The City of Selma, Historic Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma and the Selma Center for Non-violence, Truth and Reconciliation sponsored Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr. Day on Saturday, May 14, 2022 in Selma. The day was to honor the civil rights and voting rights pioneer who has dedicated his life to promoting non-violence as a means toward social, political and economic justice for oppressed people.
The day in Selma included a voting rights march and parade; voting rights festival; re-enactment of the first Mass Meeting of the Civil Rights era at Tabernacle Baptist Church and a Voting Rights banquet at the Jemison-Owens Gymnasium of Selma University. The theme of the day was “Voting Rights and Me”.
Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr. helped to lay the foundation for himself, Dr. M. L. King, Jr. and other leaders and footsoldiers of the 1960s Voting Rights Movement in Selma, AL. Because of him Selma’s underground voting rights movement from the 1920’s became publicly visible upon the death of decades-long activist Mr. S W Boynton.
Dr. Lafayette and Mrs. Amelia Boynton organized the first mass meeting/memorial service of the Voting Rights Movement at Tabernacle Baptist Church as daringly invited by then pastor, Dr. Louis Lloyd Anderson. The date was May 14, 1963. Dr. Lafayette, a freedom rider and co-founder of SNCC, organized the youth of Selma and surrounding areas from 1963 to 1965 that led to “Bloody Sunday,” “Turn-Around-Tuesday” and the “Selma to Montgomery March” which brought about the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Dr. Lafayette is now 81 years old; yet he continues to train all peoples in Kingian nonviolence, at the Selma Center for Non-violence, Truth and Reconciliation. This humble, gentle giant deserves overdue thanks for his lifetime of sacrifices for civil rights.
May 16, 2022 (GIN) – The Republic of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) is an archipelago island nation to the west of Senegal and Mauritania, consisting of 10 volcanic islands that lie between 320 and 460 nautical miles west of Cap-Vert, the westernmost point of continental Africa. The official language is Portuguese, the language of instruction and government and in newspapers, TV and radio, but the recognized national language is Cape Verdean Creole, spoken by the vast majority of the population. A sizeable Cape Verdean diaspora community exists across the world, especially in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and in Portugal, considerably outnumbering the inhabitants on the islands. New finds from archaeologists have brought to light fresh evidence of Cape Verde’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. Charles Akibode, director of Cape Verde’s Institute of Cultural Heritage claims nations often sent pirates to do their dirty work. The Portuguese colonization of the Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) began in 1462. Initially envisaged as a base to give mariners direct access to West African trade, the Central Atlantic islands soon became a major hub of the Atlantic slave trade. Enslaved Africans were used on the sugar plantations of the islands and sold on to ships sailing to the Americas. The islands gained independence from Portugal in 1975. As Cape Verde was much further from Portugal than the other Atlantic colonies (about two weeks sailing), the islands attracted fewer European settlers, especially women. As a consequence, Europeans and Africans intermarried on the islands, creating an Afro-Portuguese culture with a strong African religious and artistic influence. The Museu dos Náufragos (Shipwreck Museum), on the island of Boa Vista in Cape Verde, has reopened two years after the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here, history is told from the period of the discoveries, slavery, isolation, survival, drought and Creole culture. The Museum is the result of the work of two decades by Maurizio Rossi, an Italian archaeologist. “This is a three-story museum that starts in the darkest part of history,” Rossi said. “Hundreds of objects are exhibited here such as finds from the wreck of historical ships off Boa Vista, pieces from the period of the pirate attacks to the island or from the sending of enslaved Africans to the Americas and, also, from the Cape Verdean art, and its evolution during the encounters of cultures.” Through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, a law enacted by the Portuguese government in 1899 allowed authorities to force any kind of work, no matter how low the wage or undesirable the situation, upon any unemployed male. This enabled the government to maintain the work force on the cocoa plantations during another grave famine in 1902 to 1903. In the 1950s, protest was mounting throughout Portuguese Africa. A group of Cape Verdeans and people from the mainland colony of Guinea-Bissau, led by Amilcar Cabral, joined forces to organize the Partido Africano de Independencia de Guine e Cabo Verde (PAIGC). Those who resisted politically were subject to the terrors of the Portuguese secret police, and sometimes imprisoned in the concentration camp at Tarrafal, on Sao Tiago. Built in 1936, it operated until 1956. It reopened in 1962, under the name of ‘Chão Bom Labour Camp’, with the purpose of incarcerating anti-colonial activists from Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde. On April 25, 1974, the government in Portugal was overthrown. The new Portuguese government was prepared to destroy their old colonies, but reconsidered, believing that they could still control the colonies with puppet governments. The Cape Verdeans resisted, supporting the PAIGC, and general strikes were called. The government surrendered when all services and production stopped. Independence Day was established on July 5, 1975 and is celebrated by Cape Verdeans throughout the world. Many music lovers now know Cape Verde for the stunning work of singer Cesaria Evora.
