Newswire: President Biden announces first nominees for Board to Review Civil Rights Era Cold Cases

Poster for three murdered Civil Rights Workers in Mississippi

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Fourteen years ago, thesent the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice a list of 74 cold cases involving African Americans allegedly murdered in racially motivated circumstances by White people between 1952 and 1968. Most of the crimes took place in Mississippi, which contained nearly half of the 74 cases. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee all made up the rest. All went cold, and the victims’ families never received justice. Today, a new path to justice has opened to crack these cold cases. On Friday, June 11, President Joe Biden announced the first set of nominees for the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. The panel would have the power to declassify government files and subpoena new testimony that could reopen cases and reveal publicly why many racially motivated lynchings and killings of Black people were never adequately investigated. “The White House hopes that the Senate moves quickly to [confirm] these nominees,” an administration official told the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “The Board was established with nearly unanimous bipartisan support in 2019,” the official noted. President Biden’s nominees are: • Clayborne Carson has devoted most of his professional life to the study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movements Dr. King inspired. Since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson has taught at Stanford University as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History (Emeritus). • Gabrielle M. Dudley, an Instruction Archivist at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. In this role, she partners with faculty and other instructors to develop courses and archives research assignments for undergraduate and graduate students. • Hank Klibanoff, a veteran journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize in History in 2007 for a book he co-wrote about the news coverage of the civil rights struggle in the South. Klibanoff is the creator and host of Buried Truths, a narrative history podcast produced by WABE (NPR) in Atlanta. • Margaret Burnham has served as a state court judge (appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis, 1977), civil rights lawyer, and human rights commissioner. A graduate of Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Burnham has been on the Northeastern University faculty since 2002. She was named to the 2016 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, an honor recognizing a select group of scholars for their significant work in the social sciences and humanities. The panel could consider cases like the three civil rights workers in Mississippi – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner – killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964. Two months later, the activists’ bodies were riddled with bullets, burned, and buried in a dam in Neshoba County. The “Mississippi Burning” case has largely gone unsolved and primarily unpunished. In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but authorities closed the case and put an end to hopes of prosecuting others involved. In Lowndes County, Alabama, there is the case of 18-year-old Rogers Hamilton. On a brisk night in October 1957, two white men arrived at Rogers’ home, summoned him outside, and put him in a truck. His mother, Beatrice Hamilton, trailed the truck on a dusty road and watched in horror as they pulled Rogers out of the vehicle and shot him in the head. When she notified the sheriff, he told her she didn’t see what she “thought she saw” and closed the case. “No one cared, except his extended family, now scattered from Chicago to New York,” John Fleming, an editor at the Center for Sustainable Journalism, wrote in a 2011 column. “The case remains open, though the reality is that this case will never be prosecuted,” Fleming decided. “Though the family wants justice, even if it means getting the local district attorney to indict a dead deputy, what’s equally important to them is the fact that the story of a long-dead [man] in faraway Alabama has finally been told.”

Newswire : Supreme Court ruled against lowering sentences for crack cocaine convictions

Supreme Court building

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

On Monday, June 14, the Supreme Court ruled that those convicted of possessing small amounts of crack cocaine are prohibited from seeking sentence reductions. Activists complained that the ruling is just another slap in the face to minority defendants who were disproportionately sentenced to lengthy prison sentences during the 1980s crack epidemic. Congress passed laws in the 1980s in response to the crack epidemic that mandated that anyone arrested and convicted for possessing small amounts of crack would face sentences as long as someone caught with heavier weights of powder cocaine. African Americans and Latinos found possessing small amounts of crack received sentences longer than White suspects who had power cocaine. “This is still White America, and the Supreme Court reflects this ‘White privilege’ mindset,” stated Tremaine Powell, an Alexandria, Va., resident who recently was released after a 15-year-to-life sentence for crack cocaine possession. “I’m on probation for the rest of my life,” Powell complained. “Some White Wall Street executive caught with zip-lock bags full of cocaine only gets probation.” Tarahrick Terry, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, brought the case to the Supreme Court. Terry served a little more than 15 years for possessing less than 4 grams of crack cocaine, which reports noted weighs about the same as four paper clips. Terry sought relief from his sentence under the First Step Act, but a lower court ruled that the law did not apply to low-level offenses. In December of 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, and the law was viewed as a measure to correct the injustice tied to crack cocaine sentences and other criminal activity that otherwise should not have led to long prison terms. According to the nonprofit Red Restorative Justice Program, the goal of the law was to “give deserving prisoners the opportunity to get a shortened sentence for positive behavior and job training and giving judges and juries the power that the Constitution intended to grant them in sentencing.”

