Greene County Commission holds organizational meeting

Corey Cockrell

Garria Spencer

The newly elected Greene County Commission met on November 16, 2022, at the William M. Branch Courthouse for its organizational meeting.
All commissioners were present, including Garria Spencer-District 1, Tennyson Smith-District 2, Corey Cockrell – District 3, Allen Turner – District 4 and Roshanda Summerville – District 5.

Allen Turner, the current Commission Chair turned over the meeting to the attorney to conduct the election for officers. Spencer nominated Tennyson Smith and Summerville nominated Corey Cockrell for Chairperson of the Commission. Corey Cockrell was selected Chair by three votes (Summerville, Cockrell and Turner) to two votes for Smith.

For Vice Chair, Spencer and Summerville were nominated. Garria Spencer received three votes (Smith, Spencer, and Turner) to two votes for Summerville, and was elected Vice Chair. Committees will remain the same, although Turner and Cockrell will switch out their committee assignments.

The Commission agreed to meet on the second Monday of each month at 5:00PM and to hold a work session to hear reports and develop the Commission meeting agenda on the Wednesday, before the second Monday at 5:00 PM. The group agreed to use Robert’s Rules of Order to conduct business.

The Commission will maintain bank accounts with Citizens Trust Bank and Merchants and Farmers Bank, with the Chair, Vice-Chair, CFO-Mac Underwood and County Administrator, Brenda Burke as signatories.

Mac Underwood gave a financial report for the Commission as of October 31, 2022, the first month of the fiscal year, 2022-23. The report showed $6.9 million in Citizens Trust Bank and $3.9 million in Merchants and Farmers, and $872,063 in Bond Sinking Funds. Commissioner Turner asked the CFO to distinguish between restricted and unrestricted funds so that the Commissioners and the public will know that all these funds are not available for discretionary expenditure and only a small amount of funds are not budgeted or required to be spent for specific purposes.

The report also showed that the County Commission spent $1,241,663 for operations during October including $703,850 for Rebuild Alabama road and bridges expenses paid by the State of Alabama. The expenditure report showed the county general fund and agencies had remaining funds in their budget within the range of 90 to 96%, which means that their spending was in conformity with the budget, that allows for 92% of funds to remain for use later in the fiscal year.

In the Public Comments section of the meeting, Mrs. Marilyn Gibson, the Chief Librarian, requested assistance from the Commission to fix a leaking roof, which was endangering the books in the library. “The Commission covers the expenses of the library, including insurance. We had the insurance adjusters to come and look at the damages, but we have not received the report, and we need to fix the roof,” said Ms. Gibson.

Carrie Logan, representing the Eutaw Chamber of Commerce said that the Chamber had secured the Stillman College Band for the Eutaw Christmas parade, however $1,600 was needed to pay for three buses to transport the band members to march and play in the parade. Logan asked for assistance from the Commission toward this expense.

Joe Powell, Chair of the Greene County EMS Board, thanked the Commission for helping the ambulance service meet its financial obligations, including payroll, for the past three months. Powell asked the Commission to attend a meeting with the municipalities and other agencies seeking the long-term viability of the ambulance service for Greene County.

Eutaw holds ‘State of the City’ luncheon

Mayor Latasha Johnson, the Eutaw City Council and the city staff held the second annual ‘State of the City’ luncheon on November 16, 2022, at the Robert H. Young Community Center.

The mayor distributed a printed report on their challenges and successes during the past year.

In her talk, Mayor Johnson highlighted:

• The City has a budget for the second year in a row; this year’s budget has a General Fund with over $3 million in projected revenues and $5 million in total revenues, which are records.

• The City for the fiscal year ending October 2022, has audited financial statements which help qualify for state and Federal funds.

• Based on the budget, funds were borrowed from local banks for street repair equipment and police cars.

• The City of Eutaw reached agreement with the City of Boligee to consolidate its water and sewage systems and secure Federal grant funding for needed improvements.

• Work with the Eutaw Chamber of Commerce to promote and increase business development in the city.

• Purchase and renovate a building ( the current 911 office across from City Hall) to house the police force.

• Assist the Greene County EMS to improve the ambulance service and the Fire Department to acquire a new fire truck.

