Bingo entities provide $372,455 to county recipients for February

Shown above Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd, Forkland Clerk Kinya Isaac, Union Councilwoman Rosie Davis, Greene County Heath System CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Brenda Burke representing Greene County Commission, Assistant Chief of Police Walter Beck representing the City of Eutaw, Boligee City Councilwoman Ernestine Wade and Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson

Thursday, March 21, 2019 the Greene County Sheriff Department reported a total distribution of $372,455 for the month of February, 2019 from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $65,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $5,000.

Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.
River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,125 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,125.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.

Eutaw Mayor and City Council in disagreement on major issues

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

At Tuesday night’s meeting on March 26, 2019, Mayor Raymond Steele and the Eutaw City Council remain divided over major issues.
In response to the written agenda passed out for the meeting, Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter asked to place two additional items on the agenda, including a request for an Executive Session on a personnel issue and a follow-up to the council’s resolution on check signing.
Mayor Steele was visibly distressed and said that council members should bring their agenda suggestions to him before the meeting so that they can be reviewed and the staff can prepare a response and provide information that is needed. The Council added these items to the agenda over the Mayor’s objections.
After a short eight minute Executive Session, the Council reconvened and asked the Mayor if he had implemented a resolution they passed at the January 22, 2019 meeting, which removed the Mayor as the signatory on most city bank accounts and made Councilmembers Joe Lee Powell and LaJeffrey Carpenter along with City Clerk, Kathy Bir as the designated signatories on these accounts.
Mayor Steele said he had not implemented the change because he had not been given reasons for changing the signatories. “ I am in charge of the day to day business of the City, it is critical that the Mayor be able to sign checks. I do not have any problem with adding other signatories to the accounts. You will not tell me why you don’t want me to sign –
This is not right.”
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson asked City Attorney, Zane Willingham, to prepare written instructions for the City Council as to “what to do when the Mayor does not implement policies and actions decided and approved by the Council.” The Council in a resolution approved these instructions.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson also indicated that the Mayor had not implemented the policy, also adopted in the January 22, 2019 meeting, that cash would not be accepted to pay water bills and other obligations to the City. Johnson said,
“Cash is still being accepted, no signs have been posted as we requested. The Mayor has decided on his own not to implement this policy on taking cash approved by the City Council.”
Councilwoman Sheila Smith questioned the Mayor about problems with the water bills. “Too many residents are paying the minimum water bill of $38.58 for residences and $58.38 for businesses. The water meters or the water meter reading system is not working properly and we are loosing money we need to pay for the water system and operate the city.”
Mayor Steele said that all of the new meters have been checked and are working properly. He said that he would review this problem again and try to find a solution.

The Council was given a detailed report on bills to be paid for the month of March. Several Councilmembers objected that they we given the information about the bills late and did not have time to study the expenditures. Payment of the bills was tabled until the next meeting to give the Council members time to review.
LaJeffrey Carpenter asked Mayor Steele why he had only re-paved the roads in Branch Heights, while the roads in King Village, Carver Circle and other parts city also needed similar repairs. The mayor in exasperation answered, “ You know we agreed to the roads in Branch Heights as a special project. We do not have enough money at this time to do all of the roads or make all of the repairs that the Council is requesting.”

The Mayor indicated that he was trying to get some disaster relief funds allocated to the City of Eutaw for street repairs since the recent rains had eroded some of the streets.

Mayor Steele said he was still working on an audit which was necessary to secure funding for new police cars and construction equipment from USDA Rural Development.
“The equipment we have is worn out and more than ten years old. We have no new tax base and limited funds to pay for needed improvements to the City. When we start earning new taxes from the Love’s Truck Stop, then we may be able to afford the repairs and improvements needed by the City,” said Mayor Steele.
Councilmembers responded that this was why they were asking for a budget and audit so they could understand and project the City’s finances to pay current obligations and plan for future expenditures.
In other actions, the Eutaw City Council approved a retail beer and wine license for Love’s truck Stop and publication for four week’s of the City’s request for Sunday alcohol sales, which will generate some additional revenues.

