Newswire: Hanover County, Va.’s NAACP sues to rename Confederate schools, hearing Jan. 14

By George Copeland Jr., NNPA News Service

Robert N. Burnette Jr. , Va. NAACP official



(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The fate of a federal lawsuit brought by the Hanover County Branch NAACP in a bid to force the Hanover County School Board to rename two schools currently named for Confederate leaders could be decided on Jan. 14.
That’s when U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne will hear arguments on the School Board’s request to dismiss the NAACP’s suit seeking a court order requiring new names for Lee-Davis
High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
Judge Payne, who will hear the case at the courthouse in Downtown
Richmond, Va., has already expressed concerns about the suit that he
wants attorneys for the Hanover NAACP to address.
In a preliminary order, he directed those attorneys to show that this is a genuine dispute over which the branch is entitled to sue. Judge Payne also ordered the NAACP lawyers to identify any cases that support its arguments or to show that their argument is based “on the extension of existing legal principles.”
The lawsuit was launched on Aug. 16 by the Hanover NAACP led by
President Robert N. Barnette Jr., who also is president of the Virginia
State Conference of the NAACP.
The suit aims to “eradicate the vestiges of a shameful, racist educational system in Hanover County that forces African-American students to champion a legacy of segregation and oppression”
by attending schools named for rebels who fought to maintain slavery.
The lawsuit argues that the names contribute to a “hostile and
discriminatory environment for African-American students” enrolled at the
schools.
The suit cites incidents of racial harassment against African-American
students on the part of staff and other students.The main argument,
though, is that the Hanover County School Board is violating the First and
14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution by forcing African- American
students to attend schools with such names.
The lawsuit argues that this amounts to government-compelled speech in an “unequal learning environment” and that African-American students are harmed by being forced to experience such speech in everything from school sporting events to graduation ceremonies.
Lee-Davis, named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, opened in 1958, and Stonewall Jackson opened in 1969 at a time of heightened racial conflict in a county that was one of the last in Virginia to desegregate its public schools.
When the lawsuit was launched, Barnette urged the School Board to come up with a resolution to avoid the cost of a lawsuit. The board, though, has declined and decided just before Thanksgiving
not to change the names.
“The board is not taking any action on this item,” School Board Chairman
Roger Bourassa announced on Nov. 22 following a closed-door discuss
ion. Like most governmental entities, the School Board did not comment
on pending litigation. In statements made before the Nov. 22 decision,
Bourassa said that Lee-Davis High and Stonewall Jackson Middle School eventually would be rebuilt and renamed, in order to comply with current School Board policy that bars any school in the
county from being named after a person, living or dead.
Barnette questioned the board’s choice to “continue to spend thousands
of dollars on a lawsuit” rather than take the initiative to change the school
names and forego expensive litigation, particularly in light of Bourassa’s
statement.
Barnette said, “I guess you could say the ball is in their court.”

Gov. Ivey appoints new Lowndes County, AL sheriff

By WSFA Staff

Christopher West, new Sheriff of Lowndes, Co. Alabama

Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama has appointed Lowndes County Chief Deputy Christopher West as the county’s new sheriff. (Source: Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office)
According to Gina Maiola with the governor’s office, Christopher West will be the new sheriff. West was Lowndes County’s chief deputy and has served in law enforcement for 24 years, according to his biography on the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office website. He’s served in Lowndes County, as well as Fort Deposit as the chief of police.
Prior to his law enforcement career, West served for five years in the United States Marine Corps. He is also a graduate of Herzig University in Birmingham.
According to the governor’s office, he is the current administrative assistant to the Fort Deposit chief of police. He left his position as deputy sheriff in Lowndes County in 2018.
He’s got big shoes to fill but I’m very confident that he can do that and he certainly is excited to serve,” said Ivey. West was appointed after the shooting death of Sheriff John “Big John” Williams at a Hayneville shopping mall in November.