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from BlackMansStreet.Today
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Food and Drug Administration want to snuff out menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars which are popular with Blacks, but they have a strong supporter in Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network. Xavier Becerra, Health and Human Services Secretary, said the proposed rule changed would prevent children from smoking and help adult smokers quit. Menthol is a flavor additive with minty aroma and taste that reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking. Advertising for menthol cigarettes are heavily marketed to African Americans, such as Kool and Newport. My mother smoked Kools, as she called them, until she died of cancer. Tobacco use is leading cause of death among Blacks because it leads to heart disease, cancer and stroke. The New York Times reported that Sharpton wrote to Susan Rice, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, that banning menthol cigarettes will encourage Blacks to smoke unregulated herbal menthol varieties that promote criminal activity. Sharpton acknowledges that R.J. Reynolds, which changed its name to RAI Service Company, has supported his organization for two decades. “This is an overdue step towards ending decades of racialized tobacco industry predation on African American! Each year 45,000 African American lose their lives to tobacco-inducted disease’s due in large part to menthol tobacco products,” said Carol McGruder of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. The organization will host its third annual National Menthol Conference on September 28 to 30 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington D.C. If the proposed rule is finalized and implemented, it would address manufacturers., distributors, wholesalers, importers, and retailers who, who manufacture and distribute the products in the U.S.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Michigan State University Economics Professor Lisa Cook is the latest Biden-Harris administration nominee to break the glass ceiling, this time on the U.S. Federal Reserve Board. Cook, well-known for her work on racial and gender equality, won Senate confirmation as the first Black woman to serve on the Fed Board in the agency’s 109-year history. The history-making moment required a tie-breaking vote in the Senate from Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to hold her position. Each of the Senate’s 50 GOP members voted against Cook, while all 50 Democrats and Harris cast ballots in favor of the nomination. “The Fed Board needs governors who understand how the economy works for Americans across race, gender, and class. Dr. Cook’s deep expertise makes her exceptionally qualified to serve,” Michele Holder, president of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, wrote in a statement. An adviser on the Biden-Harris and Obama-Biden transition teams, Cook will help set fiscal policy on the Fed Board. “I was proud to cast my vote for Dr. Cook,” Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock stated. “Her decades of experience as an economist and her Georgian sense of fairness will help promote balance and innovation to strengthen our economy,” Warnock concluded.
The Greene County Board of Education met in regular session, Monday, May 16, 2022, with all board members present. The venue for the board meeting was changed on the day of the meeting from the Central Office to Greene County High School due to water issued related to the City of Eutaw. No water could be accessed in the building. City officials notified Superintendent Corey Jones of the difficulties stating that city workers were trying to alleviate the problem, but could not assure Dr. Jones when the problem would be resolved. Most of the Central Office staff were assigned to work from home. As part of his monthly report to the board, Superintendent Jones had Ms. Teresa Atkins, who currently serves as Acting Director of the Child Nutrition Program (CNP) for the school district, to give an overview of the CNP operations. Ms. Atkins noted that as a federal program, the CNP must follow particular guidelines regarding basic meal requirements as well as presentation of meals. The basic meal requirements differ according to student age groups. Ms. Atkins stated that to assure that the Greene County School System is providing nutritious and palatable meals, she partnered with the State Child Nutrition Program to assist her in enhancing the total meal service for students. This resulted in providing students with various choices of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and breads. At GCHS students may also serve themselves on the lunch line. Ms. Atkins explained that the CNP Program is federally funded through reimbursements. “We can only get reimbursed for the meals actually served. If a student is at school and does not take a lunch tray, the system cannot claim funds for that meal; however, if