COVID-19

As of June 8, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,322,957 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(10,520) more than last week with 19,676 deaths (28) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,902 confirmed cases, 20 more cases than last week), with 49 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,629 cases with 52 deaths

Hale Co. had 4,825 cases with 106 deaths

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

Newswire : Nigerian Chima Williams wins Goldman Environmental Prize for helping communities in the polluted Niger Delta

Chima Williams (center) working

 

May 27, 2022 (GIN) – A Nigerian lawyer who took up the cause for delta communities harmed by a subsidiary of the oil conglomerate Royal Dutch Shell will be recognized this year with a “Nobel Prize for grassroots advocacy to protect the environment,” formally known as the Goldman Environmental Prize for 2022.
 Chima Williams, executive director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria (Environmental Rights Action), was recognized for his role in helping the Goi and Oruma communities of the oil-rich Niger Delta region get justice.
 The victory came after 13 years of litigation when a Dutch court awarded damages to the communities for oil spills which happened between 2004 and 2007 due to exploration by a subsidiary of the oil giant.
 It was the first time a parent company was held liable for actions of its subsidiary in the delta.
 Oil and gas are vital to the Nigerian economy and account for almost half of the country’s GDP. But that wealth was never shared with the delta community. On the contrary, the delta was soon so damaged by frequent oil spills and flares that it was designated one of the most polluted places on earth by Amnesty International.
 Life expectancy in the region is estimated to be 49 years, 10 years lower than the rest of the country.
 In an interview with Al Jazeera, Williams described the halcyon days before Shell first found oil in 1956.
 “Before the advent of oil in commercial quantity,” he recalled, “the Niger Delta used to be known as the most peaceful, the most hospitable, and the most luscious part of the country.
 “Port Harcourt, seen as Nigeria’s oil capital, was christened ‘the garden city,’ he reminisced. “Landscapes in the Niger Delta were a beauty to behold. The people were fishing folks and farmers, supplying the needs of households and families in the Niger Delta and across Nigeria.
 “All those cherished memories of the Niger Delta people have been consigned to the dustbin,” he said bitterly, “because the fishes they catch now are poisonous.”
 In his acceptance speech, Williams, who lives in Benin City, Edo State, gave thanks to all those who supported the litigation. He called on the global audience to join the campaign for environmental justice. 
 “After all, the environment is our life – a healthy environment breeds healthy people and only healthy people can make a healthy world.”

Black, Asian and Latino communities all faced mass shootings in two weeks. How they’re showing support

Buffalo. NY supermarket site of mass shooting of Black people


The nation was still reeling from a deadly shooting blamed on an alleged white supremacist in Buffalo, New York, an anti-Asian shooting in Dallas’ Koreatown neighborhood and slayings at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California, when a gunman killed at least 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. 
Now, Black and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are showing their solidarity with the Latino population in Uvalde at a time when calls to protect America’s most disadvantaged populations are becoming increasingly urgent. Latino and Hispanic residents make up 72.7 percent of Uvalde County’s population, according to census data. 
“I hope that we can use this moment to lean on one another,” said Chas Moore, the founder of the Austin Justice Coalition, a Black-led social justice organization. “The Black community just went through the terrible hate crime that happened in Buffalo. Now the Latino community is going through this. Our communities are mourning.” 
Civil rights leaders across communities have been texting and emailing with one another since the Dallas and Buffalo shootings this month, said John C. Yang, the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“Even after the Buffalo, Laguna Woods and Dallas shootings, all of our communities had been talking to each other by text, cellphone and email,” he said. 
With every shooting comes a new discussion, he said, and the constant communications often feel bleak. 
“Those conversations have been angry, sad, frustrated,” he said. “When we get on the phone with each other, we all have this recognition of ‘here we go again.’ Because this is not the first time we’ve had these conversations.” 
Similar discussions, as well as joint communications directed at the White House, have taken place after shootings at Asian-owned spas in Atlanta; a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; Emanuel AME Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. “The list has gone on,” he said. 
“At a very basic level, I would ask people to reach out to your friends and neighbors in the different communities that have been affected,” Yang said. “Just open up that conversation and be courageous in your discomfort. We recognize that some of these conversations will be hard and uncomfortable, but we need to have them.”
Authorities said an 18-year-old man barricaded himself in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and opened fire on students and teachers. Uvalde, about 83 miles west of San Antonio, is in a region with a large Mexican American population, and about 87 percent of the school’s students are considered economically disadvantaged. 
Yang said the violence against three communities puts a spotlight on the dangers of existing as a minority in the U.S.  
Since the massacre, photos of the victims have been shared online, groups have created numerous fundraisers to support the families of the victims, and calls for stricter gun laws have begun dominating the national conversation. Moore said that as the Austin Justice Coalition discusses concrete ways to support the community less than three hours away, he hopes the tragedy will result in even more solidarity. 
“This can happen anywhere. After the grieving, I hope Black and brown communities can organize to fight for gun safety laws. Something has to change,” Moore said. 
Outrage over Texas’ relaxed gun laws has followed the elementary school shooting, especially because Gov. Greg Abbott signed seven laws last June to expand gun rights — one of the laws allows people to carry handguns without licenses. While many people have blamed the shooting, in part, on the state’s lack of gun control laws, experts, who have said that wasn’t the case in Buffalo, have attributed the slayings to the country’s history of racist terror. 
And as gun violence affects three distinct communities, solidarity among them doesn’t take just a single form, said Manju Kulkarni, a co-founder of the civil rights organization Stop AAPI Hate. 
“It involves at a minimum acknowledging what is happening to other communities, seeing that the hate against African Americans is both similar to but also different from what our AAPI communities are experiencing,” she said.
Policy solutions can’t be one-sided, she said, and leaders need to put forward legislation that would benefit all communities of color. Kulkarni acknowledged that minority communities might feel silenced and hopeless when it comes to creating change. Nineteen states enacted voting restrictions last year; experts say the measures will worsen access to the ballot box for people of color. 
“I get it that right now people feel that government is inept,” she said. “This is what we have, this is the way we share our collective voice, but democracy has to work.”
For those who don’t have national platforms to address violence, solidarity can be as simple as checking on those they care about, donating to mutual aid operations or openly expressing their anger, advocates said.