Newswire: Senate confirms Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson to powerful DC Appellate Court

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire National Correspondent

The U.S. Senate on Monday, June 14, confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. President Joe Biden nominated Judge Jackson to fill one of the vacancies on the District appellate court, considered one of the most powerful courts in the nation. Most view the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia as a kind of farm system for Supreme Court justices. President Biden stated his desire to fill any Supreme Court vacancy with a woman of color throughout his campaign. Judge Jackson’s nomination cleared the Senate with a 53-44 vote. Three Republicans – Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – voted with Democrats to confirm. “I think she’s qualified for the job,” Graham conceded, noting that “she has a different philosophy than I do.” Since 2013, Judge Jackson has served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where she has written more than 550 opinions. A 2013 nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Jackson previously served as an assistant federal public defender, and vice chair for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. “We applaud the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,” stated Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Her extensive litigation experience, service as a federal public defender, and distinguished career as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia make her preeminently qualified for this position.” Hewitt continued:“Judge Jackson, who has clerked at every level of the federal judiciary and is a champion for justice, will be an excellent addition to what is considered the nation’s second-highest court. “For too long, the Senate has gone without confirming Black women to the federal appellate bench. The Biden administration’s commitment to appointing fair-minded jurists committed to equal justice and the rule of law, and who represent the rich racial and ethnic diversity of America, is a welcome departure from the past four years and signals a brighter future for our nation.” Judge Jackson fills the seat of Merrick Garland, who now serves as U.S. Attorney General. With Republicans controlling the Senate at the time and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) serving as Majority Leader, the chamber declined to consider Garland’s nomination by President Obama to the Supreme Court. Under President Trump, McConnell and Republicans confirmed two Supreme Court nominees, including one pick just weeks before Trump lost to Biden in the November election. This week, McConnell now the Sen. Minority Leader, said he won’t consider any Supreme Court nominations from President Biden. “I’m methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views, any other inappropriate considerations, and I would think that race would be the kind of thing that would be inappropriate to inject into my evaluation of a case,” Judge Jackson told senators during her confirmation hearing. “I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am, and that might be valuable – I hope it would be valuable – if I was confirmed to the court.”

Newswire: Republican opposition to Biden’s Infrastructure Plan puts truck drivers at risk

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) — Trucks began arriving here to pre-position water, military rations, ice and tarps for the post-hurricane relief effort. The trucks, which began arriving Oct. 20, have delivered supplies from Key West to northern Miami-Dade County since the storm passed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lisa M. Macias).

