Congresswoman Terri Sewell visits Greene County

 

 

Congresswoman Terri Sewell visited the Eutaw City Hall last Monday for a “Congress in Your Community” session serving people who live in Greene County. Sewell who represents the Seventh Congressional District of Alabama that stretches from Birmingham through Tuscaloosa into the western Alabama Black Belt counties came to give a report to her constituents on the status of legislation and projects from the nation’s Capitol. “Things in Washington, D. C. are pretty dysfunctional. We are supposed to be seeking solutions but mostly we see politicians, like President Trump sowing discord,” said Sewell. “ I am watching the 2018 Farm Bill to be sure that this major agricultural legislation serves family farmers, especially African-American farmers, does not slash child nutrition and SNAP (food stamps) too far and helps our catfish farmers, who are endangered by imports of mislabeled fish grown under less than satisfactory environmental conditions,” said Sewell.

Sewell indicated that much of the government, including farm programs, was operating under a Continuing Resolution for budgetary purposes until December 7, 2018. “ We still have to reach some decisions and compromises to fund the government. I hope we will be able to do this work during the lame duck session after the November election,” said Sewell. Sewell said she hopes Congress will take action on raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to a more livable wage in stages up to $15 an hour, depending on local economic conditions. She also said the issue of pay equity for women needs to be addressed. She also said changes and improvements were needed in the Affordable Care Act to make it more effective for people. “We don’t need to tear it apart, like the President and Republicans are doing but we need to fix it,” she said. Sewell said that she was focused on changes in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates that would help rural hospitals in their efforts to survive and continue providing health services in disadvantaged communities. Sewell said she was also concerned about tariffs that President Trump had placed on steel, aluminum and automobile parts. “In Alabama, we are the nation’s third largest producer of automobiles and auto parts and these tariffs may hurt our automobile industry in the long run.” Sewell introduced William Scott of Selma who is working with the upcoming 2020 U. S. Census. Scott said that jobs will be available for people who want to work on the Census. He urged people who were interested to go to the website: www.2020census.gov/jobs or call 1-855-562-2020. Sewell concluded the program by urging everyone in attendance to be sure to vote in the up-coming Midterm elections in November. “Please go and vote and give the Democratic Party a chance to be a check and balance on this President and his party who have controlled the national government for the past two years.”

Groundbreaking held for Love’s Travel Center at Interstate 20/59 Exit 40 Eutaw

Officials participating in groundbreaking (L. to R.): Kenneth Boswell (ADECA), Rep. Ralph Howard. Senator Bobby Singleton, Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, Governor Kay Ivey, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Jenny Love Meyer, Rep. A. J. McCampbell, Bill Gleason (Love’s), Eutaw Council members Joe Lee Powell, Sheila H. Smith, Bennie Abrams, LaJeffrey Carpenter, and Danny Cooper (GCIDA)