In concluding her remarks, Mayor Johnson said, “Together we can work to move the City of Eutaw forward for all of its people.”

Newswire: Vernice Miller-Travis, a crusader who continues the struggle to weed out environmental racism

Vernice Miller-Travis

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Vernice Miller-Travis has consistently recognized racism, including how race has played a significant role in environmental policy.
She’s the vice chair of Clean Water Action’s board of directors, executive vice president for environmental and social justice at Metropolitan Group, and co-founder of We Act for Environmental Justice.
Miller-Travis said that it’s her job to analyze data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of national priorities.
In that way, she’s able to keep abreast of hazardous waste sites in the United States, including the ones that pose an immediate health and environmental threat.
“You get to see the pattern,” Miller-Travis told National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
“The pattern around the racial composition of who lives in a particular place in proximity to a hazardous waste site is not random,” she said during a riveting conversation inside NNPA’s state-of-the-art television studios in Washington.
The full discussion will air on Chavis’ PBS-TV Show, The Chavis Chronicles.
And when there’s any pushback, Miller-Travis stands at the ready.
“When they ask whether they’re being accused of being racist, I tell them that what I’m saying is that your policies you utilize have an unequal impact that people of color are always adversely affected, not white people.”
Born in 1959 at New York’s Harlem Hospital, where both her parents worked, Miller-Travis said she spent a lot of time at the famed health center.
She attended Barnard College before earning a political science degree from Columbia University’s School of General Studies.
“I started as a researcher working for the civil rights division of a small Protestant Church known as United Church of Christ – the remnants of the church established by the pilgrims,” Miller-Travis said.
As she spoke with National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., for a segment of his PBS-TV show, The Chavis Chronicles, they shared stories about the 40th anniversary of the Warren County, North Carolina protest that officially birthed the movement.
“One of the people leading that struggle was a minister in the United Church of Christ, and he called up to the headquarters in New York City and said, look, we need help. Nobody has talked to us, and the state has not reached out. There have been no briefings, no hearings, no nothing,” Miller-Travis recalled.
“And so, the national church did all they could to help and bring attention to it, but they thought, this is kind of curious.”
She continued: “We need to see if what’s happening in Warren County is endemic to what’s happening in rural North Carolina – is it the southeast? Is it bigger than that? And they hired me as a research assistant to help identify what we would then call environmental injustice and environmental racism, which Dr. Chavis coined the term.”
“And we found that race was the most statistically significant indicator of where hazardous waste sites were located across these United States, not just North Carolina.”
Miller-Travis said her grandmother encouraged her to use her “practical knowledge” as a scientist to understand the circumstances affecting predominately Black communities.
“Nobody was researching the lived experience in terms of environmental impacts on communities of color, on low-income communities, on tribal communities,” Miller-Travis recalled.
“People were focused on endangered species, endangered water bodies – that was where the environmental community’s head was. They were working on hazardous waste issues, but no one was connecting race and environmental threats’ location. So, we were the first folks to do this.”
She continued: “We published a report in 1987 called ‘Toxic Waste and Race in the United States,’ published by the United Church of Christ’s Commission for Racial Justice, which set the whole conversation aloft in this country.
Miller-Travis later traveled to Washington, where the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit took place.
She said she realized then that environmental racism existed throughout the United States.
Miller-Travis helped to adopt the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice, which remains relevant as the world wrestles with climate change, global warming, and a woeful environment.
However, she said she’s optimistic because the Biden-Harris administration has proven aggressive in its approach to these issues.
“This has been the most aggressive White House administration to address environmental injustice and environmental inequities in the history of the United States of America,” Miller-Travis asserted.
“They have policies, objectives, staff, executive orders specifically about environmental injustice in the climate space, and an executive order on addressing systemic racism across the breadth of the federal government.”

Newswire: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announces bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

By Scott Wong and Sahil Kapur, NBC News

WASHINGTON — New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, said Friday that he will run to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the party’s leader after Republicans took back control of the chamber in last week’s midterm elections.
His announcement in a letter to colleagues came a day after Pelosi said in a powerful floor speech that she is stepping down after a two-decade reign as the top leader of House Democrats.