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

President Joe Biden proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan beyond improving dilapidated roads and bridges across the country. Commonly called the American Jobs Plan, the President’s proposal earmarks $115 billion on repairing bridges and 20,000 miles of highways and roads. Approximately $85 billion would go toward public transportation improvements while $20 billion would improve road safety to reduce crashes, something the National Transportation Safety Board has on its latest Most Wanted List. The safety board noted that truck crash fatalities are rising on America’s highways, and implementing a comprehensive strategy to eliminate speeding-related crashes must occur. Protecting vulnerable road users through a safe system approach and preventing alcohol- and other drug-impaired driving also top the Most Wanted List. The board also wants lawmakers to craft legislation requiring collision-avoidance and connected-vehicle technologies on all vehicles and eliminate distracted driving. While most Democrats back the President’s plan, it doesn’t appear that there are enough Republican votes for passage. “We’re going to have discussions in our committee about safety and infrastructure regarding trucking, probably a variety of things on safety,” U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told NJ.com. “We’ve got a lot of congestion and growth and issues,” said Cantwell (D-Washington). “We have some things that are infrastructure investments, and there’s some that are just very specific safety.” Reportedly, bipartisan talks are on the brink of collapse. “We continue to think there needs to be major progress by Memorial Day,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN. “All that is not going to happen by Memorial Day. But we really need to get this done this summer, which is why we continue to want to see, even just in the few days between now and the holiday, some real progress if we’re going to pursue this path.” The NTSB’s push for legislation comes as truck driver deaths sit at their highest level in more than three decades. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent report showed that 885 large truck occupants died in 2018 – an increase of about 1 percent compared to the prior year. It is the highest since 1988 when 911 occupants of large trucks died. Trucking industry groups have offered both their support and skepticism about President Biden’s infrastructure plan. “We commend President Biden for leading on infrastructure and putting forward his Administration’s vision to modernize and revitalize our nation’s aging transportation networks,” said Chris Spear, the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations. “The health of our economy, the strength of our supply chain, and safety of the motoring public require us to make big, bold investments in our nation’s roads and bridges, and this plan would steer much-needed critical projects along our National Highway,” Spear stated. However, Spear added that the associations did not believe the administration’s funding proposal is politically tenable nor a reliable long-term solution to the shortfall facing the Highway Trust Fund, which is responsible for ensuring that America’s roads and highways continue to be among the safest and most technologically sound in the world. NATSO, the trade association representing the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas, offered its approval for the President’s plan. “We are pleased to see that the Administration’s plan did not incorporate tolling existing interstates and commercializing rest areas, which would harm off-highway businesses and highway users,” stated NATSO president and CEO Lisa Mullings. “NATSO is encouraged by the Biden Administration’s commitment to the nation’s immediate and long-term infrastructure needs as outlined in today’s proposal. “NATSO and its member locations are eager to work with the Administration to advance its infrastructure objectives, including building a reliable and safe nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations.”

Newswire: Dr. Fauci supports “Shot at the Barber Shop” as part of nationwide vaccination plan

Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he wholeheartedly supports President Joe Biden’s initiative with Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons to get more African Americans vaccinated. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and the nation’s foremost authority on the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci, called the president’s tactic solid. In a discussion with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Dr. Fauci added that medical and administration officials have a laser-like focus on meeting the president’s goal of having 70 percent of all adults vaccinated by Independence Day. “That’s the reason why you see what [President Biden] is doing, and all of us are doing to get people vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci asserted. “We want to make it very easy for people to get the vaccine.” President Biden declared June as a month of action and announced a “Shots at the Shop” initiative that unites 1,000 African American-owned barbershops and beauty salons in the country to serve as vaccination hubs. The initiative comes with incentives like free child-care for parents and other perks. “We want to give incentives and do whatever we can to get people to get vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci stated. He noted that the NNPA, the trade association of the hundreds of Black-owned newspaper and media companies, is a trusted voice in the nation’s African American communities. “That’s why I am speaking with you today,” Dr. Fauci insisted. “The Black Press is vital, it is trusted, and we need to get the word out and get everyone vaccinated.” To view Dr. Fauci’s entire interview with the Black Press, register today and tune into the NNPA’s annual summer convention. It is free to register at http://www.virtualnnpa2021.com. Headlined by music icon Chaka Khan, the convention begins on Wednesday, June 23.