On Monday, October 15, 2018, a groundbreaking was held for a Love’s Travel Center and Country Store, near the location of the new business on the Southside of the Interstate 20/59 Exit 40 on Highway 14 coming into the City of Eutaw.The mid-morning groundbreaking was attended by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Legislative delegation members, Senator Bobby Singleton, Rep. A. J. McCampbell and Rep. Ralph Howard, members of the Eutaw City Council, Greene County Commission and other state and local agencies involved as well as Jenny Love Meyer and William “Bill “ Gleason representing the Love’s corporation. The new $12.5 million travel stop will be built on a 13.9-acre site and is expected to bring an estimated 43 jobs to the area with a projected 1,000 trucks per day. The new Love’s will be one of the largest Love’s sites in Alabama and will include a Hardee’s, Godfather’s Pizza, and Chester’s Chicken. The Eutaw location will also consist of 96 parking spaces for professional drivers, with the possibility of future expansion for more parking spaces. Councilman Joe Lee Powell welcomed the over 250 people assembled for the groundbreaking ceremony by stating, “You are welcome in Eutaw the Gateway to the Alabama Black Belt.” Rev. John Hodges, Pastor of the Saint Mathew Baptist Church in Boligee gave the invocation. Congresswoman Terri Sewell thanked all the groups and agencies present for their contributions to make the project a success. “We thank Love’s for bringing jobs to the Alabama Black Belt where they are greatly needed. We can assure you that people are our greatest asset – their strength, their intellect and their heart, which will become part of this project.” State Senator Bobby Singleton said, “this is a great day for Eutaw and Greene County. This project is a gamechanger that will bring new jobs and open opportunities for other development and jobs.” State Representatives A. J. McCampbell and Ralph Howard, who represent Greene County, echoed these same sentiments. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said, “This is an exciting day for this county, when Greene County wins, Alabama wins.” She reviewed her success in bring 16,000 jobs to Alabama since she became Governor. “We are working to make groundbreakings like this an everyday occurrence in Alabama. We know that Love’s has 14 locations in Alabama, especially in rural locations like this one. We wish them success in providing drivers a quality and safe place to rest and refuel,” she said. Jenny Love Meyer speaking for the Love’s Company said, “This will be one of 470 locations around the nation that will bear our family name. We started in Oklahoma to build clean and friendly places for truckers and other travelers. We know this new location will live up to our company’s mission and vision.” William ‘Bill’ Gleason, Real Estate Property Manager for Love’s, who was instrumental in finding the location, said, “ Our travel centers have no wheels under them. Once we build, we are with you to stay!” Mayor Raymond Steele thanked everyone involved in the project, including ADECA, Delta Regional Authority, USDA Rural Development Greene County Industrial Development Authority and the West Alabama Regional Planning Agency who provided funds and direction to extended sewage and other utilities to the Exit 40 site. The Mayor also thanked the Eutaw City Council, the Greene County Commission, Jamie Banks family, who sold the land for the project and many others for making the project possible. “We hope that this is just the beginning for new jobs and growth in our community. With this project, we have a chance to move forward together and open other new opportunities for the people of our area,” said Mayor Steele, before a large group of the invited dignitaries put their golden shovels in the ground to turn over the dirt symbolizing the start of the project.

Bridge Crossing Jubilee to be this weekend in Selma, Alabama

The 53rd commemoration of the “Bloody Sunday Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights” will take place in Selma from Thursday, March 1 to Sunday, March 4, 2018. This will also be the 25th anniversary of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, featuring over 40 events to celebrate voting rights and plan for future actions to maintain and expand voting rights.
The theme of this year’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee is Many More Bridges to Cross. Most of the events being held over the four-day period are free to the public.
The initial event is the Old Fashioned Mass Meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Broad Street from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Thursday, March 1, 2018. Bishop Staccato Powell of AME Zion Church is the main speaker. Tabernacle is the site of the first mass meetings of the Selma Voting Rights Struggle more than half a century ago. The Miss Jubilee Pageant for youth is also that same evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the School of Discovery.
On Friday, March 2, 2018, there is an Educational Summit to deal with major issues facing the education of young people, a Mock Trial on an important issue and a special rally for the “Poor People’s Campaign – A National Moral Revival” featuring Rev. William Barber. The Jubilee Golf Tournament begins early Friday morning and the day ends with a “Stomp Out the Vote” Step Show.

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, there will be a parade, the Foot Soldiers Breakfast, to honor pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement, an Intergenerational Summit, with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Jubilee Street Festival, to be held on Water Street close to the bridge, and the Freedom Flame Awards Banquet.
On Saturday there will also be two major workshops on “Human Rights Violation is a Devastation to Our Nation” and “What Democracy Looks Like and Making Democracy Work for US”. Many speakers including Cornel West, Ruby Sales, Raymond Winbush, Anthony Browder and others will participate. These workshops will be held at the Dallas County Courthouse.
Sunday, March 4, 2018, will begin at 7:30AM with the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast at Wallace Community College. Kamala Harris, U. S. Senator from California will be the keynote speaker for the breakfast. She will be joined by new Alabama U. S. Senator Doug Jones, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Rev. Jesse Jackson and many others. After breakfast, marchers are encouraged to join church services around Selma.
At 1:30 PM Sunday, there will be a pre-march rally at the Browns Chapel Church, followed by a re-enactment of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March starting at 2:30 PM. Thousands are expected to attend and follow the original march route across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. A post-march rally and other activities will be held later that afternoon.
Faya Rose Toure, organizer of the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee said, “We invite everyone who supports and celebrates the right to vote to come to this largest annual continuing Civil Rights Celebration, but we also must rededicate ourselves to working on the next necessary steps to carry the movement for voting rights, civil rights and human rights forward!”
Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said: “Tens of thousands come to Selma every year to be a part of these events. There is something for everyone of all ages and all backgrounds. See you in Selma!”
For more information and a detailed schedule of all events, check the website: www.BridgeCrossingJubilee.com.