Newswire : Pfizer, Sickle Cell advocates address disease during Black Press Week

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Panel on Sickle Cell Disease


National Sickle Cell Advocacy Day 2019 is a great time to focus on key legislative issues that are important to individuals and their families who are living with the blood cell disorder, including promoting stable funding for research, better healthcare access, expanded programs and increased education and awareness for the Sickle Cell Disease community and programs throughout the country.
Lori Luck, the global medical director for Pfizer Rare Disease, joined Beverley Frances-Gibson, the president and CEO of the SCD Association of America; and Angie Snyder, a professor at Georgia State University, to discuss the latest in Sickle Cell Disease advocacy during Black Press Week in Washington, D.C.
The discussion came ahead of National Sickle Cell Advocacy Day, which is actually held over two days on April 8 and April 9 at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University in Washington.
The event features advocacy training and meetings with legislative champions and a collaboration of federal partners, as advocates attempt to raise awareness to the disease which affects about 100,000 Americans and occurs among nearly 1 out of every 365 black or African American births.
According to researchers, the illness occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic American births and about 1 in 13 black or African American babies are born with sickle cell trait, meaning that the individual has inherited the sickle cell gene from one of his or her parents.
“We’re educators and we’re not only educating internal clients but external as well,” said Luck, who noted that Pfizer has partnerships with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other organizations.
The company also has a partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade association of more than 200 African-American–owned community newspapers from around the United States.
The partnership is a collaboration to raise awareness of sickle cell disease, a lifelong and debilitating genetic disorder that affects red blood cells.
People with rare diseases, like sickle cell disease, have unique and complex challenges and the Pfizer partnership provides an opportunity for NNPA to inform and educate readers of Black-owned newspapers in more than 70 markets across the country on sickle cell disease, which NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said is an often misunderstood disease that has a profound impact on the health and well-being of those affected.
“Together with Pfizer, we look forward to providing sickle cell disease education that can underscore the importance of improving quality of care in the community,” Chavis said.
Snyder, whose work at Georgia State University includes researching and advocating for the sickle cell disease community, said it’s important that everyone is educated.
“We have to continue to study on what works and doesn’t work for people,” she said.
Francis-Gibson said conversations must take place in and outside the home. “Sickle Cell Disease is personal for me because I have a family member who died from sickle cell disease when I was in high school,” Francis-Gibson said.
“We never discussed it and when I was offered my current position I knew it was my calling because if my own family isn’t discussing sickle cell disease, I knew that other families weren’t discussing it either,” she said.
In December, a bi-partisan bill aimed at fighting sickle disease was signed into law by President Donald Trump.
The Sickle Cell Disease and Other Heritable Blood Disorders Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act of 2018 was introduced by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., in February 2018 and passed in the Senate in October.
The bill also reauthorizes a current sickle cell disease prevention and treatment program for nearly $5 million each year over the next five years.
“Even though sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in our country, research and treatment lags behind that of other chronic illnesses,” Booker said in a statement.
“Our legislation will help find new ways to improve the lives of people suffering from sickle cell disease. It’s time we start treating sickle cell disease as a serious and debilitating illness and allocate adequate resources to monitoring, researching, and treating it,” he said.
Francis-Gibson said advocacy for funding the bill is still needed.
“It’s important everyone comes out during National Sickle Cell Advocacy Day and join me on Capitol Hill because when I’m speaking to the legislators, it’s much better when they look and see all of the people behind me,” she said.
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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.

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.

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.

Newswire : Thousands uprooted from safe haven now desperate for food, water and shelter

Nigerian refugees


Mar. 4, 2019 (GIN) – An estimated 30,000 refugees have been uprooted by officials in Cameroon and Nigeria this month and sent to known hotbeds of insurgents including Boko Haram on the Nigerian side of the border.

Humanitarian groups including Action against Hunger are questioning the wisdom of forcing refugees to move to the city of Rann in Borno state, the epicentre of the decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 27,000.

“Reports from sources on the ground indicate that these people are in dire need of aid,” a UN briefing note stated.