Newswire: Majority Whip Clyburn hails passage of H.R. 3 – Landmark legislation to lower prescription drug costs

Clyburn Effort to Expand Community Health Centers

Rep. James E. Clyburn speaking


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn hailed House passage of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This landmark legislation gives Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies and extends those lower prices to Americans with private insurance too.
“This is an important step toward providing American consumers more accessible and affordable prescription drugs,” Congressman Clyburn said. “In the United States, our drug prices are nearly four times higher than in similar countries, and this legislation will provide real price reductions that will put significant money back in the pocket of consumers.”
Negotiating lower prescription drug prices has the added benefit of cost savings to American taxpayers. A portion of those savings will be reinvested in the National Institutes of Health to research new cures and treatments. Cost savings will also support an expansion of Medicare benefits to cover dental, vision, and hearing needs and sets a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for those on Medicare.
In addition, cost savings will be used to fund provisions of Congressman Clyburn’s H.R. 1943 – Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019. H.R. 3 will provide a $10 billion funding boost to community health centers, which serve 28 million Americans in communities across the United States, including over 350,000 veterans, 8 million children, and 1.4 million homeless patients.
This $10 billion includes $5 billion for capital improvements and construction to expand the footprint of community health centers and an additional $5 billion in funding over the next five years for community health center grants, allowing them to serve more people, including Americans living in rural areas, where half of the Centers are located.
“Providing robust funding to build on the success of community health centers is critically important to providing quality health care in hard-to-reach communities,” Congressman Clyburn continued. “In my district alone, where three rural hospitals have closed, there are eight federally-funded community health centers working to serve almost 190,000 patients.”
H.R. 3 passed the House on a bipartisan vote, 230-192, and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

Newswire: Soleimani Assassination: President Trump is leading America toward war without end in the Middle East News

Analysis by: Rev. Jesse Jackson

People attend a funeral procession for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Ahvaz, Iran January 5, 2020. Hossein Mersadi/Fars news agency/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – It has come to this. An impeached president — still pending trial in the Senate — orders the assassination of a leading Iranian general as he is meeting with the leader of Iraq, a supposed ally. He does so without consultation, much less approval, of Congress. Besieged at home, he lashes out abroad.
This president ran on the promise to end the “endless wars “in the Middle East. Earlier, he ordered and then wisely called off bombing strikes on Iran, saying that he did not want a war. Now he claims that he has acted to stop a war, not start one.
He is either deliberately misleading the American people or deluding himself. Assassination of a foreign official is not the road to peace; violence almost inevitably begets violence. He has acted on what his own officials call “razor-thin” evidence, shocking his own military advisers. U.S. presidents now claim the right — and have the capability — to target and assassinate anyone in any place, foreigner or citizen, if they decide — on the basis of secret and often scanty intelligence — that the person may be considering an attack on U.S. allies or soldiers or representatives in the future. They call this potential threat evidence of an “imminent attack,” to pay mock respect to the international law that they are trampling.
General Qassim Soleimani is portrayed as a terrorist with American blood on his hands. But he was not a stateless terrorist. He was a high official in a foreign government with which we are not at war. Assassinating him is an act of war. Ironically, Iran and the Shiite militias in Iraq that Soleimani guided were leading, if unacknowledged, allies in the fight against ISIS, who are largely Sunnis.
Similarly, those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11 were Sunnis, almost all from Saudi Arabia, funded largely by Saudi money. Taliban in Afghanistan are Sunni. The attack on Yemen was led by Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni. Iran fought against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Yet, somehow, it has become Trump’s leading target.
The road to this escalating conflict can be traced back to Trump’s perverse hatred of all things achieved by former President Barack Obama. One of Trump’s first acts was to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear pact, over the objections of our allies and his own military advisers.
He ramped up sanctions on Iran, seeking to force them to surrender to a “better deal.” The result has been escalating tension and violence, as Iran has demonstrated — in attacks on Saudi oil facilities and on tankers in the Persian Gulf — that it has the capacity to strike back. Now, after the assassination, the entire region girds itself for the retaliation that has already been promised. This is utter folly.
Under George Bush, the U.S. destabilized this region by invading Iraq. That calamity has fostered escalating violence. Obama added to the mess seeking regime change in Syria and in Libya, spreading the chaos. Trump was right when he said it was time for the U.S. to get out of the Middle East.
We have no stake in the spreading conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. We have no desire to send the hundreds of thousands of troops needed to win a war or enforce a peace. All we are doing is squandering American lives and resources in an armed presence that simply adds to the violence without leading to a resolution. Why has Trump abandoned his campaign promise? Why did he abandon his wise decision not to strike Iran earlier? The only thing that has changed is that he has been impeached. Is he ramping up violence abroad to distract from the overwhelming evidence of his offenses? Is he using the U.S. military as a political campaign prop?
The next move is in Iran’s hands. If the regime reacts predictably by striking back, the assassination will lead to escalating violence. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and soon all are left without sight and without teeth. Iran could — if its leaders can rise above their grief and their anger — use this moment to take an initiative for peace, calling on our allies to join in convening a negotiation, opening a path to less violence and greater exchange.
Trump may not wish to respond, but surely our allies in Europe would jump at the chance. Clearly Congress must assert its constitutional war powers and limit the license of this or any president to wage war or assassinate foreign leaders on a whim. It must insist on public hearings to review the basis for the assassination. We need hearings on what we are doing in the Middle East and how we begin to bring the troops home.
Congress needs to pass a renewed war powers resolution instructing the president to bring the troops home, not send more of them to the region. If Congress cannot curb a rogue president, then this republic is in deep trouble. And the American people and its soldiers are

