Photo above shows Milton Merritt in Roll Tide shirt, Jerrie Merritt in green shirt next to her parents Eloise and Howard Crawford. They are surrounded by family and friends.Attorney Joshua Swords sworn in as Eutaw Municipal Judge Eutaw City Council and Mayor reach agreement to go forward with TAP-Streetscape Grant after prodding from citizens

Attorney Joshua Swords is sworn in as City of Eutaw Municipal Court Judge by Tuscaloosa Circuit Judge John H. England, Jr. at a special ceremony held in the William M. Branch Courthouse on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Standing with Attorney Swords are his wife Kim and son Joshua, Jr. The Swords also have a daughter, Caroline. Swords has been a practicing attorney since 2004 in Tuscaloosa and opened a second office in Eutaw in 2016.

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

At its March 12, 2019 meeting the Eutaw City Council and Mayor agreed to move forward with the TAP Streetscape Grant to beautify the sidewalks, street lights and some green-spaces around the Old Courthouse Square, in the center of the city.
This issue had deadlocked the Mayor and Council for the two regular meetings in February, which surfaced concerns between the Council and the Mayor on the finances of the city, limiting the hours of staff, availability of working equipment to maintain the streets and other points of disagreement.

The TAP grant involves $640,000 of funds from the Alabama Department of Transportation to redo the external sidewalks, provide new lighting and some green-spaces on the Courthouse Square, named for Sheriff Thomas Gilmore. The Eutaw City Hall, the Greene County Courthouse, the Industrial Development Authority and other county agencies have offices in the impacted area, which is the center of downtown Eutaw and the business and civic center of Greene County.
The grant requires a match of $220,000 from the city or others including $160,000 in direct matching funds and $60,000 for engineering costs. In the two February meetings, the Council postponed action on accepting the grant because of their lack of knowledge of the city finances and concern that funds were not available to match this grant.
In its February 19, 2019 meeting the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA) agreed to provide at least a third of the $220,000 matching funds and help raise the remainder of the needed funds because of the critical benefits of the project, the GCIDA’s office location on the Square and the overall message of progress and receptivity for change that the project represents. The GCIDA has been meeting informally with officials from the City of Eutaw, the Greene County Commission and others to help find the needed matching funds.
The Eutaw Downtown Planning Committee a multi- generational, interracial group of Eutaw citizens that have been working to improve the downtown areas and the Courthouse Square presented a letter at the March 12 Eutaw City Council urging action on the TAP/Streetscape Grant. Danny Cooper who works with the Committee and also serves as Chair of the GCIDA read the letter aloud in the Council meeting.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson asked the Mayor what had he done to meet the Council concerns that the city workers be brought back to working 40 hours, to secure proper equipment to maintain the streets and provide an audit and a budget of city finances. Johnson said, “City workers are picking up trash with pitchforks. We cannot maintain the streets after the grant without proper equipment.”
Mayor Steele indicated that he had agreed for city workers to come back to work for 40 hours as of March 15. The Mayor said he was seeking funding through USDA Rural Development for new police cars, a street excavator, trucks and other equipment. The USDA grant requires an audit of city funds for the past years, so the Mayor has secured a CPA in Tuscaloosa to provide the necessary audit. Using information from the audit, the Mayor said he could do a budget projecting the income and expenses of the city and satisfying the Council’s request for a budget. The budget would allow the City to determine which new expenses, including matching the TAP grant, that it could afford in the future.
Based on the Mayor’s assurances, Councilwoman Johnson moved “that the City proceed to do the engineering for the TAP project, based on the funds offered by the GCIDA, and continue to evaluate the viability of the project based on continued progress toward the concerns raised by the Council.” This motion was approved 3-1-1 with Johnson, Joe Lee Powell and the Mayor voting in favor; Sheila Smith voting against and LaJeffrey Carpenter abstaining; Bennie Abrams was absent.
The vote allows the Mayor to move forward with engineering needed for the Streetscape project while the Council holds him accountable for changes that he promised.
In other actions, the Council approved the following items over the past three meetings:
• Approved ‘Back to School’ Sales Tax Holiday for July 19-21, 2019.