Newswire: Company-inspired violence on Warrior Met coal strike picket lines increasing

Striking mine workers gather weekly for solidarity rallies on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM in Tannehill State Park  

[BROOKWOOD, ALA.] Three separate incidents of vehicular assault by persons working for Warrior Met Coal, Inc. have occurred on legal picket lines set up by members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in the last three days, raising questions as to whether the company has determined that violence and the threat of bodily harm are its best responses to the ongoing strike by UMWA miners at the company. Videos of the incidents are available on the UMWA website.
1,100 miners, members of the UMWA have been on strike since April 1st. against Warrior Met Coal at four underground mines north of Tuscaloosa. The ten-week strike, the first coal miner’s strike in Alabama in forty years, is centered on the company’s unwillingness to bargain fairly over wages and benefits. There are also safety concerns and complaints of required long work hours.
Five years ago, the UMWA made major concessions to help the company, owned by Wall Street hedge funds, to emerge from bankruptcy. Since then the workers have helped restore the company to profitable operations but the company has reneged on its promises to restore wage and benefit cuts. Warrior has been bringing “scab labor” to cross the union picket lines which has resulted in some of the recent violent incidents.
“Warrior Met personnel, either management or nonunion workers, have repeatedly struck our members who were engaging in legal picket line activities, with their vehicles,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today. “We have members in casts, we have members in the hospital, we have members who are concerned about their families and potential of violence against them if they come to the picket line.
“We have been to court on multiple occasions regarding what we can and cannot do on the picket lines and our members respect the guidance of the court,” Roberts said. “Warrior Met seems to believe that it is all right to strike people with cars as they engage in legal, protected activity. This is a dangerous course of action that can swiftly lead to events spiraling out of control. That is the last thing anyone should want.
“I call on Warrior Met to back away from violence and finally come to the bargaining table in good faith, ready to hammer out a fair and reasonable agreement,” Roberts said. “But if Warrior Met decides to continue inspiring violence on the picket lines, their leadership should understand that UMWA members have been subjected to company violence for 131 years and will not be deterred from seeking a fair contract for them and their families. We are still here and we will remain here long after those leaders have gone.”

 

Newswire: More coffins found in Tulsa Race Massacre victim search

Excavation of mass grave site begins at Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery

By The Associated Press

Crews searching a Tulsa cemetery for victims of the 1921 Race Massacre found five more coffins on Thursday, bringing to 20 the number of coffins found at a mass grave feature there, city officials said Thursday. After much of the excavation and analysis is completed this week at Oaklawn Cemetery, city officials say a formal exhumation process started on Monday of this week. The search began last year, and researchers in October found at least 12 sets of remains in coffins, although the remains were covered back up for further study at a later date and authorities haven’t yet confirmed they are those of massacre victims. State archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck has estimated as many as 30 or more bodies could be in the site. Not long after the massacre, the state officially declared the death toll to be only 36 people, including 12 who were white. But for various reasons, including contemporaneous news reports, witness accounts and looser standards for tracking deaths, most historians who have studied the event estimate it to be between 75 and 300. The past week has been a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre of May 31 to June 1, 1921, with many events to recall the devasting details of the largest massacre of Black people in the United States.

Newswire: Vice President Kamala Harris becomes highest ranking Black woman from U.S. to make foreign trip