If Jeffries is successful, it would represent a historic passing of the torch: Pelosi made history as the first female speaker of the House, while Jeffries, the current Democratic Caucus chairman, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus and highest-ranking Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill. If Democrats were to retake control of the House — a real possibility with Republicans having such a narrow majority — Jeffries would be in line to be the first Black speaker in the nation’s history.
The ascension of the 52-year-old Jeffries to minority leader would also represent generational change. Pelosi and her top two deputies — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. — are all in their 80s and are receiving from within the party for “new blood” in leadership; Hoyer will not seek another leadership post while Clyburn plans to stay on and work with the next generation.
Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., are seeking to round out the new leadership team, announcing Friday that they will run for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in leadership. Clark, 59, announced a bid for Democratic Whip, while Aguilar, 43, is running for Democratic Caucus Chair.
Pelosi endorsed all three to succeed her leadership team in a statement Friday, saying they are “ready and willing to assume this awesome responsibility.” Clyburn has also endorsed the three, while Hoyer backed Jeffries for leader on Thursday.
“In the 118th Congress, House Democrats will be led by a trio that reflects our beautiful diversity of our nation,” Pelosi said. “Chair Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Clark and Vice Chair Aguilar know that, in our Caucus, diversity is our strength and unity is our power.”
Clyburn, a towering figure in the caucus and close ally of President Joe Biden, called his protege Jeffries “absolutely fantastic” and signaled support for a full slate of younger set of leaders taking the reins of the Democratic leadership apparatus: Jeffries, Clark, and Aguilar

Newswire: Delegates at Climate Confab reach deal to aid poor countries

Drought in East Africa

 

Nov. 21, 2022 (GIN) – With mere minutes to spare, delegates to the UN climate conference (also called COP27) reached a compromise to create a fund for disadvantaged countries coping with climate disasters worsened by pollution mainly from wealthy nations.
 
The meeting of over 200 countries, ending after two weeks of talks, put a finishing touch to one of the most contentious issues dogging the U.N. group that saw years of discussion but no agreement on how to phase out fossil fuels or meet the urgent needs of African and other regions of the Global South.
 
The compromise was a new “loss and damage” fund – a win for poorer nations that have long called for cash — sometimes viewed as reparations — for the costs of destructive storms, heat waves and droughts fueled by global warming. 
 
The United States and other wealthy countries have long rejected the loss and damage concept, fearing they could be held legally liable for the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.
 
Although the Americans have now agreed to add to a fund, money must be appropriated by Congress. Last year, the Biden administration sought $2.5 billion in climate finance but secured just $1 billion, and that was when Democrats controlled both chambers. With Republicans in power, who largely oppose climate aid, the prospects for approving an entirely new pot of money appear dim.
 
Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s minister of green economy and environment, called the latest development “a very positive result for 1.3 billion Africans.” 
 
But many African climate activists were dismayed by the small steps taken by the global delegates and also by the African delegations who, they said, used the conference to embrace the new scramble for oil and gas on the continent. 
 
“For any meaningful outcome to be achieved in Egypt,” wrote Tal Harris of Greenpeace, “delegates must listen to the people of Africa – not the fossil fuel sector – and collectively commit to a phase out of all fossil fuels”.
 
Other outspoken critics of fossil fuel development were Kenyan climate activist Barbra Kangwana of Safe Lamu. The group squashed government efforts to build a coal plant at Lamu, a UNESCO world heritage site, in the name of boosting the national electricity supply.
 
“The community raised its voice, lobbied, signed petitions, went to court, and eventually the people won,” she said.
 
Patience Nabukalu, an activist from Uganda, has been organizing against an East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP), calling it “a clear example of colonial exploitation in Africa and across the global south.”
 
“EACOP is not going to develop our country: peoples’ land was taken, leaving many homeless and poor and critical ecosystems and biodiversity at risk of oil spills such as lake Victoria, rivers, National Parks, animals and birds, as well as aquatic life. We remain hopeful and vigilant as banks and insurers have withdrawn their support. We will continue to resist until everyone involved abandons it completely.”
 
“The fossil fuel industry has degraded our people, our lands, our oceans and our air,” charged Mbong Akiy with Greenpeace Africa. “Enough is enough. No matter how many deals they sign, no matter how many bribes they pay, or how fancy the suits they wear: we shall wait for them in our communities, we will wait for them on the frontlines. 
 