• Approved proclamation designing April as Fair Housing Month.

• Approved expenditure of $9,000 for speed bumps on the newly improved Branch Heights roads, for safety of children and residents.

• Supports Memorandum of Understanding with the Community Services Programs of West Alabama, to distribute food and other services to Eutaw residents.

• Approved contract with RDS to collect sales taxes and business license fees.

• Approved ordinance to declare building adjacent to the National Guard Armory surplus, so that it can be used for other purposes.

• Approved letter to State Legislative Delegation in support of Sunday liquor sales in the City of Eutaw.

Newswire: Rep. Bennie Thompson wins efforts to make Medgar Evers Home National Monument

Meager Evers

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

On June 12, 1963, voting rights activist Medgar Evers was shot dead outside his home in Jackson Mississippi. Evers, who was a World War II veteran, was the NAACP field secretary in Mississippi.

He was murdered by Byron de la Beckwith, a white supremacist, Klansman and member of the White Citizens’ Council. Evers’ killer would not be convicted until 1994, after an all-white jury deadlocked in 1964 allowing de la Beckwith to roam unpunished for Evers’ murder for three decades.
Because of the work of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the Evers’ house at 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive in Jackson, will now become a national historic landmark. The house where Medgar Evers’ was fatally shot was built in the first planned middle-class subdivision for African-Americans in Mississippi after World War II. Thompson has been working on the honor for Evers for over ten years.

The home was owned by Tougaloo College and later restored for tours. In 2017, Edgars’ home was designated a National Historic Landmark. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed March 12, 2019, included language that designates Evers’ home as a national monument.

On January 14, Rep. Thompson reintroduced the Medgar Evers Home National Monument Act. “In my capacity as Congressman of the Second Congressional District of Mississippi, to author this legislation to honor the sacrifice of Civil Rights Icon Medgar Evers and his widow, Myrlie, by designating their home as
a National Monument. This legislation is of great personal importance to me. I, like many others, was inspired by the magnitude of determination Mr. Evers showed by dedicating himself to others and fighting against adversity. The designation of his home is an everlasting tribute to his legacy.”

Evers worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and end the segregation of public places. Ironically, the hospital that Evers was admitted to, after a delay, was the first time that an all-white hospital in Mississippi admitted an African American.

In October 2009, then Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, announced that USNS Medgar Evers, a cargo ship, would be named in his honor. The ship was christened by his wife, Myrlie Evers-Williams on November 12, 2011.
Medgar Evers, who served in the U.S. Army, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Greene County hospital board and staff ask commission for 3 mil tax for local health services

On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, five members of the board of the Greene County Health System (GCHS) led by Chairperson, John Zippert and Eddie Austin, Lucy Spann, Pennia Hines and Margarite Bir, as well as several GCHS senior staff, attended the Commission Work-session at which items are discussed before being placed on the Commission’s regular meeting agenda.
The GCHS delegation asked the Commission to approve a three (3) mil increase in the Greene County ad valorem property tax for the benefit of the Hospital, Nursing Home and Physicians Clinic. Zippert explained that this increase would yield $500,000 in new revenues to support the work of the hospital in covering its financial deficit for providing an average of $100,000 per month in ‘uncompensated care’ to Greene County residents who are too poor to afford health care or health insurance.
After approval of the tax increase by the County Commission, the measure would have to be advertised as local legislation for four weeks, then approved by the Legislature, signed by the Governor and placed on the ballot for a vote by the citizens of Greene County in the next General Election (November 2020).
The Commission listened carefully to the proposal and then said that they would not place the request for a tax increase on the main agenda until a more comprehensive proposal could be developed. Commissioner Allen Turner, speaking for the Commission said, “We will not put forth a tax increase for one agency, like the hospital. We want to present a tax increase for the hospital and other needs of recreation for youth, nutrition for senior citizens and general support for the work of the Commission. We feel a single issue tax request will not be approved by the voters of Greene County.”
GCHS Board members expressed some disappointment with the actions of the Commission but said they would monitor the situation and continue to push for needed tax revenues to keep the hospital open and operating without a deficit.