Newswire : President Biden signs landmark Police Reform Executive Order

Police reform demonstration

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on police reform that he hopes will help prevent excessive force and encourage officers to intervene in such cases.
“Two years ago, the murder of George Floyd exposed for many what Black and Brown communities have long known and experienced – that more must be done to ensure that America lives up to its founding promise of fair and impartial justice for all,” President Biden stated.
The President signed the order on May 25, the two-year anniversary of Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Following the murder conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, three other cops were found guilty in federal court of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Prosecutors said the trio stood by while Chauvin pressed his knee into the unarmed 46-year-old’s neck for more than nine minutes. Thomas Lane recently agreed to a plea deal to avoid state prosecution and serve two years in prison.The other two officers involved, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, face a state trial this summer.
“The incident sparked one of the largest social movements this country has ever seen, with calls from all corners to acknowledge the legacy of systemic racism in our criminal justice system and in our institutions more broadly,” administration officials stated prior to Biden signing the executive order.
Biden’s action will advance effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices that will build public trust and strengthen public safety, the White House said.
“Police cannot fulfill their role to keep communities safe without public trust and confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” administration officials wrote in a Fact Sheet.
“Yet, there are places in America today where the bonds of trust are frayed or broken. To heal as a nation, we must acknowledge that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disproportionately involved Black and Brown people,” they continued.
The order intends to enhance public trust by promoting accountability, transparency, and the principles of equality and dignity in policing and the larger criminal justice system.
Increased trust makes policing more effective and thereby strengthens public safety, the President stated. “Without that trust, victims do not call for help. Witnesses do not step forward. Crimes go unsolved. Justice is not served,” he said.
The order mandates measures for all federal law enforcement agencies, leveraging the President’s direct authority over the executive branch. It requires the use of federal tools such as guidance on best practices, training, and technical assistance, and grantmaking to support reforms at state, tribal, local, and territorial law enforcement agencies that will strengthen public trust and improve public safety across the nation.
The order creates a new national database of police misconduct to include records of officer misconduct, including convictions, terminations, de-certifications, civil judgments, resignations, and retirements while under investigation for serious misconduct, and sustained complaints or records of disciplinary actions for serious misconduct.
The data also will have due process protections for officers. Biden’s order requires federal agencies to adopt measures to promote thorough investigation and preservation of evidence after incidents involving the use of deadly force or deaths in custody, as well as to prevent unnecessary delays and ensure appropriate administration of discipline. It also mandates the adoption of body-worn camera policies.
Further, the order bans the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints unless deadly force is authorized and restricts the use of no-knock entries.
Further, the order directs a government-wide strategic plan to propose interventions to reform the criminal justice system. A new committee with representatives from agencies across the federal government will produce a strategic plan that advances front-end diversion, alternatives to incarceration, rehabilitation, and reentry.
Biden has ordered the attorney general to publish an annual report on resources available to support the needs of persons on probation or supervised release.
“It’s an effort to be responsive,” administration officials stated.

