SCLC supports local union members in grievances against the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center

Dr.Charles Steele protesting at VA Medical Center

Special to the Democrat by John Zippert,

Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. President of the national Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) from Atlanta and Tuscaloosa SCLC leaders joined with disgruntled employees of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Tuscaloosa to voice their grievances against the management of the facility.
SCLC President Steele is a former resident of Tuscaloosa, who served on the Tuscaloosa City Council and as a State Senator representing Tuscaloosa in the Alabama State Legislature.
Steele joined union leader, Dr. Juanetta Jemison-Morgan and others at a press conference on Sunday, October 11th in front of the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center to explain their complaints. The union employees have returned each Sunday afternoon to march and protest at the VA Medical Center.
Ms. Jemison-Morgan, head of the National Nurses United local, said, “We are hard working employees of the facility but we feel qualified Black employees have been denied proper promotions and advancement. We also feel new positions are not posted properly for current employees to apply for positions. Less qualified persons have been employed over persons who were working, because of race, and then asked to help train the newly hired staff members.”
“We face racism in this Federal VA employment system and we face a shortage of supplies and other complaints. The supervisors have referred to the em0loyees as ’slaves’ which is unacceptable at this time in history. We demand that John Merkle, Director of the Tuscaloosa VA facility and David Carden, Director of Nurses be removed and replaced for their discriminatory practices and actions,” said Jemison-Morgan.
Steele pointed out that employees have been assisted in filing individual complaints of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) but because of a “culture of racism in this Federal medical facility, SCLC has become involved and is raising these issues with the Regional Veteran Administration officials in Atlanta. We are trying to negotiate an equitable settlement.”
Ms. Jemison-Morgan said, “We will continue marching every Sunday until our grievances are settled and our demands are met.”

Former Greene County Commissioner Edna Chambers honored with special salute: It’s Your Time

Shown above Joe Chambers, Cathelean Steele, Edna Chambers and Dr. Charles Steele.

Mrs. Edna Chambers, the first African American female to serve on the Greene County Commission, was honored for her outstanding community work at a special program entitled, It’s Your Time, held June 15, 2019 at the Eutaw Activity Center. Mrs. Chambers is noted as a trailblazer, civil rights activists and humanitarian in Greene County and throughout the state of Alabama.
Chambers, representing District 1, served two terms on the Greene County Commission between 1998- 2004. Johnnie M. Knott, served at the Mistress of Ceremony. Mrs. Chambers was escorted by her son, Joe Chambers and grandson Ivory Chambers, Jr.
Commissioner Lester “Bop” Brown delivered the history of her political career. Brown stated that due to a federal indictment at that time, he could not seek political office so he contacted Mrs. Chambers. He revealed that he asked her to run for the District 1 seat and before she could say anything he encouraged her to think about it and hung up the phone.
Brown further explained that not only did Mrs. Chambers win the position, she ran and won by a landslide. Her platform was honest government, dedicated service and commitment to try and lift falling humanity. Her interest in Greene County’s welfare goes beyond politics. Mrs. Chambers often stated, “I want to work for all the people without regard to race, color, sex or creed.”
Prior to running for office, Mrs. Chambers had just retired from the Greene County Health Department as a home health care employee. She and her husband for many years operated a small community grocery store. She was also a licensed agent with Primerica Insurance Company.
In her capacity as a community leader, Mrs. Chambers helped and assisted with the following: Camp Montgomery, Knoxville Volunteer Fire Department, Montgomery Recreation Center and the USDA Commodity Distribution. She is also an active member of the Greene County Chapter of Alabama New South Coalition.
Mrs. Chambers attends Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Knoxville. Her pastor, Rev. Robert Ellis, was on hand to provide words of encouragement and blessing of the food. She is the mother of two children Joe and Ivory. Ivory, her eldest child, died in 1997.
The theme for Edna Chamber’s Day, It’s Your Time, was echoed throughout the event with musical selections presented by the Greene County Mass Choir.
Mrs. Cathelean Steele introduced her husband, the guest speaker, stating that Mrs. Chambers played matchmaker for them. Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. President /CEO of National SCLC served as guest speaker. Steele stated that although he has traveled to many countries around the world, he will never forget that he is a product of Greene County.
Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele thanked Mrs. Chamber for being a trailblazer for not just for women but for all of us. A resolution was presented by the Greene County Sheriff Department.
Other program participants included: Scripture reading by Minister Johnnie Chambers Sankey; Prayer by Rev. Michael Billingsley; Welcome/Greeting by Mary Beck and Carolyn Beck; Occasion by Mary Harris and Lester Brown; Musical Tribute by Antonio Pearson and Samoria Beck.Various family members and friends shared stories of inspiration and appreciation in how Mrs. Chambers touched their lives. Many spoke of Mrs. Chambers as a quiet, seemingly low-keyed person, but when she spoke, everyone knew exactly what her position was and what actions she would take.
Mrs. Chambers thanked everyone for coming out and showing her love and she thanked the Lord for his many blessings.