Sunday March 7th was the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. The Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast held in the Wallace Community College parking lot and a Slow-ride of over 200 cars across the bridge were the only in-person activities of the four-day Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The Unity Breakfast, which was held in a socially distanced way with people in their cars viewing the speakers on two large television screens, featured a host of speakers including President Joe Biden, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Mayor James Perkins, Martin Luther King III, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Charles Steele, SCLC President, Jonathan Jackson representing his father Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and many others. Several persons received awards including Congressman James Clyburn, Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and LaTosha Brown and Attorney Cliff Albright, co-founders of Black Voters Matter also made presentations. In his video comments, President Biden announced his plans to sign an Executive Order later in the day, making it easier to register and vote and mobilizing all Federal agencies to support voter registration and participation. Biden who had attended the Unity Breakfast in 2014, when he was Vice-President, said, “We must be vigilant or people will take our basic rights away. The Republicans have been chipping away at voting rights for many years. Now 256 measures have been introduced in 43 state legislatures to cut back and suppress the right to vote and make it difficult for people to vote.” Biden and other speakers promoted support for and passage of HR-1 “For the People Act” which will strengthen voting rights, make voter registration automatic and contains ethics provisions to reduce the influence of money in campaigns; and HR-4 “the John Lewis Voting Rights Act” which would restore Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, stripped out by the U. S. Supreme Court in Shelby vs. Holder, and again allow for Justice Department pre-clearance of state and local voting regulations. Congresswoman Terri Sewell said she was proud to stand on the shoulders of the many foot-soldiers that made the Civil Rights Movement and Voting Rights Movement a success. She said that she had just voted to approve the American Rescue Plan which will provide financial and healthcare benefits to the American people and mitigate the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. “ I regret that this is our first celebration of Bloody Sunday without my friend and mentor, Congressman John Lewis, who passed in 2020. We must redouble our efforts to pass HR1 and HR 4 to honor his memory,” said Sewell. Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said it was important to support HR-1, HR-4 and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for criminal justice reforms. She suggested calling your Senators at 202-224-3121 (the U. S. Capitol switchboard) and urge them to vote for these important reforms. Cliff Albright in his remarks said, “The movement is not over. As we did in 1965, we must continue to do today.” He urged the crowd to “Push their U. S. Senators to end the filibuster, an undemocratic relic of slavery. We will not be able to pass HR-1, HR-4 and other critical legislation, as long as the 60 vote requirements of the filibuster remain in place.” LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said. “ I am a child of Selma. This community trained me and taught me to believe in the power of people and when people rise up they can make meaningful change.” Rev. Bernard Lafayette spoke to honor the contributions of civil rights leaders who had died in the past year: Dr. Joseph Lowery, C.T. Vivian, Congressman John Lewis, Attorney Bruce Boynton and Vernon Jordan. At the conclusion of the Unity Breakfast, about 200 cars, with their flashers on participated in a slow-ride across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the spot where marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday in 1965. A group of family members led by Rev. Lafayette said prayers and then placed wreaths at the Voting Rights Memorial Park on the eastern side of the bridge.
On Saturday, July 13, 2019, Congresswoman Terri Sewell held a “Congress in Your Community” meeting at the Forkland Town Hall, attended by more than 50 community residents.
As part of her report, Congresswoman Sewell announced that she was appointed by Speaker Pelosi, to a special nine member commission, to review the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA 2.0) before its ratification by Congress. Sewell said, “ I will soon be traveling to Mexico City for discussions on this new trade agreement.
I want to be sure American workers are protected with labor and environmental standards.” She said she was particularly concerned about Trump’s proposed tariffs on automobile parts, which would drive up automobile prices and could reduce the American workforce in states like Alabama.
On healthcare, Sewell said she was supporting improvements to the existing Affordable Care Act by reducing deductibles and premiums, including for pharmaceutical drug prices. She says she strongly supports Medicaid Expansion, which Alabama’s Republican Governor and Legislature have refused to adopt. “Due to partisan politics state officials have left $7 billion over ten years on the table to be used by other states,” says Sewell.
Sewell said she was concerned that Republican controlled states were suing in Federal courts to declare the ACA unconstitutional. “This will mean that 1.9 million Alabamians would loose their protection for pre-existing conditions and almost 200,000 would loose their healthcare insurance coverage all together,” said Sewell.
She and Senator Doug Jones have introduced legislation to incentivize states to pursue Medicaid Expansion, but this legislation is tied up in committee because none of the 14 states remaining, who have not agreed to Medicaid Expansion, have indicated interest in changing their positions, “If Alabama wants to adopt Medicaid Expansion, we may be able to get this legislation passed,” said Sewell.
Congresswoman Sewell said she was prepared to vote for an increase in the Federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, adopted ten years ago in 2009, to $15 an hour in stages over the next five years. “ Workers have lost 18% in purchasing power over the past decade. This bill will give 45% of Alabamians a pay raise! While I proposed a regional minimum wage, which would be more equitable and help small businesses to be competitive, I will be voting for this bill,” says the Congresswoman.
Sewell said her bill (HR4) the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores the preclearance provisions stripped from the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs. Holder decision, will soon be voted on and passed by the House of Representatives. The bill would create an updated formula to qualify states for preclearance for voting rights changes.”14 states would be qualified under the new formula for modern day voting rights violations since 1990, “ says Sewell.
“Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate and his colleagues will not allow a vote on any of the progressive legislation, we have passed in the House of Representatives. The voters in 2020 will have to act to change this deadlock,” said Sewell.
The Congresswoman took questions from the audience, posed for photos with many constituents and spoke with officials of the Town of Forkland before leaving 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: http://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.”
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.
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: http://www.BridgeCrossingJubilee.com.
Tamika Mallory receives “Drum Major for Justice Award” from Perry County Civic League. L to R: Mayor Dexter Hinton of Marion, Luther Winn, Greenetrack CEO, State Senator Bobby Singleton, and Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa
The Perry County Civic League honored over 50 Perry County natives that have secured nursing degrees
Last Sunday, February 18, 2018 the Jimmie Lee Jackson Memorial Program was held at Marion Baptist Academy in Perry County to memorialize the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson who was martyred 53 years ago in February 1965. Jackson’s death intensified the voting rights movement in the Black Belt of Alabama and led to the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday March” from Selma-to-Montgomery, where marchers were beaten by Alabama State Troopers and deputized local citizens.
The march from Selma-to-Montgomery was ultimately successful and led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which gave Black people back the right to vote which was lost in the Reconstruction period following the Civil War and passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U. S. Constitution.
The Jimmie Lee Jackson Day starts a three-week celebration and commemoration called the Bridge Crossing Jubilee with events in and around Selma related to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The Jubilee is the largest continuous celebration of civil rights in the United States.
The Perry County Civic League sponsors the Jimmie Lee Jackson Program each year. This year’s program included honoring over 50 Perry County natives that have secured nursing degrees of various kinds since the beginning of the movement in 1965. Albert Turner Jr. and Ms. Willie Neal Avery with the Perry County Civic League presided over the program.
State Senator Bobby Singleton, Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins, the Mayor of Marion, John Heard III, Superintendent of Perry County Schools, and Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa, who is running for Governor of Alabama, gave short greetings.
Corey D. Hawkins, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons gave a special greeting on behalf of a large group of masons who attended the meeting. Hawkins pointed out that Jimmie Lee Jackson was a member of the Masons whose life was cut short of its full potential in 1965, while protecting his mother and grandfather from a police beating connected to a civil rights meeting in Marion.
Tamika Mallory, Executive director of the National Action Network and one of four National Co-Chairs of the Womens March on Washington, held in January 2017, to protest the Inauguration of Donald Trump as President. Mallory said that her family roots were in Monroeville, Alabama and her mother sent her to spend summers with her grandmother and aunts in Monroe County, which taught her about life in America for her poorest people. She also was exposed to the civil rights movement spending summers in Alabama in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Mallory said,” I learned at the intersectionality, where the women’s movement and the civil rights movement meet that new leaders are needed to carry the work forward. Those leaders cannot feel too comfortable with their positions. You must lead because you want to help people build a better world where everyone will have a chance to feel comfortable.” The Perry County Civil League awarded Mallory with its “Drum-Major for Justice Award”.
Jubilee Festival returns to Water Street
The Selma City Council at its February 13 meeting voted to allow the 2018 Bridge Crossing Jubilee Festival to be held downtown on Water Avenue as it has been for previous decades except for last year.
State Senator Hank Sanders said: “This is a win for Selma, a win for Alabama, a win for the country. The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is a national and international event. I am so glad that matters could be worked out with the City of Selma so that the Bridge Crossing Jubilee can continue to serve the tens of thousands who come each year.
“I am very appreciative to Councilman Michael Johnson and the Selma City Council for taking this positive action. I also want to thank the Mayor and all the other Members of the City Council for helping to make it possible for the Jubilee to be back on Water Avenue, where it has been for more than two decades, with the exception of 2017.”
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee has brought two sitting U.S. Presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; two former presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; a sitting Vice President, Joe Biden; numerous Cabinet members, Members of Congress, U.S. Senators, Civil Rights leaders, and internationally known celebrities.
This is the 53rd Anniversary and Commemoration of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. The Bridge Crossing Jubilee has been held every year for more than two decades. Most of the events are free to the public.
Annual Martin and Coretta Scott King ‘Unity Breakfast’
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee this year has more than 40 events over a four-day period. One of these events is the Annual Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 4th, on the campus of Wallace Community College Selma.
The Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast features messages from leaders from across the country. This year Congresswoman Maxine Waters will receive the 2018 Martin and Coretta King Unity Award. Congresswoman Waters has been an outspoken champion for justice and democracy for more than 25 years.
Other speakers at the breakfast include U.S. Senator Doug Jones, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Repairers of the Breach President Rev. Dr. William Barber, NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill, National Educational Association President Lily Eskelsen García, Southern Christian Leadership Conference National President Charles Steele, and Rainbow PUSH Coalition Founder and President Rev. Jesse Jackson. We also expect that Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Barbara Lee will share in the recognition of Congresswoman Waters.
Other presentations will include a performance by the Brazilian dance group, Viver Brasil Dance Company, which uses dance to support struggles for freedom. Also, the original Freedom Singers from the Voting Rights Struggle will be performing. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. William Barber is carrying on the Poor People’s Campaign in honor of and in the spirit of Dr. King. Dr. King initiated this Campaign just before he was assassinated in 1968.
More information on tickets for all events is available at:www.BridgeCrossingJubilee.com.
Special to the Democrat by: John Zippert,
Congresswoman 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
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.
Congressman John Lewis and colleagues including Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-7) as part of sit-in on House floor;
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.
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.