldwide effects. Taxpayer dollars to rescue financiers while many unnecessary foreclosures stripped away home equity and wealth from working families.

Time will tell whether new advisors and proposals remember the lessons from the Great Recession.

Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached atCharlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Newswire: The historic Chicago Defender among Black media icons scaling back, others possibly closing

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Richmond Free Press

Front page of Chicago Defender


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – It has been a rough few days for the Black media.
First, Ebony magazine and its sister publication, JET magazine, may be closing their doors for good.
And then the publisher of the storied Chicago Defender newspaper announced last week that it will no longer publish a print version.
In announcing the move to digital-only beginning Thursday, July 11, Real Times Media CEO Hiram E. Jackson said last Friday that the newspaper has made significant investment in digital media because of changes in the publishing landscape.
Jackson noted the Defender currently prints 16,000 newspapers. He said the newspaper reaches at least 10 times more people on its digital platform.
Jackson said Real Times’ other newspapers, the Michigan Chronicle and the New Pittsburgh Courier, will continue to offer a print version.
The newspaper was founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott and reached the peak of its influence at mid-century when it was a frequent critic of racial inequities in the nation’s Southern states.
The Defender delivered news of monumental events — the funeral of Emmett Till, the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the election of President Obama — but also of everyday life for Black Americans.
Jackson said the decision was an economic one. Newspapers throughout the industry have seen a decline in print advertising and readers turning to the internet.
Black newspapers often are an afterthought when it comes to advertising dollars, Jean Patterson Boone, publisher of the Richmond Free Press told the New York Times.
Regardless of the financial challenges, the Richmond Free Press, which has a weekly circulation of 35,000 and a draw of around 130,000 readers, has no intention of going the way of The Defender and eliminating its print edition.
“We’re a miracle,” Mrs. Boone told the New York Times. “We are a miracle and most black newspapers
are a miracle.”
The National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade organization for African-American-owned newspapers, currently counts 218 such publications across 40 states that attract 22.2 million readers between print and online each week.
Although the country may look different now, the enduring challenges of racism make the black press just as essential now, said Benjamin Chavis Jr., NNPA’s president and chief executive. The Greene County Democrat, weekly newspaper is a
Member of the NNPA.
As for Ebony and JET, former employees of the company took to Twitter last week using the hashtag #EbonyOwes to air their frustrations with the company, as it has fired all of its employees with little to no notice.
According to USA Today, members of Ebony magazine’s digital team say they’ve been fired and haven’t received their final paychecks in the latest controversy to hit the struggling publication that has chronicled black life in America for decades.
Michael Gibson, co-chairman and founder of Austin, Texas-based Clear View Group, which owns Ebony, declined to comment to USA TODAY on the digital team’s dismissal, citing a “policy of not commenting on any employment practices or issues.”
The Chicago Tribune previously reported how Ebony was being pressed by the National Writers Union to pay more than $200,000 it alleged the magazine owed to freelance writers who contributed stories back in 2017. The drama sparked the hashtag #EbonyOwes on Twitter.
According to a report on Ebony.com, the magazine’s previous owner, Johnson Publishing Co., filed for bankruptcy liquidation in April, which Ebony said would not affect its operations.
“EBONY Media Operations, LLC brands, which include EBONY magazine, EBONY.com, digital magazine JET and jetmag.com and its related businesses, have viably operated independently of Johnson Publishing Company dba/ Fashion Fair Cosmetics (JPC) since Black-owned Ebony Media Operations, LLC (EMO) purchased the media assets of JPC in 2016. Black-owned investment firm CVG Group LLC assisted in the formation of EMO,” a statement read. “EMO is unaffected by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy announcement regarding the dissolution of JPC. EMO is not able to comment further and is not familiar with the facts or events of the JPC business.”
The first issue of the iconic magazine hit stands 74 years ago and took the industry by storm. Founded by John H. Johnson in November 1945, the black-owned publication has always strived to address African-American issues, personalities and interests in a positive and self-affirming manner.
Timeless editions of Ebony featured some of the biggest stars in black America, including issues covered by Diana Ross, Sidney Poitier, as well as President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama.