County Commission Meeting

In its monthly meeting held Monday, March 12, 2019, the County Commission approved hiring an employee for the County’s Probate Office. The individual was recommended by the county’s newly elected Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth. The commission took action on the following:

  • Approved parking lot stripes at the courthouse, highway department, activity center and library.
  • Approved re-appointment of Debbie Duncan to Industrial Development Authority.
  • Approved travel to various conferences for the county engineer, assistant engineer, human resource coordinator and coroner.
  • Approved financial report, payment of claims and budget amendments.
    The commission declined to hire a bus drive for the Eutaw Nutrition Site.
    The meeting was adjourned following an executive session and public comments.

School board into superintendent search; begins interviews with AASB consultant

At its monthly meeting held Monday, March 11, 2019, the Greene County Board of Education continued its preparations in search of a new school superintendent. At its February meeting, the board engaged the Alabama Association of School Boards to assist in its superintendent search.
To move the process forward, the board approved the following: Contract between Board and AASB; Set Superintendent’s Minimum Salary; Qualifications for Superintendent; Board Members one on one meeting with Dr. Linda Ingram; Superintendent Search Timeline and Superintendent Search Survey.
Dr. Linda Ingram, representing the AASB, was present to begin individual interviews of each board member. Dr. Ingram will also conduct surveys and interviews in the local community. According to AASB, “The purpose of these interviews is to allow the consultant to gather information from the community on what it believes to be the strengths of the system, the challenges a new superintendent will face coming into that system and the qualifications and characteristics the community expects in a new superintendent.”
In other business the board approved the following personnel items:

  • Reassignment – Maintenance Staff: Jerome Jackson from Robert Brown Middle School to Eutaw Primary School; Jamar Jackson, from Greene County High School to Robert Brown Middle School; Samuel Newton, from Eutaw Primary School to Greene County Career Center.
    Supplemental contracts – Greene County High School – These contracts will conclude at the end of this school year: Karon Coleman, Head Football Coach; Corey Cockrell, Assistant Head Football Coach; Russell Rivers, Defense Coordinator; Justin Booth, Assistant Football Coach; Jocephus Patrick, Assistant Football Coach; Jacob Sullivan, Assistant Baseball Coach.
    Termination: Latoya Consentine, School Bus Driver, Department of Transportation.
    The board approved the following Administrative Services recommended by the superintendent.
  • First reading for Greene County School System Medication Policy; Automated External Defibrillator Policy and Health Policy.
  • School calendar for 2019-2020 school year.
  • Payment of all bills and payroll.

Newswire : Cops in two cities not charged in shooting deaths of unarmed Black men

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

Stephon Clark

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said yesterday that he will not charge two Sacramento, California, police officers who shot to death an unarmed black man in the backyard of his grandmother’s home.
An independent investigation into the shooting death of Stephon Clark found that no criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting can be sustained, Becerra said in a statement.

Sacramento police officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal, who is black, shot to death the 22-year-old Clark in March of 2018. The cops said they believed Clark was armed with a gun. They were wrong. He held only a cell phone in his hand.
An independent autopsy found that Clark was shot eight times —- six times in the back, once in the side and once in one arm.
Becerra announced his decision two days after Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she would not charge the two cops.

During the same time period, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday that it would not pursue civil rights charges against former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Joe Shelby, who shot to death Terrence Crutcher, 40, on September 16, 2016. Crutcher’s car was disabled. Crutcher had his hands raised in the air to surrender when Shelby murdered him.