a student takes a food tray and does not eat anything on the tray, the system can claim reimbursement.” Atkins noted that the CNP staff tries to accommodate the particular needs of students, such as catering to students with various allergies, other medical conditions governing the type of foods they can or cannot consume and religious preferences in foods. At the start of a school year, parents/guardians are asked to complete a questionnaire on each child noting the exceptions in foods their child requires. The week of April 11-15, 2022, Greene County High School lunchroom was featured on the State’s Child Nutrition facebook page. Atkins said this special recognition from the State Department was the results of revamping the serving lines, training staff on how to offer students more options for both breakfast and lunch and creating an inviting atmosphere in the cafeteria. In continuing his report, Superintendent Jones announced that summer school is scheduled from June 6-30, 2022 from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM, four days per week. The classes will focus on individual student deficiencies and weaknesses and credit recovery as needed. Enrichment activities will be a major focus of the summer program as well. Hopefully, educational and fun field trips will be scheduled. Dr. Jones also gave positive news updates on each of the schools. At Eutaw Primary educators and scholars celebrated May Day. Scholars who participated in the After-School Program visited the Montgomery zoo on Friday, May 13, 2022. Third Grade Graduation was held Monday, May 16, 2022. Educators and scholars will show their support for Mental Health Awareness Month by wearing green on Friday, May 20, 2022. Robert Brown Middle School observed Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2-6, with lunch and snacks provided by school partners. Faculty and students held a volley game. May 18 was Honors Day Program. May 25 is RBMS graduation. At Greene County High School, Cosmetology Department, over 30 students participated in the Hair Show on May 6. The track team, students from GCHS and RBMS, participated in Sectionals. Thirteen of the dual enrollment scholars received certificates in Welding from Wallace Community College Selma. Greene County High School was spotlighted in the Break for a Plate Alabama and Alabama CNP State Newsletter. Teachers and scholars participated in Community Service Project to support Branch Heights Residents impacted by the tornado. A blood drive was held at GCHS on April 22, sponsored by the Greene County Career Center’s HOSA-Future Health Professionals. .The personnel service items recommended by the superintendent and approved by the board are as follows: Non-renewal, Robert Brown Middle School: Carrie Rhodes, 4th Grade Teacher; Cyontai Lewis, Physical Education Teacher; Richard Cammon, Social Studies Teacher; LaDasia Grace, 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies; Richard Cammon, 6th Grade Teacher; Marquavius King, 6th Grade Language Arts; Glenara Faust , 5th Grade Teacher; Non-renewal, Greene County High School: Cassandra Freeman, Chemistry Teacher; Arthur Williamson, English Teacher; Non-renewal, Eutaw Primary School: Destiny Taylor, 2nd Grade Teacher; Malesha Williams, Elementary Teacher; Retirement: Gloria Lyons, Cafeteria Worker, Greene County High School effective May 1, 2022; Debra Waiters, Parent Involvement Facilitator, July 1, 2022. Medical Leave: Shirley Noland, effective February 2, 2022, thru April 22, 2022. Catastrophic Leave and FMLA Leave: Jennifer Reeves, starting March 28, 2022, ending May 9, 2022. Employment of the following teachers for Summer School June 6 – July 15, 2022. Greene County High School: Clifford Reynolds; Kaneeda Coleman; Tameshia Porter; Angela Harkness; Drenda Morton; Dutchess Jones; Janice Jeames. Robert Brown Middle School: Vanessa Bryant; Raven Bryant; Felecia Smith; Nkenge Reynolds; Elroy Skinner; Monquelle Wigfall; Leanita Hunt; Dorris Robinson; Pinkie Travis. Eutaw Primary School: Genetta Bishop: Gwendolyn Webb; Tara Thomas; Pamela Pasteur; Quenterica White; Montoya Hurst-Binion; Cheryl Morrow; Carla Durrett; Keisha Williams. Child Nutrition Program: Burnia Cripin; Sandy Wilson; Romanda Askew; Jacqueline Pickens; Rosie Davis. The following administrative services were approved by the board. * Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. Marquita Lennon, CSFO. * Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll. * Contractual Agreement between Greene County Board and Behavior Aide, Denise Horton. * Agreement between Greene County Board and Amy Quitt, Speech Language Therapy Services. * Approval of 2022-2023 School Calendar. * Approval of Summer School Program, starting June 6, 2022 – July 15, 2022. * Approval of 4-day work week for all extended employees beginning June 6 and ending no later than July 29, 2022. * Retroactively Authorization Debit Card Account at Merchant and Farmers Bank. * Credit Card for Travel and Expenditures. Purchase New Vehicle for Superintendent.