There were also questions about whether the returns complied with international law on refugees, which require returns to be voluntary, the Agence France Press reported.

International and national humanitarian organizations abandoned Rann in January due to ongoing insecurity.

Shashwat Saraf, the country director of Action Against Hunger in Nigeria, said it was “difficult to imagine” it being safe for anyone to return. “Alarming” levels of severe acute malnutrition were found among children under five, he said.

The mass movement of internally displaced people comes as President Muhammadu Buhari takes office for a second term, having been declared the winner of a national election marred by mechanical errors with the voter card readers, a weeklong postponement, reports of vote-buying, and extremist attacks in the northeast.

Voter turnout was at a historic low at 35.6 percent of the population.

“The numbers alone are indicting,” said Adewunmi Emoruwa of The Election Network. “We have witnessed a record number of cancelled votes – more than double the numbers from the previous poll – and which is only a reflection of the widespread irregularities across every part of the country. We all observed as thugs had a field day unleashing terror on demographically profiled voters, which led to the suppressed turnout that has been recorded.”

Buhari won in 19 states – including the two most populous, Lagos and Kano – while the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was victorious in 17.

The two men are both northern Muslims in their 70s who have long been in politics. Buhari is seen by many as a strict, inflexible but personally incorruptible figure, while many hoped Atiku, a wealthy businessman and former vice-president, would enact policies to help boost Nigeria’s struggling economy.The opposition has rejected the vote outcome.

Newswire: New interactive website featuring Henry Louis Gates, tracks slave voyages

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Henry Louis Gates and images from a slave ship; diagram of a slave ship

In his PBS series, “Finding Your Roots …” Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents guests whose roots cover the globe – from Samoa, Nigeria, Taiwan and Sicily to Iran, Ireland, India and Cuba – and almost everywhere in between.
Each episode weaves together their stories, gleaned from cutting-edge DNA analysis and old school genealogical detective work.
And, at the center of it all and guiding every discovery is Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
Gates is also now featured on a newly updated website, slavevoyages.org, which contains databases of the Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American slave trade.
The databases are the culmination of several decades of independent and collaborative research by scholars who draw upon information in libraries and archives around the world, according to a news release.
The new slave voyages website counts as the product of three years of development by a multi-disciplinary team of historians, librarians, curriculum specialists, cartographers, computer programmers, and web designers, in consultation with scholars of the slave trade from universities in Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.
Among the many unique features are an African names database.
The producers of the site note that during the last 60 years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, courts around the Atlantic basins condemned over 2,000 vessels for engaging in slave trafficking and recorded the details of captives found on board those ships, including African names.
Links are provided to the ships in the Voyages Database from which the liberated Africans were rescued, as well as to the African Origins site where users can hear the names pronounced and help us identify the languages they think the names originated from or are used.
The site also takes a deep look at the slave trade within the Americas, which, after the initial disembarkation of African captives in the New World, has received scant attention from historians, especially for the period prior to the abolition of transatlantic slave traffic.
An article on the site examines similar types of intra-American trafficking as an introduction to the launching of the Intra-American Slave Trade Database, which aims to document evidence of slave voyages throughout the New World.
“The site now offers access to details of more than 36,000 slave trading voyages between Africa and the New World; 11,000 voyages from one part of the Americas to another part; and 92,000 Africans who were forced to take the voyage,” Gates said.
“Users can analyze data and view video and they can contribute corrections and add information on voyages the editors don’t even know about,” he said. The website allows viewers to explore the dispersal of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic world.
According to the website, the digital memorial raises questions about the largest slave trades in history and offers access to the documentation available to answer them.
It recounts how European colonizers turned to Africa for enslaved laborers to build the cities and extract the resources of the Americas. Also, how those colonizers forced millions of mostly unnamed Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas, and from one part of the Americas to another.
Those viewing the website can analyze these slave trades and view interactive maps, timelines, and animations to see the dispersal.
Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the work on the site was done at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of California at Santa Cruz with the Hutchins Center of Harvard University providing support.
“I find it inspiring that our fellow Americans are so determined to explore their own ancestral heritage,” Gates noted.