FOGCE Federal Credit Union holds Annual Meeting

The Federation of Greene County Employees (FOGCE) Federal Credit Union held its 44th Annual Meeting on December 19, 2019 in the recently dedicated Willie Carpenter Conference Room in the credit union offices at 112 Prairie Avenue, on the Courthouse Square in Eutaw, Alabama.
Joyce Pham, Credit Union Manager announced that as of December 31, 2018, the FOGCE Federal Credit Union had assets of $1,314, 887, which included $896,874 of member’s shares, a $100,000 non-member deposit and the rest in reserves and undivided earnings. She reported a surplus of $10,076 in income over expenses for the year.
She reported that the credit union had $466,544 in outstanding loans to members, $111,867 in cash, $31,000 invested in its building and the rest invested in other credit unions. She indicated that the credit union had 896 members.
Rodney Pham, speaking for the Credit Committee stated that the credit union had made 449 new loans in 2018 for $338,675 including five car loans for $105,535.
He said the credit union has a variety of loans, from small unsecured loans up to $500, larger loans for home repair, appliances, school expenses and other personal loans, as well as car loans for new and used cars.
Carol Zippert, President of the FOGCE FCU reported on the history of the credit union movement and the specific growth of the local credit union since 1975. “We are saving and borrowing each others money. In one of the smallest, poorest counties in Alabama, we have accumulated over $1.3 million by working collectively together. In 44 years, we have grown the credit union to over a million in assets and moved from rented rooms in the back of other buildings to our own offices at the Courthouse Square in Eutaw.”
Zippert indicated that the FOGCE Federal Credit Union was regulated and supervised by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a division of the U. S. Treasury Department. The NCUA also guarantees deposits in the Credit Union up to $250,000 for each account, similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantee for bank accounts.
“NCUA makes sure your deposits are safe but they also have been very hard on smaller size credit unions like ours. They are always suggesting that we merge with a larger credit union. They are not encouraging credit unions like ours, which teach self-determination and self-development of financial skills, thrift and systematic savings in the Black community,” said Zippert
Zippert also announced that the Credit Union Board had named the conference room in the back of it’s office building, as the Willie Carpenter Conference Room, in honor of the longtime Treasurer of the credit union, who passed away during the past year. “We will be placing a framed picture of Mr. Carpenter in the room with a written statement of his the dedicated work in building the FOGCE FCU over the past four decades,” said Zippert.
Darlene Robinson, Vice-President pointed out that the FOGCE FCU has payroll deduction with the major employers in Greene County, such as the School Board, Catfish plant, Hospital, WestRock box factory and many others. “This means that you can make savings and pay loans through your place of work. The funds will come out of your check and come automatically to the credit union,” she said.
Darlene Robinson was also Mistress of Ceremony for the Annual meeting and conducted elections, distributed door prizes and played some Christmas related games. Two members were re-elected to the Credit Union Board, Carol P. Zippert and Earnest Edmonds and one new member, Jackie Allen, was elected for three-year terms. James Powell and Debbie Rice were re-elected to the Credit Committee, which evaluates and approves loans.
Robinson pointed out that the “FOGCE Federal Credit Union is open to all who live, work or worship in Greene County.
Membership is $10 plus a minimum first deposit of $25. You can save regularly and systematically and your savings will grow. Then when you need a loan – you have a friendly place to borrow. The Credit Union office, on the Courthouse Square, at 112 Prairie Avenue, phone number 205/372-9025, is open weekdays, to receive new members.”

Annual Kwanzaa celebrations continue in local schools and community

Kwanzaa Celebration at Greene County High School, Wednesday, December 18, 2019.
Kwanzaa Celebration at Robert Brown Middle School, Tuesday, December, 17, 2019.
Kwanzaa Celebration at Eutaw Primary School, Wednesday, December, 18, 2019.