Newswire : If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you

By Steven Mufson and Tracy Jan, The Washington Post

If you’re a poor person in America, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal is not for you.
Trump has unveiled a budget that would slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.
These cuts to smaller programs that are targeted to poor people are in addition to major cuts of $735 billion in Medicare, $250 billion in Medicaid and $250 billion in Social Security benefits.
During the presidential campaign last year, Trump vowed that the solution to poverty was giving poor people incentives to work. But most of the proposed cuts in his budget target programs designed to help the working poor, as well as those who are jobless, cope.
“This is a budget that pulled the rug out from working families and hurts the very people who President Trump promised to stand up for in rural America and in small towns,” said Melissa Boteach, vice president of the poverty to prosperity program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.
The White House budget cuts will fall hardest on the rural and small town communities that Trump won, where one in three people are living paycheck to paycheck – a rate that is 24 percent higher than in urban counties, according to a new analysis by the center.
The budget proposes housing “reforms” that add up to more than $6 billion in cuts while promising to continue assisting the nation’s 4.5 million low-income households. If enacted, the proposed budget would result in the most severe cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development since the early 1980s, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
It would also eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies.
The administration’s reforms include eliminating funding for a $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continuously run HUD programs that’s been in existence since 1974.
The program provides cities and rural small towns with money to address a range of community development needs such as affordable housing, rehabilitating homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures, and preventing or eliminating slums and community blight. It also provides funding for Meals on Wheels, a national nonprofit that delivers food to homebound seniors.
Robert Rector, a senior fellow who focuses on welfare at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, calls the community block grants a “slush fund for urban government.”
The White House touts its cuts to what the administration characterizes as “a number of lower priority programs” as a way to “promote fiscal responsibility.” In actuality, it guts federal funding for affordable housing and kicks the financial responsibility of those programs to states and local governments.
Gone would be $35 million in funding for well-known programs such as Habitat for Humanity and YouthBuild USA, fair housing planning, and homeless assistance, among other housing help for needy Americans.
Poor people need not lean on community banks for financial help either, because Trump plans to eliminate the $210 million now dedicated towards Community Development Financial Institutions. The program, administered through the Treasury Department, invests in community banks that provide loans and financial services to people living in some of the most distressed communities of the country.
“Cutting that program would be nothing short of a disaster and the ripple effect would be felt in urban areas and some rural areas all over America,” said Michael A. Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, a lobbying group for black-owned banks.
The administration would also eliminate the Energy Department’s weatherization assistance program, which dates back to 1976 when Gerald Ford was president. Since then, it has given grants to states that have helped insulate the homes of about 7 million families with low-cost techniques that have large payoffs, saving money for those families and curtailing U.S. energy consumption. It has also helped establish weatherization job training centers in states such as Utah and New York.
Also on the chopping block: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known widely by its acronym LIHEAP. This program, part of the Health and Human Services budget, helps homeowners cover monthly energy costs, or repair broken or inefficient furnaces and air conditioners. The program is usually underfunded; LIHEAP says that on average, only about 20 percent of the households that qualify for assistance receive benefits before the money run out. Congress sometimes adds funding during emergencies or energy shortages when costs spike.
Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, a $715-million program within HHS that funds more than 1,000 local anti-poverty organizations around the country. The organizations provide services ranging from job training to food assistance to more than 16 million people in 3,000 counties. The grants also help communities respond quickly to natural disasters, plant closures and other economic shifts.
Without the grants, there would be little coordination between faith groups, local governments, private companies and nonprofits in addressing the needs of the poor – “just a few unconnected programs that don’t have nearly the impact they have now,” said David Bradley, who founded the National Community Action Foundation and wrote the legislation behind the grants in the early ’80s.
The Trump budget would also target the Legal Services Corp., an independent agency that provided $343 million to 134 legal aid organizations for the poor who are tangled up in cases of wrongful eviction, custody disputes, child support or domestic violence.
In 2015, Legal Services offices closed 755,774 cases – more than 100 for every lawyer and paralegal employed. About 70 percent of its clients are women, and the majority of its clients are white and between the ages of 36 and 59. The program provides lawyers only to people earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is currently $15,075 for an individual and $30,750 for a family of four.
The budget would also zero out funds to help native Alaskan villages obtain access to clean drinking water and modern sewage systems.
Cuts to the Agriculture budget also eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority that encourage economic growth in distressed rural communities. And while the budget allocates $6.2 billion to “serve all projected participants” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, that is $150 million less than USDA had budgeted.
The White House proposed shrinking Job Corps, a program administered by the Labor Department that provides education and job training to more than 60,000 young and disadvantaged youth. The proposal called for closing centers that do a “poor job” of preparing students for the workforce, but did not elaborate how many of the 125 centers nationwide would be targeted.
Job Corps, which was created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s anti-poverty agenda, helps young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 earn high school diplomas and receive vocational training.