Vice-President Harris arrives in Guatemala

By Bruce C.T. Wright, NewsOne

There is no shortage of Black history being made in the year 2021. This time around, Vice President Kamala Harris has become the highest-ranking Black woman government official in U.S. history to make a foreign trip. Guatemala literally rolled out the red carpet as the first woman and first Black vice president of the United States touched down on Sunday for her maiden trip abroad for President Joe Biden‘s administration to address the immigration crisis at America’s southern border. However, not everybody in Guatemala was happy that Harris was visiting. The trip is part of Harris’ duties as assigned by Biden to figure out how to effectively — and humanely — handle the influx of migrants seeking citizenship following the massive failure in that arena by President Donald Trump and his administration, which separated families at the border, caged the children and deported the adults. Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei during a bilateral meeting to address the root causes of migration from Central America. The vice president was among multiple government officials from both countries to meet at the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Guatemala City. “The goal of the vice president’s trip is to deepen our strategic partnership and bilateral relationship with both the Guatemalan and Mexican governments to advance a comprehensive strategy to tackle the causes of migration,” Harris’ spokesperson, Symone Sanders, told CNN. While the talks got underway inside the opulent building that is the equivalent of Guatemala’s White House, protesters outside demonstrated against Harris’ presence in their country. Photos showed protesters carrying signs in English as well as Spanish that implored Harris to “mind your own business” and “go home” and saying she was “not welcome.” Back home in the U.S., Harris was the subject of false media reports centered on her new immigration role. A reporter with the conservative tabloid New York Post was forced to quit in April after writing without offering any proof that undocumented migrant minors arriving at the border were being greeted by American officials with copies of a children’s book written by the vice president. Previously, Harris hosted a virtual bilateral meeting on the same topic with Giammattei in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House on April 26. Following the meeting in Guatemala, Harris was scheduled to travel to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to “attend roundtable discussions with entrepreneurs and labor leaders,” NBC News reported. But considering the important role that Mexico plays with immigration to the U.S. — migrants traveling through Central America typically must pass through Guatemala before getting to Mexico, from where they cross into any number of border states like Texas, Arizona and California — chances are those talks will also address America’s migrant crisis while the vice president is in Central America. The meeting in Mexico may even touch on Trump’s infamous border wall that Democrats and the Mexican government alike vehemently opposed. Prior to Harris’ trip this week, other high-ranking Black American women to travel abroad for the U.S. government include Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, and Susan Rice, who served as former President Barack Obama‘s national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations.

Excerpts from 7 strong speeches at April 20: SOS rally for Medicaid Expansion SOS to hold planning meeting Saturday in Selma

L TO R: Zack Carter; Bill Harrison; Gus Townes; Atty/Activist Faya Sanders; Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford; Bullock County Commissioner John McGowan; Chair of Greene County Alabama Health System John Zippert; Former Slocumb Mayor and Executive Director of Alabama Conference of Black Mayors, Vickie Moore; Gail Townes. (photo 4-20-21 by Jacque Chandler – PICTURETHISMAGAZINE.COM)

 

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy is holding a planning meeting in Selma on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at the Center for Non-Violence, Truth and Reconciliation, 8 Mulberry Road, Selma, AL 36703. The meeting which starts at 10:00 AM is an effort to pull together organizations from around the state to plan for the upcoming crucial elections in 2022 for statewide offices. SOS hopes to develop a strategy similar to the successful work in the neighboring state of Georgia for voter registration, education, combating voter suppression and positively influencing the redistricting process in the state. All SOS member organizations and other organizations who plan to work on the upcoming 2022 elections are invited. As part of this meeting, SOS plans an assessment of its membership and efforts to attract more participation and support. This includes an evaluation of the SOS agenda of fighting voter suppression, advocacy for Medicaid Expansion, criminal justice reform and fighting new prisons, worker’s rights, and other issues of concern to Black, Brown and poor people in Alabama. SOS will also discuss plans to participate in a statewide meeting in Shelby County, Alabama on Friday, June 25, 2021, the eight anniversary of the Shelby vs. Holder Supreme Court decision, which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The program for the day will be to advocate for support of Congressional action on HR 1 -For the People Act and HR-4 John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to counteract the national voter suppression efforts. SOS has also developed a youtube video, entitled “SOS to AL Gov: START Medicaid Expansion & STOP Police Escort of Strikebreakers at Union Coal mines”, which has excerpts of seven strong speeches at the SOS rally on April 20, 2021, in front of the Alabama State House in Montgomery. SOS has demonstrated on a regular basis for a year, at least once a month, sometimes every other week, to urge Governor Ivey and the Alabama State Legislature to adopt Medicaid expansion. The SOS video includes the following statements.