The annual Kwanzaa cultural celebrations in Greene County were held at each of the local schools as well as in a public event for the community. The week before the December holiday season, students at Eutaw Primary, Robert Brown Middle and Greene County High were engaged in the annual Kwanzaa Cultural presentations co-sponsored by the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Harambe Community Youth Organization. The community Kwanzaa was held Monday, December 30, 2019 at the Eutaw Activity Center.
Although many of the young students were not familiar with the concept, history and principals of Kwanzaa, they were eager to participate, even learning some of the Swahili terms and names used in the presentation.
Kwanzaa is a harvest celebration honoring the culture and heritage of African Americans, which brings the community together to lift the blessings of the ending year and to pledge and dedicate themselves toward working together to build a better community for everyone.
The community Kwanzaa participants included members from the sponsoring organizations, students from the local schools and the 2020 Debutant Class. Mrs. Isaac Atkins, President of the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. brought greetings and also introduced chapter members present.
The community Kwanzaa celebration was honored with musical selections provided by the Greene County Community Choir. Rev. Joe N. Webb led the devotions and blessing of the Harvest Feast.
The community shared the Talking Stick for expressions of the Kwanzaa Principles.
The dishes for the feast were provided by the community attendees.
The seven day Kwanzaa observance begins December 26 through January 1. Kwanzaa was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga at the time of the Watts Riots in California in the 1960’s. Dr. Karenga was seeking a positive approach for rebuilding communities and celebrating African American history and culture. He took the name for the holiday from the Swahili word Kwanzaa meaning first fruits of the harvest.
The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa also lift the values to strive for in our lives and communities: Umoja – Unity; Kujichagulia – Self Determination; Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility; Ujamaa – Cooperatives; Nia – Purpose; Kuumba – Creativity; and Imani – Faith.

Mary Edwards Otieno seeks District 5 School Board seat

My name is Mary Edwards Otieno and I am a candidate for the Greene County Board of Education in District 5. I am running for this position because as a board member I believe that I will be able to work directly with other board members, the administration and the public at large to improve the Greene County School System.
I am a retired teacher who worked in the Greene County School System for 25 years and because I care for our children and community, I cannot continue to sit by and wait for someone else to make a difference. It is time for me and others who are new to politics to get up and step out of our comfort zones for our children and our community.
At this time I want to share with the community more information about my background, training, experiences and goals.
I am the oldest of eight children of Raymond Edwards, Sr. and Nancy Craig Edwards. I was born in the Pleasant Ridge community of Greene County, Alabama and my parents moved to West Greene when I was three years old.
My basic educational training was in the Greene County School System, beginning with Mt. Hebron Elementary through Paramount High School, graduating in 1975. That was a special accomplishment since I was the first to graduate from high school on either side of my family
In the summer of 1975, I entered Alabama A & M University majoring in History and Political Science, with a focus in Education. I graduated from Alabama A & M University in 1979 and did further studies there and at Livingston University, (now the University of West Alabama).
Upon returning to Greene County, I worked as a long-term substitute teacher at Paramount High School and at Carver Middle School and volunteered at the former Eatman Elementary School. I was also an Adult Basic Education (ABE) Teacher, Librarian’s Aide at Paramount High School and a Social Studies Teacher in the Greene County School System for 25 years.
My earlier work experience also includes being a line inspector at Vanco Sewing Plant, working at the Greene County Nursing Home and the Weyerhaeuser Corporation’s former plant nursery facility in Pleasant Ridge.
Currently, I serve as a volunteer with the Greene County Coalition’s Strengthening the Families Program and a member of the Clinton Volunteer Fire department.
When not volunteering, I am an avid gardener. I love to grow flowers, vegetables and spoil my four-year -old granddaughter, grandnieces and nephews.
With the support of citizens in District Five (5) and the public at large, we can improve the Greene County School System. My goal is to support and keep good polices, good programs, and dedicated individuals who I think will be beneficial for our children, and the county. If elected I will obey all local school board rules, bylaws and guidelines to the best of my ability.
How will I achieve the goals? I will work to understand polices before voting on them. I will do my own research on polices and issues that will come before the board. I will always listen to facts/opinions from other boards members, citizens from District Five (5), teachers, students and the community. I will try to always use common sense and play by the “Golden Rule.”
I am married to James L, Otieno, Sr. and we have one son (James, Jr) who is married to the former Monice Thomas (They have given us the smartest and most beautiful, granddaughter (Lilah) in the World.
We have lived in Clinton, Alabama for the past thirty (36) years.