Senator Doug Jones and Terri Sewell introduce bills to incentivize Alabama, 13 other states to expand Medicaid

Birmingham, Ala. – U.S. Senator Doug Jones last week led a press conference with Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) and community health care leaders to discuss their Medicaid expansion legislation, the States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019, and to call on leaders in Alabama to take action to expand Medicaid. 
This legislation would ensure that states that chose to expand Medicaid after 2014 are eligible for the same level of federal matching funds as states that expanded Medicaid earlier. Alabama, along with 13 other states, has yet to expand Medicaid.
 “I’m not sure that there is anything more important to the future of Alabama than the expansion of Medicaid. We’re losing dollars, and we’re seeing rural hospitals closing year after year, and other hospitals are struggling. This should be a non-partisan issue. Fourteen states with Republican governors have expanded Medicaid, including the state of Indiana under our Vice President, then-Governor Mike Pence,” Senator Jones said.
Senator Jones continued, “Now, we have the evidence that states that expanded Medicaid had better health outcomes, and was a boon to those states’ economies. We can grow the economies of those communities, and grow the economy of Alabama. We really just can’t afford to let another hospital shutter its doors because of this issue…. It is a no-brainer for the state of Alabama.” 
Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) said,  “I want to stand with Senator Jones and these folks on the front lines to try to get Alabama to expand Medicaid. I think it’s critically important that state and federal officials work together, and with this bill we have a chance to do that. I can’t tell you of a more critical problem that we have in Alabama than our rural hospital situation. It’s dire straits in the Black Belt. I stand with Doug Jones today, and I stand with practitioners and other officials who are just asking the state to do the right thing and expand Medicaid. I beg Governor Ivey to take a look at this bill.”

Rural Hospitals issue warnings

For years, leaders at Alabama’s rural hospitals have been warning public officials about the financial cliff they are facing, in large part as a result of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Since 2011, 13 hospitals have closed in Alabama, and seven of those hospitals have been in rural areas. Even now, approximately 88 percent of rural Alabama hospitals are operating in the red. The Alabama Hospital Association estimates that some 326,000 Alabamians would gain health care coverage if Medicaid were expanded in the state.

 “By refusing to expand Medicaid, Alabama has turned away $14 billion of our own taxpayer dollars. For years, those dollars could have helped keep our hospitals open, support good jobs in our communities, and provide health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Alabamians. This isn’t a partisan issue – expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do,” Senator Jones said. “Alabama can no longer afford not to expand, and our SAME Act legislation would ensure that states will get a fair deal when they do. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Capitol Hill, to support this common sense bill.”
Numerous studies have shown that expanding Medicaid benefits states economically by increasing jobs and earnings growth, generating federal revenue, increasing Gross State Product, increasing state and local revenues and reducing uncompensated care and hospital costs. If Alabama had expanded Medicaid five years ago, it could have yielded a $935 million net increase in tax revenue for the state, and could have led to approximately 12,000 new jobs across all sectors of Alabama’s economy in 2016 alone.
 “It’s crazy that for so many years, Virginia taxpayers were footing the bill for states that had already expanded Medicaid. Today, Medicaid expansion is bringing billions of tax dollars back home to Virginia, and more than 400,000 Virginians have gained access to quality, low-cost or no-cost Medicaid coverage,” said Senator Warner, a former Governor of Virginia. “This bill will bring even more federal dollars back to Virginia by making sure that we get the same deal from the federal government as states that expanded back in 2014.”
 The States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019 is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). The bill was recently re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and co-sponsored by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07). This bill may be combined with others seeking to improve and reorganize the Affordable Care Act.
 