The Financial Snapshot as of April 30, 2022 presented by Mrs. Marquita Lennon, Chief Financial Officer is as follows: General Fund Balance – $2,873,434.22 (reconciled to the Summary Cash report); Accounts Payable Check Register – $168,727.62; Payroll Register $862,388.60; Combined Ending Fund Balance – $5,538,710. Local revenue for the month from property taxes, sales and other taxes and bingo revenue totaled $202,184.
At its regular monthly meeting, on May 3, 2022 at Eutaw City Hall, the Greene County Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) Board of Directors heard a dire report of financial and operating crisis facing the county’s ambulance service.
Zack Bolding, Acting Director of GEMS, presented a report of difficult conditions facing the ambulance service, in terms of its equipment, personnel, inadequate base of operations, low reimbursement rates and overall operational finances. The picture he painted was one of imminent collapse and curtailed services unless the County Commission, municipal governments, major employers and others in need of the ambulance service do something to help support the operating and physical equipment budgets of the GEMS.
Joe Lee Powell, current Board Chairperson indicated, “We called this meeting, invited sponsoring organizations and we need to hear the situation and try to act to save our ambulance service. We have used contributions to the GEMS Board over the past few months to help make the payroll. We know there are financial and equipment problems, which we can solve if we work together.”
Bolding presented a detailed written report of the status of the ambulance service. “We are providing an ALS-1 ambulance service (a vehicle with a driver and paramedic on board), on a 24/7 basis. We are doing this with one usable ambulance and two other transport vehicles, which are well behind their safe-service life, in terms of mileage and wear and tear.”
Bolding indicated that the ambulance service must operate under the laws of Alabama, which have minimal vehicle and personnel standards, which they are barely meeting, to meet state requirements and standards.
Bolding said, “Greene County is the second most rural county in Alabama, behind Wilcox County. We have 660 total square miles, including 13 square miles of water with a 2020 population of 7,730 or 12 per square mile. It is very difficult to serve such a large county in and area, coupled with roadways like Interstate20/59 and State Highways 43,11,14 and 39, which traverse our county and bring accidents and other situations that require ambulance services.”
“Beyond the emergency services, we also transport patients to hospitals, specialists and other regular treatments, like dialysis, wound care and cancer care. We need three (3) running modern equipped and staffed ambulance vehicles to handle the demand. We have one 2018 ambulance in running order; we have a second ambulance box, which is awaiting remount and replacement on a new body, which will be ready this summer; a 1995 ambulance and a 1981 ambulance that are past their safe-service life,” said Bolding.
Bolding also pointed out that he had to recruit new staff since he took over the system from Nick Wilson, who in turn was selected as director when Bennie Abrams and Stanley Lucius retired in 2020. “ Abrams and Lucius ran the service as best they could without a lot of help and support, including in effect volunteering a lot of their time, instead of being paid. To run a modern efficient system, you must pay all of your staff under Fair Labor Standards, with minimums and overtime, The staff must also receive health and life insurance benefits, which we have arranged for the first time, ” said Bolding.
Bolding also decried the condition of the old Warrior Academy site, which the GEMS is using as its base of operations. He complained of inoperable toilets, no showers, inadequate food preparation services, no areas for staff to clean and wash their clothes, which are often contaminated by blood, mud and other things, as part of daily operations.
Bolding included a chart in his report indicating that the service rates, charged by GEMS are below allowable Medicare, Medicaid and third-party insurance payer reimbursement rates and could be raised to bring in greater revenues. The GEMS Board approved a contract with Capstone Claims in Tuscaloosa to remedy some of these problems by raising service rates for ambulance services, to bring in greater revenues.
Bolding report indicated service revenues of $617,179 for calendar year 2021, although he estimated that the operational budget, including all costs was around a million dollars a year. This leaves a deficit of $300,000 to $400,000 in expenses over revenues, not including cost for capital improvements, ambulances and equipment.
Powell said, “The Greene County EMS needs help and support from the county, municipalities, employers, bingos and others to save the ambulance service. One quarter of a mil in property taxes, per year, about $40,000, is not enough to cover the full costs of this service.”