Probate Judge certifies May 24 primary results;
Local races headed for runoffs on June 21st

Rolanda Wedgeworth, Probate Judge, officially certified the results of the May 24th Democratic and Republican primaries in Greene County. There were a total of 2,955 votes cast with 2,660 Democratic and 295 Republican votes. This was close to a 50% turnout, indicating that many people did not vote.

Many races were determined in the first round; however, several major contests statewide and locally remain to be decided in the primary runoffs set for Tuesday, June 21st. Voters will have to return to the polls for the runoff to decide these races. Applications for absentee ballots are available now through the Circuit Clerks office for those who may be out of town, in college or otherwise unable to get to the polls.

In the County Commission races, there will be a runoff in District 5, between incumbent Roshanda Summerville with 200 votes (41.06%) and Marvin Childs with 190 votes (39.01%), the other two candidates, Sharlene French and Anika Coleman Jones, split the remaining 20% of the votes.

For District 1 Commissioner, Garria Spencer was elected with 339 votes (67.39%) to Shelia Daniels with 164 votes (30.60%). Allen Turner Jr. was elected Commissioner for District 4 with 339 votes (54%) to Christopher Armstead with 196 votes (31%) and Malcom Merriweather with 93 votes (15%). Commissioners Tennyson Smith in District 2 and Corey Cockrell in District 3, had not opposition in the primaries. None of the local Greene County candidates have Republican opposition in the November General Election, unless there are write-in candidates.

There will be runoffs on June 21st. in the two Greene County School Board races which were on the ballot.

In District 1, Carol P. Zippert received 207 votes (40.74%), to 151 votes (29.72%) for Robert Davis Jr. and 150 votes (28.52%) for Fentress ‘Duke’ Means. The runoff will be between incumbent Carol P. Zippert and Robert Davis Jr.

A seasoned Greene County political observer said this is another lesson that every vote counts. Davis made it into the runoff by one vote. Every vote counts and can determine the result of an election, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

In District 2, there will also be a runoff between Brandon Merriweather with 177 votes (41.54%) and Tameka King with 140 votes (32.86%), Kashaya Cockrell with 109 votes (25.58%) trailed and was eliminated.

As reported last week, Jonathan “Joe” Benison was re-elected Sheriff, and Gregg Griggers was re-elected as District Attorney for the 17th Judicial District, including Greene, Sumter and Marengo counties. Curtis Travis carried Greene County over Ralph Howard for the State Representative, District 72 position. Travis won district-wide and will be our new state representative in the Montgomery legislature.

In the statewide races, there will be a runoff for Democratic nominee for Governor between Yolanda Flowers and Malika Sanders Fortier. Will Boyd was chosen as the Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate seat. On the Republican side there will be a runoff between Katie Britt and Mo Brooks for the Senate seat. Governor Kay Ivey was renominated as the Republican candidate for Governor with 65% of the party’s vote.

For the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee, in District 2, Female candidates: Mattie Strode, Linda Spencer and Sara Duncan were elected. In District 3, Female: Elzora Fluker, Tracy Hunter and Mary Dunn were elected; in District 5, Female: Daisy Ann Hutton, Barbara Collins and Barbara Amerson Hunter were elected.

For Male positions in District 1, Joe Chambers, Vernon Strode and Tony Betha were chosen by the voters; in District 3, Male : LaJeffrey Carpenter, Joe L. Powell and Antonio Pearson were elected.

A letter from Uvalde, Texas about the school shooting

By: Sarah Hidalgo-Cook

Editors note: I have visited Uvalde, Texas some years ago with the Rural Development Leadership Network (RDLN), a non-traditional leadership education and certification program for rural leaders. One of the leaders sent this statement about the school shooting and gave us permission to print it.

 

 It rained all night in Uvalde (we really needed).  I have decided that Jesus wept with us last night.  He washed away the sadness and ugliness of our day yesterday.  We at my agency, Southwest Area Rural Transit -SWART, are all well and very lucky, as we had one of our staff whose son attended Robb Elementary and was in the 4th grade.  He was safe but I pray that the after effects of this tragedy is something he can overcome in time. 