Background
 
Medicaid is a joint federal and state insurance program that covers medical costs for eligible low-income Americans. In 2010, states were given the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Under this deal, the federal government would cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, and gradually step down to cover 90 percent permanently. 
 The SAME Act would ensure that any states that choose to expand Medicaid get a second chance to receive these same levels of federal funding. Under this bill, a state would receive three years of full federal funding, phasing down to a 95 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) in Year 4; a 94 percent federal contribution in Year 5; 93 percent in Year 6; and, 90 percent for each year thereafter. Alabama alone would receive $2 billion in federal dollars the first year after expansion.
 Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have already expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and three more states – Idaho, Utah and Nebraska – have passed ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid. Fourteen states, including Alabama, have not yet expanded their programs. In states that have failed to expand Medicaid, more than 2 million low-income adults fall into a “coverage gap,” due to incomes that are too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but are too low to meet the limit that would allow them to receive tax credits to purchase affordable coverage in the health care marketplace. Without Medicaid expansion, most of these individuals are likely to remain uninsured, as they have limited access to employer coverage and frequently find the cost of unsubsidized marketplace coverage to be prohibitively expensive.

Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee attended by thousands; Pushes theme of “Lift Our Vote 2020-Voting Rights Under Fire”

Before the re-enactment of the 1965 Blood Sunday March, 400 marchers in orange vests lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate the 400th anniversary of importation and enslavement of African people in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. When the protestors stood up they each had a Manifesto to end voter suppression and reclaim voting rights in their hands.

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher
Despite stormy weather, thousands attended the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, this past weekend in Selma, Alabama. Part a commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday March for Voting Rights”; part a celebration of civil and voting progress in our nation; and part a recommitment to social change activism to correct voter suppression and bring more equity and dignity to the struggle for human rights in America.
The Jubilee was a combination of more than 40 events including workshops, a parade, a golf tournament; a unity breakfast, several award presentations, the “Foot Soldiers breakfast”, a beauty pageant, a mock trial, the “Freedom Flame dinner”, and the March re-enactment on Sunday afternoon.
Former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said at the opening Mass Meeting, at Tabernacle Baptist Church, on Thursday night, “the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee is the largest civil rights gathering in the nation, dedicated to furthering voting rights and human rights for people in our country and around the world.”
Sanders recalled that over 80,000 people attended the 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday in 2015, when President Obama attended and 110,000 people came to march that Sunday.
Attorney Faya Rose Toure (Sanders) who coordinates the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, said, “ We want to celebrate the courage of the people in the 1960’s who led the voting rights movement from Selma, but we must also recognize the current day’s rampant voter suppression in this country and the fact that Selma is the ninth poorest city in America with a high rate of crime and homicides.”