• Emcee: Johnny Ford, Former Mayor – and First Black Mayor – of Tuskegee, Co-Chair of SOS Health Committee: ‘We are here for the purpose of sending a clear message to Governor Kay Ivey, Medicaid Must Be Expanded in Alabama Now! People are dying more so than ever before because of the Covid 19 Pandemic …those 300,000 plus who now do not now have health care…if they had Medicaid, they would have insurance and perhaps their lives would be saved. There is absolutely no excuse, no reason to not expand Medicaid because the funds are now available!

• 1st Speaker, John Zippert, Co-Chair of SOS Health Committee: “ I am also Chair of the Greene County Alabama Health System where 40% of those served have no health insurance!…The State of Alabama is eligible to receive $940 million in incentive payments over two years, if it expands Medicaid to serve people making up to 138% of poverty wages, under provisions of the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11. (See also Greene County Democrat April, 22, 2021 – one of many John Zippert’s detailed articles analyzing Medicaid Expansion )

• 2nd Speaker, Alabama Bullock County Commissioner John McGowan: ” I can’t see how any elected official in the State of Alabama wouldn’t care about the health and welfare of Alabama ! It’s been stated the money is available ! It is a simple solution …lives are the most important thing, and our economy will benefit. Gov. Ivey let’s get this bill passed.!

• 3rd Speaker, Vickie Moore, Executive Director of Alabama Conference of Black Mayors: ‘Caring for others is an expression of what it means to be fully human! So today we are asking Gov Ivey to Expand Medicaid and improve the lives of 300,000 who are on low income…13 hospitals have closed in the last 8 years in Alabama, they spend 500 million a year for their uninsured patients, without Medicaid Expansion more hospitals will close.’

• 4th Speaker, Civil Rights Atty Activist Faya Rose Sanders, Chair of SOS Direct Action Committee: ‘I want to use this opportunity to thank our people in elected positions because we have so many people in elected positions who do not use their positions to fight for the people. And I want to thank each and every one of you…And a part of that bill that was just passed, 800,000 more people are now receiving insurance. And if a president can do it in Washington, there’s no reason why a governor in Alabama can’t do it.’

• 5th Speaker, Zack Carter, Former President of Shipbuilders Local 18 in Mobile, and Co-Chair of SOS Justice Committee: ‘Last night John Zippert and I were at a rally for 1100 Alabama Coal Miners who are on strike. [See: https://umwa.org/support-umwa-miners-on-strike-at-warrior-met/ — with riveting videos of the mineworkers and family showing their struggle for justice in their workplace, is a struggle for all of us ! ].

The President of the Alabama AFL- CIO and the National President of the United Mine Workers of America UMWA assured us of their support for Medicaid Expansion. And this is only natural, in the 1960’s Labor support was key for Medicare and Medicaid, in the 1930’s when Labor allied with progressives, their crowning social justice jewel was Social Security…and in the 1930’s. John L Lewis, out of the UMWA, was a key founder of the CIO — the first union on a national scale to organize all workers into one union — black, white, men, women, skilled, and unskilled. And Lewis was already organizing a multi-racial UMWA in Alabama in the 1920’s… Gov Ivey, you claimed you can’t find the money for Medicaid Expansion, but you sure didn’t look long to find the money to pay AL State troopers to escort strikebreakers into the UMWA mines, strikebreakers in yellow school buses, getting paid 12 bucks and hour with no training in the deepest and most dangerous mines in the US.’ • 6th Speaker, Bill Harrison, active SOS member for many years, 1970’s Civil Rights leader in Choctaw County; There are many reasons why the Governor should sign Medicaid Expansion: 8 to 10 counties in Alabama that do not even have a hospital; it would create jobs; the infant mortality rate would go down…And a lot of people would be more healthy. About a year ago, my niece [audience: “ Tell the Story!”] in Butler, Alabama, which they do not have a hospital, they say there is one but there is not one there. And when my niece got the virus, she had to go to Meridian, Mississippi — many of these hospitals do not have the resources and equipment to treat people properly – they put my niece on a ventilator on Monday and she died on Tuesday. If you have difficulty downloading the youtube video contact: zcarter8@gmail.com. For more information about joining and supporting SOS, contact them at: 838 South Court Street, Montgomery, AL 36104; or call 205/262-0932.