Newswire: Trump levels racist attack on Congresswomen of Color in latest social media screed

By Lauren Victory Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Four Congresswomen: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).


President Donald Trump went on a racist screed on Twitter and attacked Democratic congresswomen of color and their ancestry. The 45th President, who succeeded the first African American President of the United States, Barack Obama, has often attacked Black female elected officials, such as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Black athletes, immigrants, and other women of color.
As is his general habit, Trump lies in his communications and brands places where people of color reside as dangerous. President Trump has a long history of racism as does his late father, Fred Trump. Fred Trump was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens, New York on May 30, 1927 when he was 21.
Their company, Trump Properties, was sued by the Justice Department for housing discrimination against Blacks in 1973. On May 1, 1989, Donald Trump took out ads in several of New York’s major newspapers demanding that the Central Park Five be given the death penalty. Even though the five have been exonerated, Trump has never admitted he was wrong or apologized.
A hint of Trump’s racist views now on international display in The White House, was seen in 1989 as Trump linked the Central Park Five case to an overall decline in society.
“At what point did we cross the line from the fine and noble pursuit of genuine civil liberties to the reckless and dangerously permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman and laugh at her family’s anguish? And why do they laugh? The laugh because they know that soon, very soon, they will be returned to the street to rape and maim and kill once again,” Trump said in a 1989 interview.
On July 14, 2019, Trump wrote, “So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly……” read one communication on Twitter the morning of July 14.
Consistent with his racist attacks and communications both verbal and on social media, President Trump attacked three Congresswomen of color who have gained national prominence as they oppose Trump’s policies: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
Trump implied in a series of consecutive messages on Twitter on July 14 that the Congresswomen weren’t born in the United States and added, “they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Rep. Illan was born in Somalia and her family arrived in New York on 1992 and secured asylum in the U.S. in 1995. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx, New York and Rep. Pressley was born in Chicago, Ill. Another Congresswoman Trump has attacked before, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), was born in Detroit, Michigan.
Though Trump did not name who specifically he was referring to, the context of his communication on Twitter was clear to political observers. Earlier in July, Trump referenced the three women. All three, as well as many other members, have been outspoken about Trump’s immigration policies.
The conditions of detention facilities at the Mexican border came into stark light after Vice President Pence visited a center on June 12. Video from the visit showed a large group of Mexican men grouped in a fenced in enclosure with no cots, food and few signs of running water or other basic needs.
Trump’s direct messages or racism and xenophobia to his base have increased as the 2020 presidential campaign gets fully underway. The Iowa Caucuses are 203 days away as of July 14.


Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke

Two-day celebration planned for 50th anniversary of ‘Greene Co. Freedom Day’, July 29, 1969, when Black people were elected to take control of county government

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.)
Packed courtroom on hand for the oath taking ceremony for Greene County Commissioners and school board members listened intently as Circuit Court Judge Emmett Hildreth read a six page speech in which he lists achievements of past administrations and county bank balance. Newly elected Black officials were joined by fifth commissioner, Dennis Herndon, Probate Judge and other school board members in 1969. ( AFRO Staff Photos  By Irving H. Phillips of The Afro- American Newspaper in Baltimore MD.)