My husband, Kevin, is very sad this morning as I am.  His grand-great nephew’s daughter Ellie was one that was killed yesterday.  She was in the classroom in which the shooter entered.  It took over 8 hours before he had confirmation of her death as DNA had to be used to determine who she was, as was the same with other victims.  

I was born and raised in Uvalde, Texas. My home growing up, where my father still lives, is three blocks from Robb School. I walked home from Robb every day with my childhood friends. At that time, the 70’s, the school did not have security fencing or even enclosed classrooms. The classrooms were open to outside. If you walked out the door, you were stepping into the elements.

As I sat at my desk that Tuesday dealing with normal SWART issues, I heard the sirens. Our community has daily car chases and bailouts because of the illegal activity stemming from the influx of immigration, since we are thirty miles from the border with Mexico. When the realization of an active shooter at one of the schools became a reality, our minds were reeling.

The chaos continues. We are bombarded by media, state and national politicians, Hollywood, and others who do not really share our heartache. I knew only one victim personally. — Ellie Garcia, our great-grand niece. We would run into her and her family in the grocery store or see her on her parents’ Facebook videos and picture. We are heartbroken and feel so much sadness for her parents Steven & Jen, and her four sisters. I also know an aunt or uncle, grandmother or grandfather, or extended family member of the other beautiful souls who were taken too soon.

As recently as a week ago, we saw many of these young girls playing softball. We love to watch the sport, which reminds me of when our girls played. My heart aches for what they must have endured in those last moments and for what their parents and families must endure from now on. I am also angry!

“Not in my town. Not in my elementary school. Not to my people.” That is what my heart is telling me. I know that we are in for years of anguish. This is a wake-up call for our community and other rural communities everywhere. When the media is gone and we are left alone to face this nightmare, we will need to lean on each other more than ever. We will need to lean on our faith in God. Uvaldeans are my people. This is my home. We have always been resilient, but we will never, ever be the same.

Sarah Hidalgo-Cook MSCD, CCTM
General Manager
Southwest Area Regional Transit District
#uvaldestrong
 

COVID-19

As of May 29, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,312, 437 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(5,146) more than last week with 19,658 deaths (17) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,882 confirmed cases, 5 more cases than last week), with 49 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,614 cases with 52 deaths

Hale Co. had 4,793 cases with 106 deaths

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

Local Democratic Primary election shows mixed results: Sheriff Joe Benison, Commissioners Garria Spencer (District 1) Allen Turner Jr. (District 4) win; others in runoff on June 21st

Sheriff Benison, Garria Spencer and Allen Turner Jr.

In yesterday’s May 24th primary election there were some local winners but many races with multiple candidates were pushed into second round runoffs, scheduled for June 21st.

In unofficial returns for Greene County, incumbent Democratic Sheriff Jonathan “Joe” Benison was re-nominated with 1,511 votes (57.47%) over challengers Jimmie Benison with 783 votes, Hank McWhorter with 175 and Beverly Spencer with 160. Benison like most local Greene County nominees has no Republican opposition in the November general election.

In the District 1, Greene County Commission race, Garria Spencer was nominated with 339 votes (67,4%) with 164 votes (32.6%) going to challenger Shelia R. Daniels. This contest was for the seat held by the late Lester “Bop” Brown.

In the District 4, Greene County Commission contest, incumbent Allen Turner Jr. with 338 votes (53.91%) defeated two challengers Christopher Armstead with 196 (31.26%) and Malcom Merriweather with 93 (14.83%) of the votes.

The District 5, Greene County Commission race will feature a runoff between incumbent Roshanda Summerville with 199 (41%) votes and Marvin Childs with 190 (39%), Sharlene French 69 votes and Anikia Coleman Jones with 28 trailed behind the leaders.

In the Greene County Board of Education District 1 contest, Dr. Carol P. Zippert led with 207 (40.8%) votes to an unofficial tie between challengers Robert Davis and Fentress “Duke” Means, each with 150 votes (29.6%). Zippert will be in a runoff with one of her opponents, who is officially certified in the final count, which will deal with any contested or provisional votes cast in this race.

A poll watcher who monitored the Absentee Box counting, indicated there were six votes disqualified for lack of proper signatures and witnesses on the affidavit and one vote rejected by the counting machine because of voting for two people in one race. This ballot was counted in the District 1, BOE race, for Robert Davis Jr., but is not reflected in the unofficial totals,
which are derived from the thumb drive taken from each machine.