“We will not stop until we see a complete transition to clean, renewable energy that is guaranteed to take millions of Africans out of energy poverty… . In South Africa we have won against big oil, we sent Shell packing, and we will send them all packing again.”
 
“Fossil fuel production, if adopted, will stop Africa from leapfrogging towards a renewable and clean energy future,” said Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe of Powershift Africa. “We pledge to continue pushing for The Africa We Want beyond COP27.” 
 

Newswire : Young researcher from Ivory Coast tapped for women in science prize

Adjata Kamara, scientific researcher

Nov. 14, 2022 (GIN) – Twenty-five-year-old Adjata Kamara’s specialized research into plant-based biopesticides brought her to the attention of the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO – two organizations which aim to give visibility to women researchers worldwide. 
 
This week, Kamara was among 20 young women working in science to receive the UNESCO/L’Oreal prize. She had been exploring the use of plant extracts, fungi and beneficial bacteria on yams rather than chemicals which, she said, depletes the soil. Yams are a root that is highly prized in sub-Saharan Africa.
 
“The prize allows me to show my research to other women, to other countries and it puts a little pressure on me because I tell myself that now I have to be a role model for young girls in science,” she said.
 
Adjata explains that her goal is to develop “biopesticides based on plant extracts, fungi and beneficial bacteria,” in order to treat without chemicals this anomaly that disrupts the production of a plant that is the basis of staple food in several regions of Africa.
 
“I work on the development of biopesticides based on plant extracts, bacteria and also fungi. These bacteria and fungi are said to be beneficial and so I’m trying to find methods to control the fungi that attack post-harvest yams,” said Adjata.
 
Adjata is one of the twenty laureates of the “For women in science” young talent prize from sub-Saharan Africa who will receive US$10,000 to help them in their work.
 
She explained her interest in the field: “From an early age, my father had a mango plantation. And this plantation was attacked by mushrooms, but at that time we did not know it. And as the years passed, there was a drop in production. And from then on, I wanted to know why these mangoes were being attacked (by fungi), and why production was falling. And it’s since then that I devoted myself to it and that I loved science.”
 
 

Newswire: Noose found at Obama Presidential Center site, pausing construction, builders say

 
The Obama Presidential Center under construction on Nov. 10, 2022. Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

By Phil Helsel, NBC News

Construction has been suspended at the Obama Presidential Center after a noose was found at the site on Chicago’s South Side, the builders said last Thursday, condemning what they called an “act of hate.”
“We are horrified that this would occur on our site,” the Lakeside Alliance, the group of construction companies building the center, said in a statement.
The Lakeside Alliance said it was informed Thursday morning about the discovery at the project site and reported it to police.  A Chicago police spokesperson said the department is investigating.
The Lakeside Alliance said it is pausing construction and offering a $100,000 reward to help find the person or people responsible.
“We have zero tolerance for any form of bias or hate on our worksite. Anti-bias training is included in our onboarding process and reiterated during site-wide meetings,” it said in a statement. “We are suspending all operations onsite in order to provide another series of these trainings and conversations for all staff and workers.”
The Obama Foundation said in a statement that its priority is the health and safety of its workforce.“This shameless act of cowardice and hate is designed to get attention and divide us,” the foundation said.
The center, which will commemorate and preserve materials from Barack Obama’s presidency, will include a museum, a plaza, a rooftop garden and a new branch of the Chicago Public Library, among other features, according to its website.
The project broke ground in September 2021 and is expected to open in 2025, according to the center. 

 

Alabama New South Alliance and Alabama Democratic Conference urge straight Democratic vote on Nov. 8

Yolanda Flowers -Governor

Will Boyd – US Senator
Wendell Major- Attorney General

Pamela J. Laffitte- Secretary of State
Curtis Travis- State Representative
Anita L. Kelly- Alabama Supreme Court

Yvette M. Richardson State Board of Education District No # 4

Bobby Singleton – State Senator

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

In Greene County, and many places across the state, the Alabama New South Alliance (ANSA) and the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) are urging voters to vote a straight Democratic Party ticket in the November 8th General Election.