‘Ride to Restore Section 5’ grassroots lobbyists push Voting Rights Advancement Act in Washington, D. C.

Special to the Democrat by: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

Hodge.jpgwash group.jpgCongresswoman Terri Sewell address youth as part of the training to support ride to revive Section 5.

A group of sixty community activists from Alabama went to Washington, D. C. in six vans from Sunday to Tuesday (June 24-27, 2017) to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), HR 2948, introduced last week by our Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell.
The bill was introduced on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs, Holder decision, which gutted Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and advance Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to include 14 states and other political subdivisions. These areas would again be placed under the protection of Section 5 and be required to have any election changes pre-cleared by the Department of Justice before they could be implanted.
The VRAA updates the criteria and establishes a nationwide coverage formula for states and political subdivisions that would be subject again to the pre-clearance provisions of Section 5. Any state that has had 15 or more voting violations in the last 25-year period; or 10 or more voting violations, at least one of the violations committed by the state itself, would be covered. A political subdivision within a state can be covered if it commits 3 or more voting violations.
The bill also carefully defines what constitutes a voting rights violation and which election changes must be submitted for pre-clearance.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell said, “The VRAA is an advancement bill, it advances voting rights throughout the country. Under this bill, all eleven states that were part of the Confederacy, including Alabama, as well as other political subdivisions around the nation and on tribal lands would be covered and subject to the pre-clearance provisions.”
The VRAA would classify voting changes such as strict voter photo identification requirements, and voter registration requirements to be reviewed and possibly overturned if they were deemed to be more stringent than the requirements in Section 303b of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.The VRAA, HR 2948, has 182 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. They are all Democrats. And the companion legislation S.1490 in the Senate has 46 co-sponsors, also all Democrats, so far.
The grassroots voting activists visited more than 75 Congressional offices, including the membership of the House Judiciary Committee, Alabama’s delegation of six Republican members besides Sewell and our two Senators – Richard Shelby and Luther Strange. The grassroots activists left a package of information including factsheets on the legislation, a Senate Sketches by State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, which deals with the “power of one vote”, and materials about the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, the first weekend in March each year.
On Tuesday morning, the Alabama group joined by other activists in Washington from the Rural Coalition, Food and Water Watch, National Family Farm Coalition and other groups had a rally and press conference on the Capitol grounds facing the Cannon House Office Building on Independence Avenue and First Street NE.
The rally had many chants supporting the revival of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act along with civil rights freedom songs. Several Congresspersons, including Terri Sewell, G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Marc Veasey of Dallas, Texas and Katherine M. Clark of Massachusetts addressed the rally. Congressman John Lewis drove by the rally on Independence Avenue and saluted the crowd.
On Monday night, the group had a meeting at Howard University Law School, which was addressed by several civil rights veterans, including former D. C. Congressman Walter E.
Fauntroy, Viola Bradford, who wrote for the Southern Courier newspaper in Montgomery, Antonio Harrison, a former Alabama State Senator, who lives and works in D. C. Professor Ardua of the Law School spoke on the need for reparations to address the continuing impact of slavery on Black people.
The Ride to Revive Section 5 was sponsored by the SOS Coalition for Justice and Democracy, Alabama New South Coalition and other local groups in Alabama. For more information or to make donations to help the cause – contact Shelley Fearson at 334-262-0932 or email: Alabamanewsouth Coordinator@ aol.com