Special to the
Democrat by: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

“We will be holding a two day celebration of the 50th anniversary of Greene County Freedom Day – July 29, 1969 – when a Special Election was held in the county that elected the first four Black County Commissioners and two additional Black school board members, which gave Black people control of the major agencies of government,” said Spiver W. Gordon, President of the Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement in Eutaw, Alabama.
This special election in the summer of 1969 was ordered by the United States Supreme Court when the names of Black candidates, running on the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA), were deliberately left off the November 1968 General Election ballot by the ruling white political officials of the time. The special election of July 29, 1969 allowed Black voters, many newly registered under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, who were the majority in Greene County to have their say in a free and democratic election.
This was a historic event, which heralded a change in political power across the Alabama Black Belt and began a generational shift in the political power in Greene County that has continued for fifty years.
“As part of our commemorative celebration on the weekend of July 27 and 28, 2019, we will be unveiling and dedicating three monuments with the names of the ordinary people who made extraordinary contributions to changing the history of Greene County, the Alabama Black Belt, the South and the nation,” said Gordon.
The three monuments will be dedicated on Saturday morning, July 27, 2019 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon.
The first monument will be for the Carver High School Class of 1965 and other Greene County school students, who boycotted classes and closed the schools to demonstrate against segregated schools and unacceptable civil rights conditions in Greene County at that time. The Class of 1965 closed the schools for the remainder of the spring 1965 semester and there was no formal graduation that year. Many of the students received a “Freedom Diploma” signed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph D. Abernathy and James Orange, at Brown’s Chapel Church in Selma, Alabama later in the summer.
The monument at the former Carver High School, now the Robert H. Cook Community Center, features the names of over 120 young people that took part in the school boycott and demonstrations of 1965, which led to the voting rights and election struggles later in that decade.
The second monument will be placed in front of ‘The Freedom House’, home of the late Annie Thomas and Rosie Carpenter on Highway 14 in Eutaw. These two courageous sisters, one a businesswoman and the other a school teacher, allowed their home to be used, starting in the 1960’s and continuing into the 1990’s for strategy sessions and political action planning meetings related to the civil and voting rights struggles of Greene County.
The third monument to be placed in front of the current Robert Brown Middle School and former Greene County High School site, to honor the young African-American students who first integrated the schools of Greene County in the 1960’s. The names of 45 or more persons are on this marker.
On Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 6:00 PM there will be a banquet honoring the foot soldiers who participated in the civil rights and voting rights movement of the 1960’s in Greene County. Among the living leaders who participated in the struggle, who have agreed to attend are: Rosie Carpenter (who now lives in Bowie, Maryland), Bill Edwards (Portland, OR), Atty. Sheryl Cashin (daughter of John Cashin from Washington, D. C.) Fred Taylor, Tyrone Brooks, and Dexter Wimbush (Georgia), Wendell H. Paris (Jackson, MS), Judge John England, Hank Sanders, Sen. Bobby Singleton and many other dignitaries.
On Sunday July 28, 2019, at 4:00 PM there will be a Freedom Rally, honoring the fallen Black political leaders of Greene County, at the William M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw.
The rally will be followed by a fish-fry and watermelon eating fellowship meeting on the grounds of the old Courthouse in Eutaw.
For more information and to support the Freedom Day 50th anniversary celebration, contact: Spiver Gordon, Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement, Inc., P. O. Box 385, Eutaw, Alabama 35462; phone 205-372-3446;
email:
spiverwgordon@
hotmail.com

Newswire : West Africa inequality crisis called extreme in new report

African goat herder

July 8, 2019 (GIN) – “Inequality has reached extreme levels in West Africa, and today the wealthiest 1 per cent of West Africans own more than everyone else in the region combined.”
That was the finding in a new report published by Oxfam and Development Finance International.

According to the “West Africa Inequality Crisis” report, six of the ten fastest-growing economies in Africa were in West Africa, with Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal among the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies.

“In most countries the benefits of this unprecedented economic growth have gone to a tiny few,” the report said.

The report said the vast majority of West Africans were “denied the most essential elements of a dignified life, such as quality education, healthcare and decent jobs”.

While West Africa suffers the most inequalities on the continent, many governments prefer to ignore problems despite economic growth, the report said.

In Nigeria, for example, the wealth of the five richest Nigerian men combined stands at US$29.9 billion – more than the country’s entire budget in 2017, the report said.

Rather than tackle inequality, some of the region’s governments were underfunding public services, such as health and education, and failing to tackle corruption, Oxfam’s regional director Adama Coulibaly said.

The report called on governments to do more to promote progressive taxation, boost social spending, strengthen labor market protection, invest in agriculture and strengthen land rights for smallholders.