The state’s two major Black and progressive voter organizations are encouraging voters to color in the oval next to the Democratic Party, at the top of the ballot, and vote for all the statewide and local candidates on the Democratic Party slate.

Some of the candidates you will be voting for if you follow this advice are pictured in this article. “Many people do not know that we have Black candidates concerned about all the people running for statewide offices in Alabama,” said Lorenzo French, Chair of the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee.

Yolanda Flowers is running for Governor against incumbent Kay Ivey.
Flowers, a retired educator, has a platform of more equitable policies in education, criminal justice, and healthcare than the current Governor. “All you need to know is that Flowers supports Medicaid Expansion and will sign for it as soon as she is in office,” said French.

In the U. S. Senate race, Dr Will Boyd is supported over Katie Britt for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Senator Richard Shelby. Boyd supports overturning the filibuster to allow for passage of voting rights, reproductive health care, and progressive economic policies in the Senate.
Boyd and other statewide candidates will be in Greene County at the Renaissance Theater on Thursday, November 3rd, to rally for a strong voter turnout next Tuesday.

Other statewide candidates endorsed by ANSA and ADC include: Terri Sewell for U. S. House of Representatives, Wendell Majors for Attorney General, Pamela Laffite for Secretary of State, Anita L. Kelly for Supreme Court Justice, Place 5, Wendell Majors for Attorney General and Yvette M. Richardson for State School Board, District 4.

Also endorsed are Bobby Singleton, State Senate District 24 and Curtis Travis, State Representative District 72.

In Greene County, all local Democratic candidates for local office, chosen in the May primary, are endorsed for the November 8th General Election, including: Joe Benison for Sheriff, Greg Griggers for District Attorney, Ronald Kent Smith for Coroner; Garria Spencer, District 1, Tennyson Smith, District 2, Corey Cockrell District 3, Allen Turner District 4 and Roshanda Sommerville District 5 -Greene County Commission; Robert Davis, District 1 and Brandon Merriweather, District 2 for Greene County Board of Education.

Amendments

Also on the November 8th ballot is one referendum and ten amendments to be voted on by voters statewide. ANSA has given the following recommendations on the Amendments.

First, there is a referendum on the recompilation and removal of racist language from the Alabama Constitution. ANSA suggests voting “YES” on this proposal.

On the Amendments, ANSA suggests voting “NO” on Numbers 1, 3 and 4 and “YES” on the others: 2, 5, 6, 7. 8, 9 and 10.

Amendment 1, is based on Anaiah’s Law and would allow judges in Alabama to restrict bail for persons charged with felony crimes, including:
Murder (other than capital murder), kidnapping, rape, sodomy, domestic violence, human trafficking, burglary, arson, and robbery, all in the 1st degree, as well as aggravated child abuse, sexual torture, and terrorism.
ANSA feels this would limit the power of judges to use their discretion in setting bail, based on the specific circumstances of the case. ANSA recommends a “NO” vote because too many Back people are in jail now, with high bail requirements they cannot meet. Some have been incarcerated for years, without trail, because they cannot meet bail.

ANSA urges a “NO” vote on Amendments 3, because it requires the Governor to notify the families of victims before commuting the sentences of offenders; and Amendment 4, because it would not allow changes in election
Laws within six months of an election, which limits changes required by emergencies like the recent pandemic.

ANSC urges a “YES” vote on Amendment 2 which would allow use of public funds from county and city government toward broadband; Amendment 5, which deals with “orphans’ business”, and I obsolete language; Amendment 6, would allow cities and towns that collect a special property tax to pay bonds or other debt service on public capital improvements.

Amendment 7 would clarify the authority of counties, cities, and towns to use public funds for economic development purposes. Amendments 8 and 9, apply locally to Shelby, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson Counties for dealing with utility systems; Amendment 10, is a companion to the proposed recompiled Alabama Constitution of 2022. It would allow future amendments to the Alabama Constitution to be properly placed in the Constitution.