Powell suggested a meeting on May 17, 2022 at 3:00 PM at the Eutaw City Hall with the GEMS Board, County Commissioners, Mayors, large employers and other to work on the problems of the ambulance service. The GEMS Board passed a motion for this meeting and requested that Zack Bolding prepare an operating budget and a capital improvements budget for the sponsors and partners of the ambulance service to review at that time and make commitment to save the ambulance system for Greene County.
After nearly 50 years in prison, Sundiata Acoli is finally going home to spend his remaining days with his daughter and loved ones. The New Jersey Supreme Court released its decision Tuesday morning granting Acoli’s bid for freedom. Setting aside any political concerns underlying Acoli’s case, the state Supreme Court determined the parole board’s continued denial was “not supported by substantial evidence in the record or by a reasonable weighing of the relevant factors in N.J.A.C. 10A:71-3.11(b) that govern parole.” “Even under the most deferential standard of review, the Board has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that, if released on parole, Acoli will commit a crime,” read the decision. “Acoli must be released because the statutory standards for granting parole have been met, without regard to extraneous factors like sympathy or passion or public opinion.” Advocates were pleased with court’s decision. “We applaud the New Jersey Supreme Court in granting Mr. Acoli’s freedom and correcting the parole board’s improper application of the law by denying his petition for release after serving more than 49 years in prison,” said Soffiyah Elijah, Civil Rights attorney and one of the primary advocates for Acoli. “It’s time now for Mr. Acoli to live the rest of his life in the loving care of his family and community,” Elijah added. The preponderance of the evidence standard burden on the state is relatively low compared to the reasonable doubt standard present in criminal proceedings. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement expressing his disappointment and choosing to lionize law enforcement as “heroes” without any acknowledgment of why the parole board made its determination. The New Jersey State Police similarly expressed disappointment in a Facebook post. But as the state Supreme Court noted personal feelings and opinions have no bearing on the determination of whether Acoli was eligible for parole based on his conviction arising out of the 1973 killing of Trooper Werner Foerster. According to the court’s majority, the applicable law is clear in the proper outcome. As NewsOne reported in January, Acoli’s release was backed by several groups, including Black law enforcement organizations. “Holistic review of the parole hearing transcript from the full June 2016 hearing suggests the Parole Board does not fear Mr. Acoli has a substantial likelihood of future criminal activity,” explained the Black law enforcement groups in a brief supporting Acoli’s appeal. “Rather, the questioning by Parole Board members reveals a deep-seated discomfort with Mr. Acoli’s political affiliations and beliefs, anger and frustration at his unwillingness to accede to the facts of the crime as found by the jury which he has always maintained he does not remember, and concern that he has not been sufficiently punished even after all these years. Dissatisfaction with an old man’s contrition and memory does not equate to credible evidence of a substantial likelihood that he will commit a crime if released.” His case also put a spotlight on the issues involved with those aging while incarcerated and the punitive approach of some state parole boards. Estimates suggest that continued incarceration of older individuals costs twice as much as a younger person, given the additional health needs with age. Lumumba Bandele, a coordinator with the Bring Sundiata Acoli Home Alliance and organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, challenged the arbitrary withholding of parole. “What we found nationally is there is a huge problem around parole, and people utilizing parole as a punitive measure,” Bandele said. It’s hard to believe the nature of the underlying charge and the politics surrounding his arrest and conviction had nothing to do with the continued incarceration. But as the state supreme court noted, it’s of no consequence to the statutory factors laid out for establishing whether Acoli was eligible for release. As news of Acoli’s pending release spread, the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign held a justice day action in Albany, New York. One speaker said that “revenge and perpetual punishment does not equal justice.” The group advocates for parole justice as a part of elder justice. A 2015 report by the Center for Justice at Columbia University argued that reducing elder incarceration is a part of comprehensive public safety strategies. The movement to release aging people has been widespread with recognition of how the application of state laws effectively converted some sentences to de-facto life sentences. While Acoli won his appeal, he still has yet to be released into the care of his daughter and loved ones. His family is one of many waiting for the return of their loved ones. “There are, unfortunately, dozens of other incarcerated movement elders who are in similar positions, almost all of them are battling health issues and not just health issues, but life-threatening health issues,” Bandele previously explained.