For example, it said the region loses an estimated US$9.6 billion annually because of corporate tax incentives offered by governments to attract investors.

But not all governments were tackling inequality the same way. Cape Verde, Mauritania and Senegal were among the most committed to reducing inequalities, it said, while Nigeria, Niger and Sierra Leone were among the least.

Newswire : Why nearly 350,000 workers in mostly red states aren’t seeing wage increases, even though their local lawmakers passed them

Bettie Douglas, McDonalds worker in St. Louis

By Tracy Jan, The Washington Post

     For most of her 13 years working the grill and cash register at McDonald’s, Bettie Douglas earned just over $7 an hour. Then in 2017, the St. Louis resident’s hourly pay rose to $10 after the city increased its minimum wage.
     But the Missouri legislature soon invalidated the local wage ordinancefollowing opposition from business groups, despite the state Supreme Court having already upheld the increase. Pay for tens of thousands of low-wage workers in St. Louis reverted to the state’s then-minimum of $7.70 an hour.
     Missouri is among 25 states that expressly block local municipalities from adopting their own minimum-wage laws. State legislatures in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Wisconsin have also invalidated local wage increases, costing nearly 350,000 workers a total of $1.5 billion per year, according to a new studyby the National Employment Law Project that quantifies for the first time the economic impact of prohibiting local wage increases.
     State laws preempting or nullifying higher local wages perpetuate economic inequality in American cities, hurting women and minority workers who are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs, researchers say. More than 60 percent of affected workers affected in St. Louis, Birmingham and Miami Beach are people of color, according to the study.
     “Missouri was one of the most egregious examples of an overwhelmingly white legislatureundoing the will of local communities,” said Laura Huizar, a senior staff attorney for NELP and co-author of the report. “Preemption has been used as a tool to undermine higher wages, protect corporate profits, and cancel the voices of blacks and Latinos.”
     In addition to invalidating the local pay increases in St. Louis and Kansas City, the Missouri lawblocked the introduction of new employment benefit requirements such as paid sick leave and health, disability and retirement benefits. The St. Louis minimum wage had been scheduled to rise to $11 an hour by 2018. Kansas City’s was supposed to go up to $13 by 2020.
     On average, workers in the 12 municipalities where wage increases were overturned by state legislatures are losing almost $4,100 individually per year, the study found. Between 20 and 71 percent of the affected workers in these cities and counties live below the federal poverty line.
     Despite the strong economy and historically low unemployment rates, real wages for the majority of workers have flatlined over the past decade. Since the “Fight for $15” minimum-wage movement began in 2012, more than 40 cities and counties have passed laws raising the local wage floor — leading to a corporate-fueled backlash in many legislatures, Huizar said. Minimum-wage increases in 20 municipalities, including Washington, D.C., and two states went into effect July 1.
     Douglas, the McDonald’s worker in St. Louis, is the sole breadwinner in her family. At 61, she’s supporting her eldest son, who is recovering from a brain tumor; her youngest son, who has autism; and her brother, who is disabled. Each weekday morning, she catches two buses and a train to work because she cannot afford a car.
     “       Anybody earning a living wage to take care of their families and pay their bills,” said Douglas, who began working at age 12 in her parents’ janitorial business. “I’m not asking for a handout. I’m saying just give me my due.”
     Douglas said her boss at the fast-food restaurant allowed her to keep her $10 hourly wage as a recognition of her long service, but many of her colleagues lost their raises.
     Still, she said she has no health insurance, no paid vacations or sick leave, and no retirement benefits. She said she hasn’t been to a doctor in the 18 years since she gave birth to her youngest son.

Missouri voters last fall approved a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage from $8.60 to $12 an hour by 2023. Douglas says she’s fighting for $15, which still falls short of the $16.32 hourly wage required for a single adult in St. Louis to meet his or her basic needs — let alone the $18.99 required for a family of four.
“We are all just one paycheck away from being homeless,” Douglas said. “No one in America should live like that.”