Faya Rose also pointed out that 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the enslavement of African people in north America, with the importation of twenty Black workers to the British colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. There was an event where 400 people lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate this anniversary. The lay-in was delayed by bad weather and a tornado warning but did take place before the larger crowd of thousands re-enacted the 1965 Bloody Sunday Voting Rights March. “We were beaten on the bridge in 1965 but we are lying down in 2019 and rising up to end voter suppression and lifting our voices and votes to change oppressive conditions for all people,” said Faya Rose Toure.
A highlight of the Jubilee was Sunday morning’s Unity Breakfast held at Wallace Community College in Selma. More than a thousand people attended to witness Hillary Clinton receive the International Unity Award, as well as to meet and listen to several Presidential candidates including Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown. The breakfast also heard greetings from civil rights leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. William Barber, Charles Steele and other local leaders like newly elected State Senator Malika Sanders Fortier and Congresswomen Terri Sewell.
In presenting the International Unity Award to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Hank Sanders said, “Secretary Clinton was elected President in 2016, but the election was stolen from her by the FBI reporting on her emails, the Russians hacking into the Democratic Party and sending false messages on social media. She deserves this award for standing up for women’s rights and human rights across the globe.”
Faya Rose Toure inducted Hillary Clinton into the Women’s Hall of Fame at the National Voting Rights Museum.
In her remarks, in accepting the awards, Clinton said, “ I am honored and humbled to receive these awards for my work for women, voting and human rights. But we have urgent unfinished work to protect fundamental rights, freedom of the press, and ending voter suppression. There is a crisis in this country and it is up to us to address it.”
“We must show up and vote every time in every election. We must di this step by step, year by year, door by door, to reclaim our democracy,” said Clinton.
In his remarks, Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said, “ I must express my thanks to Faya Rose and Hank Sanders for keeping this Bridge Crossing Jubilee going year after year and to the people of Selma, the birthplace of modern democracy in America. Since the 2018 elections, we have 55 Black Congress-people, 38 Latino and Latinas, 20 Asian Americans and over 100 women. All of these people, and many more state and local public officials, owe their positions to the voting rights struggle in Selma in 1965. But Selma is still suffering with a 40% poverty rate. We need to push the government for a ’rural reconstruction plan and project in Selma and surrounding counties of the Alabama Black Belt’, just like we rebuild Europe with the Marshall Plan after World War II,” said Rev. Jackson.

Greene County Civil Rights Movement leads to countywide election of Black officials

The early Civil Rights Movement in Greene County, spawned by the youth who boycotted the local schools in 1965, including Carver High School, Greene County Training School and Eatman Jr. High School, gave rise to the growing movement for Black voter registration and interest in seeking political office. Reportedly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Greene County in 1965 and spoke at the First Baptist Church in Eutaw, urging the Black community to continue to organize and “vote themselves into office.”
Although, the demonstrations, marches, and boycott of local merchants resulted in great physical harm, displacement from homes and farms, continued threats of violence to the Black community, the Greene County Movement had grounded itself and attracted others outside the county to give assistance including legal aid and training in community non-violent protest.
At this time Rev. Peter J. Kirksey of the Dollarhide community was serving as the first Black elected official in Greene County, as a member of the Greene County Board of Education. In 1968, six Blacks qualified for the Primary Election as candidates of the newly organized National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA), under the leadership of Dr. John Cashin, from Huntsville, AL. However, the names of the four Black candidates for Greene County Commission and the two Black candidates for Greene County Board of Education were not placed on the official Greene County Ballot for the 1968 election. The Black NDPA candidates for county commission were Vassie Knott, Harry C. Means, Levi Morrow, Sr., and Franchie Burton. The two schools board candidates were Robert Hines and James A. Posey. All six filed suit in federal court for a new election, with the U.S. Justice Department intervening as a “friend of the court.” The case was before the Supreme Court and the Justice Department asked for an injunction to “…set aside the election of six white candidates elected to the disputed county offices on the regular Democratic Party ticket.” The plaintiffs won their suit and the court ordered a new election which was held July 29, 1969.
The Special Election of 1969 gave Blacks majority control of the Greene County Commission and the Greene County Board of Education. The newly elected officials assumed their duties on August 1, 1969.
The school board elected Mr. Peter J. Kirksey as Board President and the board proceeded to initiated administrative changes in the school system. Orzell Billingsley of Birmingham, who had been active in the Greene County Civil Rights Movement was hired as school board attorney. The first Black superintendent of schools, Robert Brown, was hired in 1970.
In 1970, the NDPA sponsored another slate of candidates for the Primary Election: William M. Branch for Probate Judge; Thomas Gilmore for Sheriff; W.D. Lewis for State Representative; Earsrie Chambers and John Head for School Board; Wadine Williams for Circuit Clerk; Abner Milton for Coroner and Jack Drake for Circuit Judge, 17th Judicial District. Drake was subsequently disqualified since he did not meet the residential requirements in Greene County.
The results of the Nov. 3, 1970 General Election as reported in the Greene County Democrat newspaper were as follows: Greene Countians cast 4,700 ballots. Branch defeated Herndon for probate judge by 92 votes; Gilmore defeated Lee for sheriff by 87 votes; Williams defeated Yarbrough for circuit clerk by 178 votes; Milton defeated Brown for coroner by 117 votes; Chambers defeated Eatman for school board by 139 votes; Head defeated Wright for school board by 134 votes.
Since 1970, with a population of 80% African American, Greene County has maintained majority positions on the county commission, school board and has continued to elect Blacks to other county offices including sheriff, probate judge, circuit clerk, coroner and circuit judge.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Sherrod Brown and Cory Booker will all attend the Sunday Unity Breakfast Democratic Presidential candidates to attend Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma this weekend