Newswire: African countries sign free-trade agreement

Meeting of African nations

by BlackmansStreet.Today on December 28, 2019

Fifty-five African countries have signed a free-trade agreement that will unite 1.3 billion people and create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc that will develop countries across the continent.
The agreement, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), is the largest trade bloc since the World Trade Organization was founded in 1994. Africa’s current population is 1.2 billion, but it is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050
The operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area was launched July 7, in Niamey, Niger.
The operational instruments include rules of origin, an online negotiating forum, the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers, a digital payments system and African Trade Observatory.
The AfCFTA was adopted March 21, 2018.
The African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, announced that the free trade zone is expected to become operational in July 2020, DW News, which is based in Berlin, reported.
“The eyes of the world are turned to Africa,” Egyptian President and AU chairman Abdel -Fattah el-Sissi said.
The trade bloc is expected to boost the Africa’s economy by strengthening regional trade and supply chains, DW News reported. Currently intra-African trade only makes up about 16 percent of Africa’s total trade, much lower than Europe (69 percent) or Asia (59 percent), ChinaDaily.com reports.
But there are challenges that include poor roads, indequate railway lines, violence in specific areas, strict border controls and corruption, DW report

Newswire: It’s time for Africa ‘to do things for itself’, proclaims Kenyan Peace Prize winner

Ngugi wa Thiong’o


Dec. 30, 2019 (GIN) – Over the last 100 years, Africa has been the eternal donor to the West but has been represented as always reliant on aid from the Western community.
“We must find a way of reversing this by becoming makers of our own raw materials,” asserts Kenyan author and academic Ngugi wa Thiong’o who picked up a distinguished German Peace Prize named for Erich Maria Remarque this year.
“It’s time for Africa to do things for ourselves,” declared wa Thiong’o, author of ‘Weep Not, Child’, ‘A Grain of Wheat,” and ‘Petals of Blood,’ – “not in pursuit of isolation but as a matter of upholding values of Pan Africanism and having ownership and responsibility of the continent.”
The most apparent problem with many African people, he observed, is seeing Africa through the eyes of an outsider – an imperial intent designed through languages and policies – to foster post-colonial measurements that would be indestructible for many generations.
As a result, you look at the state as a looting mechanism, not as a responsibility. “Have you ever heard of anybody robbing their own house?” he asked rhetorically. “This mentality removes us from the responsibility of decolonizing the continent and securing our base.”
“Africa has to control its resources,” he insisted. “We have to make things with our resources and exchange them with other countries just as other countries exchange final products with us – using our gold, copper and diamonds amongst other resources.
“Because when you secure the base you can interact with the world, through the basis of equality and respect.”
A distinguished professor of comparative literature and English, wa Thiong’o was awarded the prize for his book: “Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature”, about language and its constructive role in national culture, history and identity.
The Prize is awarded for fictional, journalistic or scientific works which set out to engage with inner and outer peace as well as for demonstrating an exemplary commitment to peace, humanity and freedom.
A statement of the jury read: “Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is an important representative of independence through language and advocates the right of peoples to cultural self-determination as an identity and peace-building characteristic.”

Newswire: 80-year old woman makes history, graduates from Alabama A & M with a 3.69 GPA

Ms. Donzella Washington


Normal, AL — Donzella Washington, an 80-year old woman from Alabama, is celebrating being the oldest person to ever graduate from Alabama A&M University. Even more, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.69 GPA with a degree in social work. She dedicated her achievement to her late husband who she says had always been supportive of her.
According to Rocket City Now, Washington is the oldest person to ever graduate from Alabama A&M University. She now plans to travel to nursing homes across the country as a motivational speaker, and hopes to inspire other people — young and old — to believe in themselves and their dreams.
Growing up, Washington says she had low self-esteem due to a speech difficulty that made her stutter badly. She was 30-years old when she overcame it after taking four speech classes at the College of the Sequoias.
She eventually learned how to manage her thoughts along with patience and confidence with herself. She took the risk and entered college even at an older age.
Washington is thankful for her late husband who she says was the one who always pushed her to achieve her dreams. After graduating with flying colors, she also plans to continue studying to take up her master’s degree.