Rep. Terri Sewell statement on bomb threats to Jewish Community Center in Birmingham

terri-sewell

 Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) released the following statement on recent anti-Semitic attacks and bomb threats to Jewish facilities national, as well as in Birmingham, AL:

“I am deeply disturbed by the threats against Jewish community centers in Birmingham and nationwide,” said Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL). “These hate crimes will not be tolerated. Many of my constituents still remember the 1963 bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed four young black girls. We cannot and will not let that kind of hate rock our community ever again. The families in my district reject anti-Semitism or discrimination against any religion or race, and we will call out and confront discrimination wherever it is present.”

On Feb. 23, Congresswoman Terri Sewell joined 157 members of Congress in a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), urging the agencies to swiftly assess the recent threats against Jewish community centers and to advise Congress on any steps which it can take to help counter those threats.

On Monday, the Birmingham police investigated a bomb threat at the Levite Jewish Community Center, the third bomb threat to the Community Center over the past month. According to the FBI’s Birmingham division, the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division will investigate as part of a nationwide probe into threats against Jewish community centers.

In the first two months of 2017 alone, there have been more than 60 incidents targeting Jewish community centers nationwide. The bomb threat reported on Monday was the third to be reported against Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center this year.  The first bomb threat happened Jan. 18 and then again on Feb. 20.

 

Democrats end House sit-in protest over gun control

 

By Deirdre WalshManu RajuEric Bradner and Steven Sloan, CNN

John Lewis with Terri Sewell

Congressman John Lewis and colleagues including Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-7) as part of sit-in on House floor;

 John Lewis crossing bridge 1965

 John Lewis crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma 1965   Washington (CNN)

Democrats decided to end their day-long sit-in protest on the House floor over gun control Thursday, June 23, 2016.

Rep. John Lewis, who launched the sit-in Wednesday morning that eventually drew 170 lawmakers, lit up social media, and infuriated House Republicans — but spurred no legislative action — said the fight was not over.

“We must come back here on July 5th [when Congress returns to session] more determined than ever before,” Lewis said.

“We are going to win,” he told supporters on the Capitol steps after the sit-in was halted. “The fight is not over. This is just one step of when we come back here on July the 5th we’re going to continue to push, to pull, to stand up, and if necessary, to sit down. So don’t give up, don’t give in. Keep the faith, and keep your eyes on the prize.”  He also tweeted, “We got in trouble. We got in the way. Good trouble. Necessary Trouble. By sitting-in, we were really standing up.”

Lawmakers said that during the July 4th break, they would take the issue to their districts.”We are going back to our congressional districts — we are going to engage our constituents on this subject, and we will not allow this body feel as comfortable as in the past,” Rep. Jim Clyburn said. “On July 5, we will return, and at that time we will be operating on a new sense of a purpose.”

Republicans had earlier tried to shut down the sit-in, but the Democrats’ protest over the lack of action on gun control lasted for more than 24 hours. House Democrats were looking for votes to expand background checks and ban gun sales to those on the no-fly watch list.

In the middle of the night, the House GOP had sought to end the extraordinary day of drama by swiftly adjourning for a recess that will last through July 5.

The Republican move was an effort to terminate a protest that began Wednesday morning in reaction to the massacre in Orlando when Democrats took over the House floor and tried to force votes on gun control. But throughout the morning Thursday, 10-20 Democrats, including House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi for much of the time, remained on the floor.

At one point, a police officer told the Democrats that they would be conducting a daily security sweep. “I’d ask that you clear the floor while that happens,” the officer said.

Pelosi responded: “That’s not going to happen” and the security check then took place involving five agents and a dog as the House Democratic leader continued speaking, undeterred. Pelosi said the sit-in would continue “until hell freezes over.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday accused the Democrats of throwing the House into “chaos” and threatening democracy. He said Republicans were looking at all options to stop the sit-in, if the Democrats continued it.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, also criticized the protest and said it was a setback to her efforts to build bipartisan support for her legislation that would ban gun sales to people on a list of possible terrorists.