SELMA, AL – “The Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast is power-packed this year. In fact, it is more power-packed than any breakfast we have ever had,” said former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders. The Breakfast is this Sunday, March 3rd, at 7:30 a.m. on the campus of Wallace Community College Selma.
Dr. James Mitchell, President of Wallace Community College Selma, said: “It is great for this college to host the Annual Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast on our campus. It is great for the students, faculty, community, and all those connected with the college to see and hear from national and world-recognized leaders up close. This is always a powerful event, and this year promises to be even more powerful.”
“The world-renowned Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for President in 2016 and who received three million more popular votes than her opponent, is being honored. She is known all over the world for her work as U.S. Secretary of State and her advancement of women’s rights. She will be inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame at the National Voting Rights Museum and will receive the International Unity Award at the King Unity Breakfast,” said Sanders.
At this same breakfast, we will have U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who was Secretary Clinton’s chief competitor for the Democratic nomination in 2016 and is running again for President in 2020. We will also have three other 2020 presidential candidates speaking at the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast: U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro; and U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
“Other speakers will include Martin Luther King, III; Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Dr. Charles Steele, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); and Barbara Arnwine, President of the Transformative Justice Coalition. There will also be powerful singing performances by the original SNCC Freedom Singers and mutli-award winner and gospel legend Dottie Peoples,” said Sanders.
The 2019 Bridge Crossing Jubilee begins this Thursday, February 28th, at 7:00 p.m. with an Old Fashion Mass Meeting with Reverend Jamal Bryant, of Atlanta and formerly of Baltimore, at Tabernacle Baptist Church. There are 40-50 events during the Jubilee, most of which are free to the public, from Thursday, February 28th, through Sunday, March 3rd.
Friday includes many workshops, including an all day Education Summit starting at 8:00 AM at the Hank Sanders Technology Building at Wallace Community College; the 5:00 p.m. Mock Trial at the Dallas County Courthouse; children and youth activities; the annual A Public Conversation with Mark Thompson, host of Make It Plain on SiriusXM Channel 127 and MSNBC Contributor, and others; and other events. MSNBC will be in Selma from Friday through Sunday providing coverage.
Saturday morning are two work sessions at Wallace Community College Selma to kick off a national nonpartisan voting initiative, Lift Our Vote 2020. National Bridge Crossing Jubilee Coordinator Faya Toure said: “The Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday afternoon in downtown Selma with diverse musical performances, arts, food and so much more.
Saturday also includes the Hip Hop Youth Summit, the annual parade and more. The Annual Freedom Flame Awards Gala, which is filled with nationally and internationally renowned honorees, on Saturday at 7:00 p.m., culminates a day overflowing with events that include something for all, no matter your age, race, gender,