 

Newswire: Brazil: Lula stages astonishing comeback to beat Bolsonaro

Lula surrounded by supporters celebrates election victory in Brazil


Tom Phillips/Guardian UK

Brazil’s former leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has sealed an astonishing political comeback, beating the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in one of the most significant and bruising elections in the country’s history.
With 99.97% of votes counted, Silva, a former factory worker who became Brazil’s first working-class president exactly 20 years ago, had secured 50.9% of the vote. Bolsonaro, a firebrand who was elected in 2018, received 49.10%.
Addressing journalists at a hotel in São Paulo, Lula vowed to reunify his country after a toxic race for power which has profoundly divided one of the world’s largest democracies.
“We are going to live new times of peace, love and hope,” said the 77-year-old, who was sidelined from the 2018 election that saw Bolsonaro claim power after being jailed on corruption charges that were later annulled.
“I will govern for 215m Brazilians … and not just for those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people – a great nation,” he said to applause. “It is in nobody’s interests to live in a country that is divided and in a constant state of war.”
A few streets away on Paulista Avenue, one of the city’s main arteries, ecstatic Lula supporters gathered to celebrate his victory and the downfall of a radical rightwing president whose presidency produced an environmental tragedy and saw nearly 700,000 Brazilians die of Covid.
“Our dream is coming true. We need to be free,” beamed Joe Kallif, a 62-year-old social activist who was among the elated throng. “Brazil was in a very dangerous place and now we are getting back our freedom. The last four years have been horrible.”
Gabrielly Soares, a 19-year-old student, jumped in joy as she commemorated the imminent victory of a leader whose social policies helped her achieve a university education.
“I feel so happy … During four years of Bolsonaro I saw my family slip backwards and under Lula they flourished,” she said, a rainbow banner draped over her shoulders.
Ecstatic and tearful supporters of Lula – who secured more than 59m votes to Bolsonaro’s 57m – hugged and threw cans of beer in the air.
“This means we are going to have someone in power who cares about those at the bottom. Right now we have a person who doesn’t care about the majority, about us, about LGBT people,” Soares said. “Bolsonaro … is a bad person. He doesn’t show a drop of empathy or solidarity for others. There is no way he can continue as president.”
There was celebration around the region too as leftist allies tweeted their congratulations. “Viva Lula,” said Colombia’s leader, Gustavo Petro. Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, celebrated “a new era in Latin American history”. “An era of hope and of a future that starts right now,” he said. Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commemorated what he called a victory for “equality and humanism”.
Joe Biden issued a statement congratulating Lula on his election “following free, fair and credible elections”. “I look forward to working together to continue the cooperation between our two countries in the months and years ahead,” the US president said.
Justin Trudeaux of Canada, French President Macron, Spain’s leaders and many others recognized and saluted Lula’s electoral victory.
The speed of the international reaction reflected widespread fears that Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has spent years attacking Brazil’s democratic institutions, might refuse to accept defeat. In the lead up to the election he indicated he would contest a result he considered “abnormal”. He is yet to concede to his rival.
Outside Bolsonaro’s home in west Rio there was dejection and anger as the news sunk in. “I’m angry,” said Monique Almeido, a 36-year-old beautician. “I don’t even know what to say.”
And if they didn’t? “The population must take to the streets to demand military intervention so that we don’t hand power over to the communists.” There are also reports of pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers blocking main roads and highways in the country to protest the election of Lula.
At Lula’s celebrations the mood was very different as the veteran leftist vowed to wage war on hunger, racism and to combat environmental destruction which has soared under Bolsonaro. “We will fight for zero deforestation in the Amazon … Brazil and the planet need the Amazon alive.”
“We are going to restart the monitoring and surveillance of the Amazon and combat any kind of illegal activity,” he vowed. “We are not interested in a war over the environment but we are ready to defend it from any threat.”

Newswire: At least 10 million new Black voters likely headed to polls Nov. 8

Barbara Arnwine, president/founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition,
helps a student register to vote during the Arc of Justice Votercade.

By Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – If pollsters believe African-Americans are too overwhelmed, distracted or disinterested to vote in the mid-term and 2024 national elections Nov. 8, they have neither heard nor seen the Arc of Justice 22 city votercade that started in Minneapolis on October 8 and recently finished in a celebration village in Jacksonville, Fla. with the goal of Ar registering 10 million more Black voters.
Civil Rights advocate and lawyer, Barbara Arnwine, head of the Transformative Justice Coalition is the president, visionary and conductor of the tour—which featured king-sized colorful buses with photos of the patron saint of voting, Rep. John Lewis, and the logos of Operation Push, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, some of the sponsors, on its side. Following the bus were scores of cars, lights-flashing, horns blowing , and energetic voices calling all to “Get out to vote.”
The buses showed up on crowded city streets, on Black college campuses and in rural villages where few thought about voting until the big buses showed up to make sure they knew that midterm votes matter. The votercade purposely chose routes that historically had low turnouts, but by the excitement the tour created that might be about to change.
“Voting is a celebration, everyone wins, when Americans can honor their constitutional right to vote,” says Arnwine.
In addition, at various stops, the Arnwine group gave books that in several White school districts were banned because they featured stories about people of color, slavery or civil rights that made White people uncomfortable. Arnwine and the tour have created so much national excitement about voting, the most powerful non-violence change agent Americans possess, that she was called to Los Angeles to tape the Dr. Phil show to remind the nation how crucial the midterm and national elections are in exercising the most fundamental right of an American citizen—and the dangers of losing it.
What did the nationwide Arc of Justice tour accomplish?
Arnwine pointed to Georgia, one of the most oppressive states in the nation for Black voters, where her coalition and the votercade made a major difference. “Just recently they had the largest voter turnout for a midterm election ever,” she said. “Blacks are defiant in Georgia, the heavy turnout for the midterm was equivalent to the first day of the presidential election. And that had never happened.”
Pointing to another significant turnabout in Georgia, she pointed to Marcus Arbery, the father of
Ahmaud Aubery, a 25-year-old Black man, who while jogging, was murdered by three White men, who have been convicted of the crime. She said that much of the family had not voted before Ahmaud’s death, but now they were with the motorcade, registering people to vote. “They have connected justice to voting, I am proud of that family.”
In Milwaukee, one of the poorest cities in the nation, they had a polling place, where few usually showed up to vote she said. But they had more people turning out to vote in that one day that the tour bus was there in their entire voting season.
College campuses provide a gold-mine for registering new voters, according to Arnwine. Morgan State, South Carolina State, and North Carolina Central are just a few college campuses the votercade rolled up on. “At one college we found that 40 percent of the college students were unregistered. We were able to register scores of them. If we had not been there, would they have registered?” Arnwine also said the group had trained scores of millennials –those between 18 and 35—on voter registration and they are already plying their skills. “We need to invest more in our young people. They are vital to get out the vote drives.”
College campuses then, are places where more aggressive voter registration drives should be centered. This is because the vote will determine whether affirmative action which helps so many go to colleges and find employment will be stopped; whether police killing of unarmed Blacks will continue unabated, and where mobs of White supremacists terrorism will continue to rise.
Other groups on the votercade also added perspective. Bishop Tavis Grant, acting executive director of the Rainbow Push Coalition, asked “Why are laws making it harder to vote than to get an assault weapon? Why is it so dangerous for Black people to vote? That is because voting shifts the power scale. If our vote was not important, racists wouldn’t be trying so hard to resist it.”
Dr. Georgia Dunston, a nationally respected scientist, is voting rights committee chair of Black Women for Positive Change, which in collaboration with the Arc of Justice coalition sponsored a votercade in Norfolk, Va. and Richmond Va. Dunston says that democracy is on the ballot and if Trump and the Republican controlled Congress wins, it will be the end of our constitutional form of government, which will result in anarchy, a civil war. Trump has already indicated that if the GOP loses or if he is indicted, his people will rise, so that could mean blood in the streets. Well, Blacks are not going back to where White supremacists want to take us and neither are women, who would no longer have control over their own bodies if Trumpism wins. Civil war might be inevitable, although I am hopeful that won’t be the case.”
Dr. Dunston, along with Dr. Stephanie Myers, co-chair of BWPC, have designed a voter pledge card that they believe will help with the overall goal of gaining millions of new voters. It is called the John Lewis Good Trouble Voters Right Pledge. To encourage people to vote, gift cards are to be given to those who can return the most signed pledge cards. For more information see: Blackwomenforpositivechange.org.”