 

Lottery-Gambling Bills leave many unresolved questions for Greene County

News Analysis by John Zippert, Co-Publisher

The Lottery-Gambling Bill which passed the Alabama State Senate failed in the Alabama House of Representatives on the last day of the session. The bill as passed by the Senate created an Alabama Lottery with most proceeds going to higher education scholarships and established casino gambling at six designated locations in the state, with proceeds going to the state’s general fund for broadband expansion, rural health care support and other priorities. The bill provided for casino gambling with slot machines and table games, such as Blackjack, Roulette and others, at places in the state that previously had dog racing and some new locations. Casino gaming was specifically provided at Greenetrack in Greene County, Mobile, Birmingham, Shorter (Victoryland in Macon County), Dothan and a new facility in the northeast corner of the state (near Chattanooga, TN.). The lottery and gaming regulation was placed under the control of a statewide commission and tax revenues flowed to the state. There was also a provision that some portion of the taxes would be returned to the local jurisdictions where gaming facilities were located. The Porch Creek Band of Choctaw Indians that own and operate electronic bingo gambling, on tribal land, at Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery would be allowed to upgrade their gambling operations to table games, under Federal regulations. The Porch Creek interests were allowed to compete for the new location in NE Alabama. There were also provisions allowing a compact between the State of Alabama and the Porch Creek Band relative to revenues from gambling. There were many groups and interests in Greene County who opposed the bill because it did not answer some issues and questions they had. Greene County voters overwhelming approved Constitutional Amendment 743, in November 2003, which allowed electronic bingo in the county. The licensing and payment of monthly fees and charitable contributions is governed by the Sheriff of Greene County. Currently there are six licensed bingo operations in Greene County – Greenetrack, Bama Bingo, Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Marvel City. There were five operating bingo enterprises during the last legislative session. These bingo operations employ 300 to 500 persons in their operations, most of whom are Greene County residents. Greenetrack is responsible for approximately 100 of the employed positions. For the month of April 2021, the five bingo operations contributed $600,948.87, based on fees per machine, to the Greene County Commission, Greene County Board of Education, Greene County Health System, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union and Boligee, as well as a group of non-profit charitable organizations. Greenetrack provided $71,000 to the same government and municipal agencies. These agencies receive over $7 million a year in revenues from the bingo operations. The heads of these agencies are quick to say without these bingo revenues they would have a difficult time in providing necessary services to the residents of Greene County. The major unresolved questions in the effort to create statewide lottery and casino gambling were what happens to the other bingo operations in Greene County, if Greenetrack becomes the only officially designated gambling site in Greene County. What happens to the other bingo halls in Greene County? Will they have to close? Will they have to lay off their employees? What guarantees are there to the county agencies, including the schools, health system and municipal governments, that receive $7 million a year in revenues from bingo, that these funds will be continued or replaced with other funds? The lottery/gambling bill died in the legislature this session but it will surely be revived again in a future special or regular legislative session. The questions we have raised in this article and that are on the minds of Greene County residents remain unresolved. Greene County is a special case, we and Lowndes County, already have an established electronic bingo industry, which was not taken into consideration in the debate on the lottery/gambling bill in this year’s session. We must take actions to assure our interests and concerns are considered in future discussions of gambling in Alabama. The Democrat will stay on top of this issue and welcomes letters and comments from our readers.