Tight restrictions on abortion have already placed the procedure out of reach for many Black women in America — obstacles that will grow even more daunting if the landmark Roe v. Wade is overturned. Across the Black Belt — the Southern states where the echoes of slavery reverberate in legislation that perpetuates political and social inequities — women have long confronted overwhelming costs and logistical obstacles in seeking reproductive health care. Earlier this week a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion signaled the end of abortion rights nationally, which would leave an already marginalized group, who seek abortion care at a higher rate, with less access to family planning services, resulting in poor health, education and economic outcomes, according to researchers, experts in family planning and advocates for reproductive justice. “Women are going to die,” said Dalton Johnson, who owns an abortion clinic in Huntsville, Alabama. “It might not be as many as it was in the ’70s because we have medication abortions. There are groups that are going to have access to those — whether legally or illegally. But everybody’s not going to be able to do that and women are going to die.” If Roe falls, many women in the South will turn to a network of grassroots organizations and advocacy groups led by Black women that has emerged out of necessity to fill gaps in health care coverage and the social safety net. These groups have already been helping women who struggle to compile the cash — and coordinate the time away from work, child care and transportation — that are necessary to get the procedure. Laurie Bertram Roberts, the executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based nonprofit that offers funding and support for women who have abortions, recalls a woman who received financial aid after having to choose between paying her electric bill and paying for her abortion. “One time, it was bailing somebody out of jail to get their abortion,” she said. Roberts and other reproductive rights advocates and leaders of small abortion funds across the South said that while they’re not ready for the challenge of Roe being overturned, they are as prepared as they can be. “We’ve been planning for this possibility for several years,” Roberts said. “This isn’t a new threat, but it’s a larger threat. So many states could lose abortion access at once. Like 2,300 to 3,000 people get abortions at the clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, a year. How do you reroute 3,000 people out of state?” Nearly two dozen states are likely to ban or severely restrict abortion access if Roe is overturned, and 13 have “trigger laws” to ban abortion immediately, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the Center for Reproductive Rights, which support abortion access. Advocates, organizers and experts all agree that Black women in the South will bear the brunt of these restrictions. Black people make up about 38 percent of Mississippi’s population, according to recent Census data, but they accounted for 74 percent of abortions in the state in 2019, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Alabama’s figures are similar, with Black people accounting for about 27 percent of the state’s population but 62 percent of abortions. Johnson pointed out that low-income patients and people of color already have to navigate a health care system that can be inattentive and discriminatory. But people with work obligations, financial struggles and lack of transportation also simply have a more difficult time getting to abortion providers in other states. This, organizers said, means they would be even less likely to get an abortion if Roe is overturned — worsening a cycle that perpetuates poverty for Black people. Research shows that unintended pregnancies hold people back from completing their education and getting and keeping jobs and can lead to poor health and economic outcomes for their children. People denied abortions are more likely to live in poverty, with economic instability and poor physical health. “It’s people who have been pushed to the margins,” said Monica Simpson, the executive director of SisterSong, a Georgia-based reproductive justice organization that serves people of color. “It’s those living in states where access has been completely obliterated, they’re going to be impacted most — that’s people of color, low-income folks, queer, trans and gender-nonconforming folks.” Black organizers have argued that Roe has always been “insufficient” for Black people who lack resources. So, they have resolved that the work after Roe will look a lot like the work they’ve been doing to fight for reproductive justice for decades — but intensified.
‘Every dollar counts so much’
For two weeks in April, the New Orleans Abortion Fund, which primarily assists patients in Southern states, had to inform callers and clinics that it was out of money for the month. Although the fund is back up and running, A.J. Haynes, the board chair, expressed concerns last month that the nonprofit would be unable to raise enough money to help every caller in need. Many of the callers the fund supports live in states where the choice to have an abortion is more fatiguing than workable. Mississippi and Louisiana have the nation’s highest poverty rates, and residents make deep sacrifices to scrape up enough for their appointments. In 2021, most of the nonprofit’s callers were Black. More than half asking for help already had at least one child and received health insurance through Medicaid. Under the Hyde Amendment, people on Medicaid cannot access federal funding for abortion care. “Every dollar counts so much here,” Haynes said. “Every dollar is gas in someone’s tank. Every dollar is literal food in someone’s mouth.” Across the Deep South, access to abortion care is already buckling, said Johnson, the Alabama clinic owner. The fallout from a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy has spilled over into surrounding states as clinics like Johnson’s serve an influx of new patients. Women in Mississippi, where the only abortion clinic in the state provides treatment up to 16 weeks of pregnancy, might travel hundreds of miles to the Alabama Women’s Center if they need a procedure further into their second trimester. In 2020, abortion funds gave more than $10 million to support more than 400,000 people, according to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which includes Yellowhammer along with some 88 funds across the country — a majority of them in the South — and three international funds. But the locally run funds — many launched by Black organizers — can face an uphill battle in securing resources, even as donations flood Planned Parenthood and other national groups. “They will have to raise more money,” said Marcela Howell, president and CEO of the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. “This will intensify their work. They will need more money to actually achieve what they’re trying to do. They’ll have to build their existing systems up to higher levels.” For more information and to donate, contact: YellowhammerFund.org or call 205/582-4950.