“It is not helpful to have had the sit-in on the House side because that made it partisan, and I’ve worked very hard to keep this bipartisan, so that setback our efforts somewhat,” she said of her bill, which won support from a majority of senators Thursday but fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

Although Republicans leaders had shut off House cameras, Democrats continued Thursday morning to livestream their activities on the floor. Rep. Mark Takano plugged his phone into an external power source, set it on top of a chair facing the podium, and was streaming on his Facebook page even though he’d left the chamber to appear on CNN’s “New Day.”

The sit-in became a social media happening. Tweets sent by Reps. Scott Peters and Eric Swalwell with Periscopes were viewed over 1 million times and the hashtags #NoBillNoBreak and #HoldTheFloor were tweeted over 1.4 million times, according to Twitter.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m. Florida Rep. Ted Deutch gave an impassioned speech on the floor.”I am tired, I am cold, and I am hungry. Let me remind everyone watching how privileged I am to be tired, cold, and hungry,” he said. “These are feelings that I am privileged to have because so many will never feel that again,” referring to victims of gun violence.

Overall, more than 170 Democrats took part in the sit in over the 24 hours, lawmakers said.

 

 

Congresswoman Terri Sewell introduces H.R. 4817 to designate Birmingham’s Historic Civil Rights District a National Park

Shown above: Memorial to Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church which would be part of proposed Historic Civil Rights District

 

The City of Birmingham played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and this national designation will forever cement its place in American history.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL-7) released the following statement to announce the filing of H.R. 4817, a bill to designate Birmingham’s Historic Civil Rights District as a National Park.
“I am proud to introduce this important, bi-partisan legislation that incorporates Birmingham’s Historic Civil Rights sites into the National Park Service System,” states Representative Sewell. “With this designation, historic preservation efforts will be enhanced for these historic sites, greater economic revitalization will occur, and it will forever cement the pivotal role Birmingham played in the Civil Rights Movement.””The Historic Civil Rights District in Birmingham holds many stories of the journey from what was regarded as one of the most segregated cities in the South to what Birmingham is today. The National Park designation will be a real tourism boost for Birmingham and will mean greater economic development for Alabama. The Birmingham Civil Rights District will include a 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, A.G. Gaston Motel and other historic landmarks.”Several noteworthy stakeholders expressed their support for the Bill:
“Sharing the Birmingham Civil Rights Story and legacy is paramount to the success of the City. We are thankful to Congresswoman Sewell for moving this legislation forward. This is an exciting time for our City,” says Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama.
“As a gathering place for activists and leaders in the Civil Rights movement, the sites within the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park tell of the African-American fight for equality. The National Trust applauds Congresswoman Terri Sewell for her leadership in introducing this significant legislation, and proudly stands with Mayor William A. Bell and the City of Birmingham in supporting this effort to preserve not only the places but the history that happened in the thriving historic district.
We urge the House of Representatives to quickly approve this legislation to ensure these places live on to benefit future generations of Americans and beyond,” states Tom Cassidy, Vice President of Government Relations & Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Birmingham was one of the most heavily segregated cities in the United States in the 1960s. The non-violent protest marches in Birmingham in the spring of 1963 and the violent response they evoked from police and state and local officials drew national attention and helped to break the back of segregation in that city,” states Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. “We commend Representative Sewell for working to ensure these pivotal moments in the long struggle to bring equality and justice to all Americans will never be forgotten. The addition of a Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park would allow this important Civil Rights story to be told for generations to come.”

About the Proposed National Park Designation

The proposed Birmingham national park site would include 16th Street Baptist Church, A.G. Gaston Motel, Kelly Ingram Park, Bethel Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The “National Historic Park” designation by the National Park Service (NPS) is defined as particularly notable because of its connection with events or people of historic interest. Such entities often extend beyond a single property or building. Many entities are not traditional “parks” in the sense of extensive green spaces, but are rather urban areas with a number of historically relevant buildings.