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.

Newswire : Sewell, Leahy introduce The Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR – 4)

U.S. Rep.
Terri Sewell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation today to help address the most egregious forms of recent voter suppression by developing a process to determine which states and localities with a recent history of voting rights violations must pre-clear election changes with the Department of Justice.

“In my hometown of Selma and throughout Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, Americans bled, marched and died for the right to vote, but the modern-day voter suppression we saw in the 2018 mid-term elections shows that old battles have become new again,” Sewell said. “Since the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs. Holder decision, many states have enacted more restrictive voting laws that have led us in the wrong direction. The Voting Rights Advancement Act helps protect and advance the legacy of those brave foot soldiers of the civil rights movement by restoring key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and empowering the Justice Department to stop voter suppression tactics before they go into place.”

“Nearly 54 years ago next week, on March 7, a courageous band of civil rights activists – including my friend and hero, Congressman John Lewis – began a march for the right to vote from Selma to Montgomery. They marched non-violently in the face of unspeakable violence. On that Bloody Sunday, they shed their blood for the ballot. But we gather today for much more than a vital history lesson,” Leahy said. “We assemble today for a call to action. Voter suppression efforts are unacceptable and un-American. But because of a disastrous Supreme Court decision, they are almost impossible to stop. The Voting Right Advancement Act we are introducing today would restore and bolster the Voting Rights Act, and undo the damage done by the Shelby County decision.”

“The election of 2016 was a wakeup call. Voters were threatened and given false information. Hundreds of thousands of voters were purged from the rolls all over the country. People who had voted for decades were turned away from the polls. What happened? It was the first election in over 50 years without the protection of the Voting Rights Act,” Rep. John Lewis said. “We must repair what the Supreme Court damaged. We must pass this bill to ensure that every American has equal freedom to participate in our democracy.”

“The right to vote is one of the most sacred and fundamental tenets of our democracy. Despite the progress we have made as a nation since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, there are far too many examples of those in power working to make it harder for folks to vote,” Sen. Doug Jones said. “Efforts to restrict access to the ballot box disproportionately affect people of color, the elderly and people with disabilities. It’s just plain wrong. That’s why I am proud to once again join Congresswoman Sewell and our colleagues in introducing this important legislation and carrying on the legacy of all those who fought tirelessly to extend the right to vote to every American.”

“Voting is the basis of our democracy, and yet a privilege still denied to many. While we’ve seen state leaders in places like Texas challenge voting rights and actively suppress turnout, we can and must do more to break down barriers that keep Americans, and disproportionately minority communities, from the polls,” CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro said. “I’m proud to support H.R.4, which would restore a critical Voting Rights Act protection by requiring states with recent history of voter discrimination seek federal preclearance for election charges, and in doing so, prevent voter suppression, make elections more transparent and ensure all Americans, regardless of their zip code or skin color, have a voice in our democracy. This is not a partisan issue. As Americans, we must ensure the integrity of the robust democracy our Founding Fathers envisioned for our nation.”

The Supreme Courts’ 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlined the qualifications needed to determine which states are required by the Justice Department to pre-clear elections changes in states with a history of voter discrimination.

Since the Shelby decision, nearly two-dozen states have implemented restrictive voter ID laws and previously-covered states have closed or consolidated polling places, shortened early voting and imposed other measures that restrict voting.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) seeks to restore the VRA by developing a process to determine which states must pre-clear election changes with the Department of Justice. It will also require a nationwide, practice-based pre-clearance of known discriminatory practices, including the creation of at-large districts, inadequate multilingual voting materials and cuts to polling places.

The House and Senate will also hold a series of hearings to document the public record of voter suppression and the need for federal pre-clearance enforcement. In addition to Reps. Sewell, Lewis and Castro the bill was introduced by 207 representatives. In addition to Sens. Leahy and Jones, the bill was introduced by 46 senators.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act is endorsed by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Human Rights Campaign (HRC); Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC); National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund; Native American Rights Fund (NARF); National Education Association (NEA); Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF); NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.