In the Greene County Board of Education District 2 race, there will be a runoff between: Brandon Merriweather 177 (41.65%) votes and Tameka King 140 (32.94%). Incumbent Kashaya Cockrell was edged out with 108 (25.41%) of the votes.

In the race for State Representative, District 72, in Greene County, Curtis Travis received 1,445 (59%) votes to 1,004 (41%) for Ralph Howard. In the full district, which includes Hale County, and parts of Tuscaloosa and Bibb counties, Travis received 3,101 votes ( 52.7%) to 2,785 votes (47.3%) for Howard.

In statewide races on the Democratic side, there will be a runoff between Yolanda Flowers and State Senator Malika Sanders Fortier for Governor, with the winner to face current Governor Kay Ivy, who won the Republican primary with 65% of the vote against challengers Lynda Blanchard and Tim James. In Greene County, Malika Sanders Fortier led the ticket with 961 (43%) votes to 671 (30%) for Flowers, with others trailing behind.

In the statewide race for U. S. Senate, Democrat Will Boyd led in Greene County and the state by 65% to win without a runoff. Boyd will face the winner of a Republican state runoff between Katie Britt (45%) and Mo Brooks (29%) to fill the vacant seat left by the retirement of Senator Richard Shelby.

State Amendment for an $85 million bond issue for State Parks and historical places, won in Greene County by a vote of 2,167 (85%) yes to 378 (15%) no. It was also successful statewide by a margin of over 65% yes votes.

 More election results including for the county Democratic Executive Committee, to follow after the votes are officially certified next week.

Newswire: Ten African languages, “couriers for the transmission of knowledge’ to be added to Google’s translate app

May 23, 2022 (GIN) – While a professor at the University of Nairobi, Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was the catalyst of the discussion to abolish the English department. He argued that after the end of colonialism, it was imperative that a university in Africa teach African literature, including oral literature, and that such should be done in the richness of African languages.
Today, writing and reading in African languages will be more possible with the addition of 10 languages on the Google Translate App.
Translation, understood as the transfer of meaning (of a text) from one language into another language, is crucial for the transmission of information, knowledge and social innovations.
It is a courier for the transmission of knowledge, a protector of cultural heritage, and essential to the development of a global economy. 
Among the new additions are Lingala from Central Africa, Twi from Ghana, Tigrinya from Eritrea, Oromo from Ethiopia, and Krio from Sierra Leone.
Krio, an English-based Creole language, is the first language of about 350,000 people and is used as a lingua franca by over 4 million. It is spoken by 87% of Sierra Leone’s population.
“So for the fact that Krio is now very visible, it means Sierra Leoneans who can read and write and understand Krio will be able to use the Sierra Leone Autography to communicate on the Google Platform,” commented Dr. Abdulai Walon Jalloh, head of the Department for Language Studies at Fourah College, University of Sierra Leone. He was part of a team that worked on Sierra Leonean dialect translations for Google.
“Languages we are told are our identities, they represent who we are, and they are what we’ll call the DNA of every culture. The fact that we are using one of our own languages to engage on Google, it means that our languages are technologically relevant, that our society can transmit our culture, and we can translate our attitude.”
Ngugi, a long-time advocate for the use of local languages, was imprisoned in 1977 for writing a play where local actors performed in Gikuyu. The simple act of speaking or writing in your mother tongue was a revolutionary gesture. 
With 54 countries, Africa has a variety of languages, including some at risk due to the proliferation of other dominant groups and the influence of Western culture. 
Some rare African languages are even becoming extinct along with the culture and knowledge they represent.
In the post-colonial era, African people have grown more aware of the value of their linguistic identity. But only a few are considered official at the national level, and languages imported by colonial powers still prevail.
Fortunately, African countries are claiming more of their language inheritance, and are developing language policies aiming at multilingualism to reclaim and preserve rare African languages.
 