Ukraine was one of the world’s largest exporters of grain before the Russian army invaded and halted grain exports, harvesting 11% of the world’s wheat and 17% of its corn. For decades, it’s been referred to as the breadbasket of Europe. In spite of Russian troops blockading Ukraine’s ports, the country’s harvest has continued, but most crops have been unable to leave Ukraine. Now, millions of tons of grain are sitting idle, and the country’s storage capacity is reaching its limits while the world gets hungrier, according to the UN’s top food agency. Nearly 25 million tons of grain are currently stuck in Ukraine and unable to leave the country due to obstructed seaports and infrastructural issues, said Josef Schmidhuber, an economist with the Food and Agriculture Organization. Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, he warned of an “almost grotesque situation” in Ukraine, in which grain is being harvested according to regular schedules, but cannot be taken out of the country. “[There are] nearly 25 million tons of grain that could be exported but that cannot leave the country simply because of lack of infrastructure, the blockade of the ports,” Schmidhuber said. He clarified that the war has so far not had a significant impact on harvests, but it is becoming harder and harder for global markets to access Ukraine’s food commodities. Schmidhuber explained that most of Ukraine’s winter crops were planted and harvested in the west of the country, far away from the brunt of the fighting and the war did not impact the recent harvest. He added that around half of the planned summer crops are already in the ground, although it is uncertain how much of it will be reaped. “A considerable crop could be coming in going forward,” Schmidhuber said, but added that the outlook for grains leaving Ukraine remained uncertain, especially if Black Sea ports remained blocked by Russian forces. Ukrainian ships have been blocked from leaving Black Sea ports for months, and the director of the UN World Food Program in Germany announced earlier this week that almost 4.5 million tons of grain are currently sitting in containers in Ukrainian ports, unable to leave because of unsafe or occupied sea routes. Grain shipments from Ukraine are usually done by sea, according to Schmidhuber, but are now being taken out of the country by rail more and more frequently, something he said can be exceedingly more complicated. Grains leaving Ukraine by train can sometimes need to be unloaded and placed on new carriages due to different railway specifications, such as different widths between rails on a single track. Ukraine and Russia combined are some of the world’s largest suppliers of key agricultural commodities, including wheat, rapeseed, maize, and sunflower oil, according to the FAO. The disruption of these crucial global supply chains has raised food prices and exacerbated hunger issues in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions. There are also some reports that Russian troops have been looting Ukrainian grain storages, according to the FAO. “There is anecdotal evidence that Russian troops have destroyed storage capacity and are looting storage grain that is available,” Schmidhuber said, adding that there are also signs Russian troops have been stealing farm equipment as well, potentially putting the productivity of future harvests at risk. “Grain is being stolen by Russia and transported by trucks into Russia,” he said. The uncertainty about what direction the war will take, Ukraine’s limited storage capacity for grain, and evidence that Russian troops have been stealing and damaging harvests and farming equipment, means that global food prices—especially those for cereals and meats, according to the FAO’s latest monthly food price index—are still highly volatile. In its latest food price index, released on Friday, the FAO announced that global food prices decreased in April after a huge jump last month, but Schmidhuber stressed that it was only a small decline. The UN said in April that 45 million people worldwide suffer from malnourishment, with up to 20 million more at risk of famine because of the war. Highly vulnerable regions of the world where the war is expected to amplify hunger include countries in the Sahel and West Africa, according to the World Bank.