Newswire: SOS calls for using the Alabama Bicentennial to remember, recognize and rectify past history

        The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) held a press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama to call for Governor Kay Ivey, the Alabama State Legislature and the public to use the celebration of the Alabama Bicentennial to “remember, recognize and rectify the state’s racial history.  
        SOS is a movement comprised of more than 40 statewide organizations in Alabama focused on improving the lives of all Alabamians.  Sanders said, “We call upon Alabama to use this occasion of the celebration of the Bicentennial to remember all the history of the State of Alabama and to recognize the wrongs committed in order to repair and to restore the deepest hope for Alabama’s future.”

      “This year Alabama is celebrating its Bicentennial – the 200th anniversary of our state’s founding.  It is good to celebrate, but we need to understand what we celebrate. We need to know that we can do better.  We need to correct that which we did not do right.  To celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial without acknowledging all the history of Alabama – including the taking of Native American lands, the enslaving of Black people, and the taking of the dignity and rights of Black Alabama citizens during Jim Crow segregation – does not lay a strong foundation to build the next 200 years,” said attorney and former State Senator Hank Sanders at a news conference on the steps of the Alabama Capitol today at noon.   

“To celebrate the Bicentennial without changing the present does not truly the 200 years since Alabama’s founding. Alabama has hundreds of thousands of citizens without medical care, and Alabama can do something about that right now. All it has to do is expand Medicaid. That would be a true celebration of Alabama’s first 200 years,” said John Zippert, Chair of the SOS Health Committee and Chair of the Board of the Greene County Health System.

“The advertisements for the Bicentennial show Native Americans, African Americans and Whites, and that is good but it is misleading. The Confederate monuments still stand on Capitol grounds, and a statute of Dr. J. Marion Sims still stands on Capitol grounds. We can truly honor these 200 years by removing the Confederate monuments and putting up monuments to those who fought to preserve the United States of America, including the 6,000 Black soldiers from Alabama who served in the Union Army,” said attorney and Civil Rights activist Faya Rose Toure.

“The promotions of the Bicentennial honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Booker T. Washington, but there are no statues on the Capitol grounds recognizing them. As we go into the next 200 years, in the spirit of unity we need to start by expanding Medicaid, removing from the Capitol the statutes of those who fought the legitimate government of the United States, and including statutes of people who fought for and lifted those who were excluded. Today is International Human Rights Day, which is especially appropriate because we need to acknowledge the denial of human rights in Alabama’s past,” said Martha Morgan, attorney and Law Professor Emerita at the University of Alabama School of Law.

The Greene County Democrat is publishing a Guest Editorial, by Attorney Faya Rose Toure, on page 4 of this newspaper, which gives more details on the concerns which prompted the SOS press conference.

SOS calls on State of Alabama to remove memorial to Dr. J. Marion Sims on Capitol grounds

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Jon Broadway addresses SOS press conference calling for removal of statue

Montgomery, AL – SOS, the Save Our Selves Movement for Justice and Democracy, is asking the State of Alabama to remove the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims from the Capitol grounds.  SOS is also asking that the charges be dropped against Jon Broadway, who has been charged with Criminal Tampering in Montgomery County.

The press conference was held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 on the grounds of the Alabama Capitol. SOS is a grassroots movement of more than 40 Alabama statewide organizations working for social change and to promote justice and democracy in the state.
Standing on the grounds of the Alabama Capitol, state Senator Hank Sanders said: “The reason this memorial must be removed is because Dr. J. Marion Sims operated on a number of enslaved Black women without their consent and without anesthesia of any sort.
“Dr. Sims lived in Montgomery before moving to New York City.  Between 1845 and 1849, Sims performed numerous operations on multiple Black women in Montgomery, all without anesthesia or consent and sometimes with other doctors looking on.  Some of these women endured torturous surgeries repeated times. Alabama cannot have a statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims, a man who committed repeated atrocities against Black women in Alabama, on public grounds.”
Johnny Ford said: “Dr. Sims is widely known as the father of gynecology because, in large part, of these horrible medical experiments he conducted on enslaved Black women in Alabama.  Like the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments on Black men that took place in Alabama in the 20th Century, these atrocious actions that took place in Alabama in the 19th Century against Black women should, at the very least, result in an apology and the removal of this statue.  Memorials to Dr. Sims have been removed in New York and other states once Sims’ atrocities were brought to public and officials’ attentions. That has sadly not been the case in Alabama. This must change.”
Attorney Faya Rose Toure said: “The charges against Jon Broadway must be dismissed because he has done nothing wrong. In fact, he has done something right by calling attention to the memorial of a man who openly abused and tortured enslaved Black women.  From the facts I know, Mr. Broadway simply helped perform a skit about Dr. Sims’ actions and a little ketchup may have gotten on the statue during a performance given to draw attention to the torture and abuse that powerless Black women suffered at the hands of Sims.”
Ketchup was used in the skit on Confederate Memorial Day to symbolize the bloodshed that Dr. Sims caused to Black women. A small amount of ketchup was smeared on the pedestal of the statue as part of the protest.
Attorney Toure said, “It was also terrible that Mr. Jon Broadway was forced to leave jail in his underwear.  They took the clothes off his back because enforcement claimed they needed his clothes for evidence. Some observers pointed out that there were traces of ketchup on his clothes, which prompted the arresting officers to retain his clothes. The police did not offer any replacement clothing when they released Broadway.  All of this is connected to the recently passed state law to protect Confederate memorials.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “This happened the same day that other people were hanging wreaths on the Capitol grounds for Confederate Memorial Day, and none of those people were arrested for Criminal Tampering or for anything else.  Yet the actions of a man who was trying to present a full picture behind the history of another monument were seen as tampering, and Mr. Broadway was arrested based on the content of his message.  This press conference today is the initial step in a series of efforts to bring peace and justice to this spot where this memorial now sits and to provide the full picture of the history of these memorials and monuments.”