Newswire: Alabama State dedicates Jo Ann Robinson Hall, removes Klan member’s name from dorm


Jo Ann Robinson was an English professor at Alabama State College in the 1950s who fought for changes on Montgomery’s segregated buses well before the arrest of Rosa Parks.
When Parks was arrested in December 1955, Robinson spread the word through Montgomery’s Black community that the time had arrived for a long-anticipated boycott of the bus system.
Robinson, working overnight with help from another Alabama State professor and students, wrote, mimeographed, and distributed 52,500 leaflets flyers urging Black people to stay off the buses for a day. The idea caught on and grew into the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a year-long campaign that broke the segregated system known for abusing and humiliating Black riders.
Today, Alabama State University rededicated the former Bibb Graves Hall in the heart of its Montgomery campus as Jo Ann Robinson Hall.
Civil rights attorney Fred D. Gray, a 1951 ASU graduate and the legal counsel for the boycott, told the crowd at today’s ceremony about meetings with Robinson to plan the boycott and described her as an essential leader of the effort.
“If she had not done what she did and been insisting on it, there would have been no Montgomery bus boycott at that time,” Gray said.
ASU President Quinton Ross noted at today’s ceremony that Easter would have been Robinson’s 110th birthday. Robinson died at age 80 in 1992.
“Today we are here to sing her praise and to let the world know that Jo Ann Robinson’s name deserves to be honored along with other icons with which we are all familiar, many of whom like Professor Robinson held significant ties to this great university,” Ross said.
In 2020, Ross commissioned a committee to research and identify ASU buildings named after leaders or avowed members of racist organizations.
Bibb Graves was governor of Alabama from 1927 to 1931 and from 1935 to 1939. Graves won his first term with the backing of the Ku Klux Klan and was grand cyclops of the Klan in Montgomery, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Following a recommendation from Ross, the ASU Board of Trustees voted in September 2021 to rename Bibb Graves Hall for Robinson.
The three story-building with a bell tower was built in 1928 and is the oldest residency hall on the campus. It was renovated in 2008.
The move by ASU comes after several other state universities renamed buildings that were named after Graves.
In February, the University of Alabama renamed Bibb Graves Hall in honor of Autherine Lucy Foster, who was the first Black student at the university.
Troy State University renamed Bibb Graves Hall in 2020, rededicating it as John Robert Lewis Hall in honor of the Pike County native, civil rights champion and late Georgia congressman.
Last year, Jacksonville State University renamed its administration building that was named after Graves.
The Alabama Legislature passed a law in 2017 to prohibit the removal of historical monuments in place for 40 years or more and the renaming of historical buildings and streets. Several Alabama cities, including Birmingham and Mobile, have paid $25,000 fines for moving Confederate monuments.
ASU President Ross said the university is prepared to defend its decision to rename the residency hall.
“This is a historic day, and I think it’s been revolutionary across the county in terms of what has been happening with replacement of monuments and emphasis on social justice and equality right now,” Ross said. “While there is a law on the books, like many other laws, should that become an issue, we stand ready to defend our position. But with all the changes that are taking place within the state, within the country, I think this is a welcome change.”
Alabama State University Archivist Howard Robinson told the crowd at the dedication ceremony how Jo Ann Robinson came to play an important role in Montgomery and the civil rights movement. She was born in 1912 in Georgia and was the youngest of 12 children in her family. She excelled at school and earned degrees from what is now Fort Valley State University and Atlanta University.
In 1949, Robinson was recruited from a college in Texas to teach at ASU. Robinson, who was 33, was invigorated by the readiness of the Black community in Montgomery to challenge the Jim Crow system, according to the archivist Robinson. An encounter with a verbally abusive Montgomery bus driver during her first year in the city helped strengthen her resolve to be an advocate.
Robinson joined and became the president of the Women’s Political Counsel, which took its concerns about the bus system, police abuses, and other problems to city leaders. Robinson joined and became a leader at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King would later become pastor and the most visible leader of the bus boycott.
The archivist Robinson said Jo Ann Robinson wrote a letter to the mayor of Montgomery in May 1954, four days after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, threatening a bus boycott.
But humiliating seating policies and abuses of the Black riders continued and led to several more arrests of Black women before Parks’ arrest on Dec. 1, 1955. That’s when Robinson printed and distributed the leaflets and was involved in the work with Gray and others to help launch the boycott.
“In response, Montgomery’s Black population demonstrated almost universal support for the boycott,” Howard Robinson said. “Robinson would continue her activism during the year-long boycott.”
Howard Robinson said Jo Ann Robinson “nurtured amongst her students a sense of assertive discontent” and was one of a dozen ASU professors forced to leave the college by the State Board of Education in 1960.
After leaving ASU, Robinson taught for a year at Grambling College in Louisiana, now Grambling State University. She then moved to Los Angeles, where she worked in the public school system until she retired in 1976, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama