‘voter fraud is a lie, voter suppression is alive’ Rev. Barber: “We want full restoration of the Voting Rights Act now!”

By: John Zippert,  Co-Publisher

Amid the celebration and commemoration at this weekend’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Alabama, celebrating the 52nd anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday March” in 1965, there was a demand for “Full Restoration of the Voting Rights Act” by Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina Repairers of the Breach and Forward Together Movement. Rev. Barber’s demand was echoed by other speakers and was the central issue in many of the workshops and programs of the Jubilee.
In addition to the workshops, there was a parade, golf tournament, dinners, a unity breakfast, street festival, and the march reenactment on Sunday afternoon. Ten thousand or more marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge behind a host of local and national leaders, including: Rev. Jesse Jackson of PUSH, Charles Steele of SCLC, Rev. Barber, Faya Rose Toure, Senator Hank Sanders, Rev. Mark Thompson of Sirius 127 Radio and many others. The Masons of Alabama turned out in force and in uniform, to participate in the march.
The weekend culminated in Monday’s “Slow-Ride from Selma to Montgomery” with a caravan of 35 vehicles including a Greene County School bus, carrying the members of the Eutaw High Ninth Grade Academy. The caravan was met by local Montgomery leaders for a rally on the steps of the State Capitol.
Prior to the re-enactment march, Attorney Faya Rose Toure pointed out that the Edmund Pettus Bridge was named for an Alabama Klu Klux Klan leader and that the name should be changed to honor Ms. Amelia Boyton Robinson and the Voting Rights Foot-soldiers who won the 1965 VRA.
Rev. William Barber spoke many times, as ketnote for the Sunday morning breakfast, at Brown’s Chapel Church before the march reenactment, on a national radio broadcast from the Dallas County Courthouse on Sunday evening and at the rally at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery at the end of the slow-ride.

Rev. Barber made similar points in each speech. At the breakfast, we invoked the martyrs of the civil and voting rights movement – Dr. King, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Jonathan Daniels, James Reid, Viola Luizzo, and un-named others, whose blood he said was crying out to people today to continue the work of restoring the Voting Rights Act, fighting voter suppression in all its forms, and building a more beloved community involving Blacks, Whites, Latinos and all religious faiths.
He said he had come to Selma, ”not for the nostalgia of history but to listen for the ‘blood’ that was shed and soaked into the concrete of the bridge and the wooden pews of the churches.” Barber said that America was headed by an egotistical narsisistic man, “but this is not the first time that a racist was in the White House. Steve Bannon is not the first white Supremacist to be in high places. Trump is not the first President to hold these views. Many of his predacessors felt the same way.”
“On June 25, 2013”, Barber said, “the U. S. Supreme Court in the Holder vs. Shelby County case, overturned Section 4 and nullified Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Within an hour of the destruction of pre-clearence of voting changes in the Shelby decision, Texas approved a voter ID law and other changes; two months later, North Carolina passed voter suppression laws.
Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and other Southern states also passed voter ID and other voter suppression measures. Voter fraud is a lie, voter suppression is alive.”
“Twenty-one states adopted 47 regressive voting changes within a year of the Shelby decision, The 2016 Presidential election was the first in half a century without the protection of the Voting Rights Act.
868 fewer polling places were allowed in Black and Brown communities around the nation. In the 25 Presidential debates, both Republican and Democratic, no mention was made of the issue of voter suppression in our communities,” said Rev. Barber.
“Long before Russia interfered in our elections, voter suppression had hacked and distorted the system,” said Barber. He pointed out that in Wisconsin 300,000 voters were disenfranchised due to the voter ID requirements and Trump defeated Hillary by 20,000 votes in that state.
Senator Hank Sanders spoke to the problems of voter suppression, voter ID, Legislative gerrymandering in Alabama, Packing and stacking Black voters in majority Black districts. He also recounted the history of now Attorney General Jeff Sessions role in initiating voter suppression in Alabama with voter fraud trials of civil rights activists.
Rev. Barber said, “ the 11 former Confederate states have 171 electoral votes, you only need 99 more to have the 270 needed to win the electoral college. These states have 26 U. S. senators, the extremists need only 25 more Senators to control the Senate which they are doing now. They have the House of Representatives, statehouses, county courthouses, we have work to do to fully restore the Voting Rights Act.”
As part of the evening radio broadcast and rally at the Dallas County Courthouse, Rev. Barber displayed maps, which showed the concentration of poverty, child poverty, low wages-right-to-work states, states that did not expand Medicaid, overlapped with the states that adopted new voter suppression measures. Most of these maps showed concentration of these problems in the rural South. Rev. Barber also displayed a map of states and areas with a concentration of protestant Evangelical Christians and once again the overlap was clear. He called this a “mis-teaching of faith and a false interpretation of the Bible”.
At the rally in Montgomery, speaker after speaker blasted the voter suppression, racial gerrymandering and limits to voting by the people. Rev. Barber said, ”We must get ready for a 100 days of disruption and civil disobedience in our state houses and in Congress to work for full restoration of the Voting Rights Act. Different state organizations should be preparing to go to Washington, D. C. and non-violently disrupt the process qnd win back our full voting rights.

Statement by Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) and the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) opposing the nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as U.S. Attorney General

Shown above : Albert Turner,  Albert Turner leading march across Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in 1965; Turner is second row with Bob Mance behind Rev. Hosea Williams and John Lewis.. Albert Turner leading march across Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in 1965; Turner is second row with Bob Mance behind Rev. Hosea Williams and John Lewis. Jeff Sessions, Albert Turner displays redistricting map of Perry County to his wife Evelyn and assosicaite Spencer Hogue, Jr. The Three were indicted, tried and found not guilty of 72 charges of voter fraud.,Alabama State Troopers give two minute warning to marchers on Bloody Sunday; Albert Turner is standing in second row with white cap.

December 10, 2016

The Board of Directors of the ANSC and the Steering Committee of SOS are issuing this joint statement in opposition to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nomination of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be the next Attorney General of the United States. We urge the United States Senate not to confirm the nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to become Attorney General.
We are compelled to issue this statement, because as citizens and residents of Alabama, we are intimately knowlegable and keenly aware of the harm that Senator Sessions has brought to our people and our state. We are issuing this statement as a warning to people in other states of the United States that Jeff Sessions is singularly unfit, manifestly unqualified and totally insensitive to serve as the chief law enforcement agent for our great nation.
We are especially concerned that as Attorney General, he will be charged with enforcing civil rights, voting rights, and human rights laws, as well as being the primary caretaker of our criminal justice system. A criminal justice system and the policing mechanisms that support it are in urgent need of reform. By education, temperament and actions over the past 40 years, Jeff Sessions has shown himself to be unfit, unqualified and insensitive to serve in this critical position.
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (Jeff) III was born in Selma on December 24, 1946. He grew up and attended schools in Wilcox County, Alabama, before school integration. He attended Huntington College and University of Alabama law school, graduating in 1973. He was raised in one of the poorest counties in America, with an 80% Black majority population, during the time of “Jim Crow” and before the changes brought by the Civil Rights Movement. Nothing he has said or done in the 40 years of his professional life indicates any effort on his part to re-examine, reconsider or modify his cultural world view of “white supremacy” into which he was born, bred and operates, up to and including his current service in the United States Senate.
We are especially concerned with his selective prosecution in 1985 of the “Perry County Three” – Albert Turner, Evelyn Turner and Spencer Hoage, for alleged voter fraud in connect with absentee ballots. Jeff Sessions was the U. S. Attorney in the Southern District of Alabama (Mobile). He indicted the three on 72 charges of voter fraud and mail fraud, since most of the absentee ballots were mailed in to the Circuit Clerk’s office.
Albert Turner was an aide to Dr. Martin Luther King as State Director of the SCLC in Alabama. Turner also worked as the Manager of the Southwest Alabama Farmers Cooperative (SWAFCA). Turner can be seen in photos of Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral, leading the mule train carrying the casket. Turner can also be prominently seen in the photographs of the Bloody Sunday 1965 Voting Rights March. He is in the second line of the march directly behind John Lewis. Turner helped to plan the March as a reaction to the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion (Perry Co.) Alabama a few weeks prior. Turner worked in Perry County and throughout the Alabama Black Belt registering people to vote, doing voter education and GOTV work, including encouraging the homebound to vote absentee.
Sessions prosecution of the trio was an act of voter suppression directed at reducing the turnout and involvement of Black voters in elections throughout the Black Belt. The selection of Turner, his wife, and Spencer Hoage, outspoken advocates for civil rights, voting rights and economic justice for poor and Black people, was not an accidental but a calculated act by Sessions to intimate voters in the Black Belt and the state of Alabama. Federal prosecutors in other Alabama jurisdictions following Sessions lead initiated other similar selective prosecutions of civil rights and community leaders in Greene, Hale, Pickens and surrounding counties.
Ultimately, because of dedicated lawyers and community support, the Perry County Three were acquitted of all 72 charges that Sessions tried to bring against them.
Later in 1986, President Reagan nominated Sessions for a seat on the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. At Sessions’ confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four Department of Justice lawyers who had worked with Sessions testified that he made racially offensive remarks. One of those lawyers, J. Gerald Hebert, testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” (Sessions said he was referring to their support of the Sandinistas) and that these organizations did more harm than good by trying to force civil rights “down the throats of people.”
Hebert, a civil rights lawyer, said that he did not consider Sessions a racist, and that Sessions “has a tendency sometimes to just say something, and I believe these comments were along that vein. Hebert also said that Sessions had called a white civil rights attorney “maybe” a “disgrace to his race.” Sessions said he did not recall making that remark and he did not believe it.
Thomas Figures, a Black Assistant U.S. Attorney, testified that Sessions said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot”. Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, but did apologize for it, saying that he considered the Klan to be “a force for hatred and bigotry.” Figures also testified that on one occasion, when the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, sent the office instructions to investigate a case that Sessions had tried to close, Figures and Sessions “had a very spirited discussion regarding how the case should then be handled; in the course of that argument, Mr. Sessions threw the file on a table, and remarked, ‘I wish I could decline on all of them,'” by which Figures said Sessions meant civil rights cases generally.
Figures (who was the brother of the late State Senator Michael Figures, a founding member and officer of ANSC) also said that Sessions had called him “boy,” which Sessions denied. He also testified that “Mr. Sessions admonished me to ‘be careful what you say to white folks.” In 1992, Figures was charged with attempting to bribe a witness by offering a $50,000 to a convicted drug dealer who was to testify against his client. Figures claimed the charge was retaliation for his role in blocking the Sessions nomination. Sessions denied this, saying that he recused himself from the case. Figures was ultimately acquitted. We mention this to show that Sessions has a vindictive attitude to those who oppose his view of unbridled white supremacy.
Albert Turner also traveled to Washington to testify in opposition to Sessions nomination to a Federal judgeship in Alabama because of his selective and unjust prosecution of voting rights activists.
On June 5, 1986, the Committee voted 10–8 against recommending the nomination to the Senate floor, with Republican Senators Charles
Mathias of Maryland and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania voting with the Democrats. It then split 9–9 on a vote to send Sessions’ nomination to the Senate floor with no recommendation, this time with Specter in support. A majority was required for the nomination to proceed. The pivotal votes against Sessions came from his home state’s Democratic Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama. Although Heflin had previously backed Sessions, he began to oppose Sessions after hearing testimony, concluding that there were “reasonable doubts” over Sessions’ ability to be “fair and impartial.” The nomination was withdrawn on July 31, 1986.
Sessions became only the second nominee to the federal judiciary in 48 years whose nomination was killed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was quoted then as saying that the Senate on occasion had been insensitive to the rights and reputation of nominees.
There are some who say in the thirty years since his work as a U. S. Attorney in Mobile that Jeff Sessions has mellowed and changed his views allowing him to be elected Attorney General of the State of Alabama and U. S. Senator. We do not think so and we list some of his recent actions during the past ten years in the U. S. Senate to show that he has not tempered and changed his deeply held white supremacist and white privileged views.
Sessions supported the major legislative efforts of the George W. Bush administration, including the 2001 and 2003 tax cut packages, the Iraq War, and a proposed national amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He opposed the establishment of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the 2009 stimulus bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he opposed all three of President Barack Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court.
More specifically, during the second Obama term in office, Sessions:
• Led opposition to a bipartisan effort in 2016 to ease sentencing guidelines for non-violent offenders;

• Co-sponsored the Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act, which would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement, administer, or enforce HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule;
• Voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor and called Justice Sotomayor unsuitable for the bench due to her past affiliation with a civil rights organization;
• Voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell;
• Voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act;
• Voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act;
• Voted against reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act;
• Opposed President Obama’s 2012 Executive Action on immigration which granted deportation relief and work permits to thousands of undocumented immigrants (DACA); and
• Described the Voting Rights Act as a ‘piece of intrusive legislation.’ in supporting the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder, which ruled Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, which “gutted” the core enforcement of the VRA.
We feel the nomination by President-elect Donald Trump of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States is a dangerous step, which will undermine the role of the U.S. Justice Department as the leading force for enforcement of civil rights, voting rights, womens rights, immigrant rights and all laws promoting justice in our nation.
We, as fellow citizens of Alabama, call upon the Senate Judiciary Committee and the U. S. Senate to once again reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions as unfit, disqualified by his own deeply held beliefs and insensitive to the needs and aspirations of all Americans for non-discrimination and simple justice in their lives.
We urge everyone who feels that Jeff Sessions should not be confirmed to be Attorney General of the United States communicate your views and concerns to Congress, the press and your fellow citizens, as we have done.
For more information contact:

• Ms. Shelley Fearson, ANSC State Coordinator, Montgomery, Alabama
Phone 334-262-0932
• John Zippert, ANSC State President, 205/657-0273
• Senator Hank Sanders, SOS Steering Committee, : 205/526-4531

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.

 

 

21st Century youth presents prelude music at Unity Breakfast

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21st Century Youth Leadership Movement (21C) participated in the annual Bridge Crossing Commemoration and Jubilee held March 4-6, 2016 in Selma, AL.  21 C Chapters represented included Greene County, two chapters in Wilcox County, Macon County, Tallapoosa County, Lee County, Dallas County and New Orleans Chapter.
The youth participated in the Jubilee Parade; the Turn up Youth Summit; the Freedom Flame Awards Gala; the Martin & Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast as well as the Jubilee Festival. They also were part of the thousands in the commemorative march from Brown’s continuing Chapel across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Muhammad Ali, a junior at Brooker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee, represented 21C at the Unity Breakfast as the youth voice bringing remarks on unity and the role of youth leaders. The 21C Leaders also provided the prelude music at the Sunday morning Unity Breakfast which consisted of the original leadership inspiring songs created at the various leadership training camps by Attorney Faya Rose Toure and 21st Century youth.

51st anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday March’ draws thousands to Selma

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“This is not only a celebration and commemoration of the past but a continuation of the movement and a statement of the struggle for racial, social, political and economic justice that still face us,” said Faya Rose Toure on Sunday at the pre-march rally on the steps of Browns Chapel Church in Selma, Alabama.
There were 40 events during the March 3-7 weekend that comprise the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the marches on Bloody Sunday and subsequent marches in 1965 which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.There was a Saturday breakfast to honor footsoldiers of the movement, a parade, a beauty pageant, a Sunday Unity Breakfast, Freedom Flame Banquet, golf tournament, numerous workshops and presentations on history and current struggles. At the Unity Breakfast, Congresswomen Terri Sewell presented a replica of the Footsoldiers Gold Medal, recently awarded by Congress to participants in the 1965 marches, to Hank and Faya Rose Sanders. The Sanders have developed the Bridge Crossing Jubilee and Museum over the past three decades to help people to understand the history of the voting rights struggle in America and continue to work to preserve these basic democratic rights for all people. They said they would place the medal on exhibit in the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma.
Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina was the keynote speaker at the Unity Breakfast. Clyburn said, “If we fail to learn the lessons of history, then they will repeat. We are seeing some similarities now in our Presidential election to the elections in Germany in 1932, when a demagogue was first elected to office and then became a fascist dictator.”
“Things that happened before can happen again. Things do not happen in a linear fashion. They go one way and then swing back another way. The people must be ready to intervene and participate in the process.
“Last year, we were here with a bi-partisan group of 100 Congress people and the President for the Fiftieth Anniversary but the Voting Rights Advancement Act has not had a hearing and not moved one inch since last year. People will show up for the celebration but not the work,” said Clyburn.
He urged the audience especially young people, not to give up. “Most of us have a resume which lists only the things that went right – not the times that things didn’t go as planned.
I ran for Congress, three times and lost. I did not win until the fourth time. Many people said three strikes and you’re out, but those are baseball rules. There are no numerical limits on trying in life,” said Clyburn.
The names of many young Black people killed by police in the past year came up as rallying calls for actions at various times during the weekend. The case of Gregory Gunn who was shot five times, last month, by police in Montgomery was mentioned in the criminal justice workshops. Rev. Kenneth Glascow of The Ordinary People’s Organization (TOPS) introduced the mothers of Christopher Jerome Thomas of Dothan, Alabama and Cameron Massey of Eufala, Alabama. Glascow led a “backwards march” across the bridge, before the larger march, to call attention to the inequities in the justice system and the unresolved pending cases of police violence and misconduct toward Black people.
In a Saturday workshop at the Center for Non-violence, Truth and Reconciliation, the speaker was Bryant Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative. He spoke about his life experience of working to represent and exonerate prisoners on death row in Alabama. He equated the current killing of young Black men with the prior era of lynching in the South between Reconstruction and the end of World War II. He said over 400 Black people were lynched around the South. His organization is in the process of placing historical markers at the places where these lynchings occurred.
On Sunday afternoon about 10,000 marchers, including a large contingent of members from Alabama Masonic Lodges and their auxiliaries participated in the reenactment march from Browns Chapel Church through Selma and across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. A post march rally was held in the Memorial Park on the east side of the bridge.