President Biden renews commitment to passage of John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act at Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee

L To R: President Joe Biden, Cong. Terri Sewell, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson in wheelchair, rolled by son Cong. Jonathan Jackson, Krysten Clarke and Spiver W. Gordon
Attorney Faya Rose Toure addresses gathering at Commemoration March.
Rev. Jesse Jackson receives special tribute at Unity Breakfast.
Senator Hank Sanders at Martin and Coretta Unity Breakfast Rev. Martin Luther King III sitting at right
Freedom Singers bring inspiration throughout Jubilee.

At Sunday’s rally at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, President Biden renewed his commitment to passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, even if it requires waiving the U. S. Senate’s filibuster rules.

Biden accompanied by foot soldiers, current civil rights leaders and thousands of marchers crossed the bridge in the annual reenactment of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march – March 7, 1965, when 600 marchers were met and beaten by hundreds of Alabama State Troopers and Sheriffs deputies. Later that month, Dr. Martin Luther King led marchers from Selma to Montgomery, completing the march and paving the way for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In his statement, President Biden said: “The right to vote, to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty,” 
 “This fundamental right remains under assault. Conservative Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years. Since the 2020 election, a wave of states has passed dozens, dozens of anti-voting laws fueled by the big lie,” he insisted.
 The President continued. “We must redouble our efforts and renew our commitment to protecting the freedom to vote. “We know that we must get the votes in Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act. I’ve made it clear: I will not let a filibuster obstruct the sacred right to vote.”
In his comments President Biden urged passage of the George Floyd Police Reform Act to implement changes in the criminal justice system across the nation. He also urged passage of a ban on assault weapons, like the AR-15, which have hurt people in recent multiple shootings at schools, theaters, and shopping centers.
The President called for building the economy from “the bottom up and the middle out; and for the rich to pay their fair share of taxes.” He said that he was ready to stand by Selma and other places in the state ravaged by recent storms to rebuild better than in the past. He said over $8 million had already been distributed under the FEMA disaster declaration for the January 12th tornados.
Biden was introduced by Charles Mauldin, a foot soldier, who was in the third row of marchers on Bloody Sunday. Mauldin explained that all Black public officials and others registered and voting under the 1965 Voting Rights Act owed a debt to the 600 ordinary people from Selma and surrounding areas who decided that they would take action to make a change.
Mauldin initiated a “Foot Soldiers Breakfast” on Saturday morning of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, ten years ago, to honor those who participated in Bloody Sunday and the Voting Rights Movement in Selma. At this year’s breakfast, the foot soldiers organization announced they had secured a property near the Carver Housing Project for a “Foot Soldiers Memorial Park” to recognize the contributions of the foot soldiers and to inspire the next generations to become active in positive social change for the Selma community.
Faya Rose Toure, Selma attorney, civil rights activist, and co-founder, with her husband, Hank Sanders, of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary, also spoke on the program at the foot of the bridge with President Biden.
Toure said racism is still active and blatant in the Alabama Black Belt along with immense poverty and an abusive criminal justice system. She pointed out to the President, “Not a single white elected official is present on the stage or in the VIP seating for the event. Also, there are less that ten local white citizens involved in the Bridge Crossing Jubilee program. There is no school in the Alabama Black Belt, an area of majority Black population that teaches Black History!”
Commenting on the recent tornados, Toure said, “Mr. President. Not only must we build back Selma better, but we must also build back Selma fairer, if we are interested in justice and progress for the people of Selma and surrounding communities.
Toure also told the President, “I do not think you are too old to run again. My mother said the Blacker the berry; the older the berry, the sweeter the juice … “
A number of the people on the stage and in the VIP seating for the President’s address, had participated earlier in the annual Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast. Among them, Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was in a wheelchair, Congresswoman Terri Sewell and other members of the Black Congressional Caucus, Rev. William Barber of the Poor Peoples Campaign, Dr. Joseph Mitchell, President of Wallace Community College, Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition, Maya Wiley, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Cliff Albright, Black Voters Matter, and many others.

Terri Sewell brings her ‘Congress in your community tour’ to Boligee, Alabama

Alabama’s 7th District Congresswoman Terri Sewell brought her ‘Congress in your community tour’ to Boligee, Alabama on April 19, 2022. She is with Mayor Hattie Samuels of Boligee, in photo, who introduced her at the meeting.
Sewell spoke about working hard in Congress to bring the funding and benefits of the American Rescue Plan and Infrastructure bills to her Alabama Black Belt district, which includes Greene County.
“We are doing better under President Biden than President Trump. We are getting our fair share and there is more equity and accountability to the people, in this Administration,” said Sewell. She also pointed out that she was the only member of the Alabama Congressional delegation to actually vote for the Infrastructure bill. “ I have let the state agencies handing the infrastructure funds for roads, bridges, broadband and other improvements know our priorities in the Black Belt,” said Sewell.
Sewell said she will continue her fight for voting rights despite the Senate’s failure to pass it or bypass the filibuster to approve the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. After answering some voter questions, Sewell said she was going to visit Branch Heights to view the tornado damage there firsthand and see what she could do to provide resources to assist the people who suffered damages to their homes.

Newswire: Thousands march this past weekend for Voting Rights, D.C. Statehood

Marchers in Washington, D. C.

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Like the suppressive bills passed and on the table in Republican-led states and the reluctance by some Democratic senators to abolish the filibuster, the sweltering heat and suffocating humidity only proved as two more obstacles that thousands of Americans refused to let stand in their way. Marchers rallied in the nation’s capital and cities across the country, demanding passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the For the People Act, and for D.C. statehood. The march came on the 58th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Led by King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, the “March On For Washington and Voting Rights” highlighted how laws and proposed bills in Texas, Georgia, Arizona, and other states disproportionately affect people of color. Organizers and attendees also made it clear that D.C. statehood must happen and would be another mechanism to blunt voter suppression efforts. “Our country is backsliding to the unconscionable days of Jim Crow,” King III told the cheering crowd gathered at the National Mall in Washington. And some of our senators are saying, ‘Well, we can’t overcome the filibuster,’” he continued. “I say to you today: Get rid of the filibuster. That is a monument to white supremacy we must tear down.” Nearly a dozen state representatives from Texas also took the stage. Those lawmakers were part of a Democratic contingent who fled the Lone Star State to break a quorum that prevented Republicans from moving forward with voter suppression bills. “Texas is the worst state to vote in, in the entire nation,” U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) told the crowd. Joined by his wife, Arndrea, and daughter Yolanda, King declared that “we are marching to protect our power, to protect our voice, to protect our voting rights.” Black Lives Matter banners decorated the crowd, as marchers took to the streets demanding action on the Senate filibuster that has hampered efforts to pass the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and other laws that would protect voters. At least 18 states have already enacted voter suppression laws this year. With Republican opposition to equal rights laws, many have demanded an end to the filibuster, which would enable Congress to pass laws by a simple majority vote. As it stands, Democrats in the Senate must vote unanimously in favor of the legislation and have at least 10 Republicans join them. “I know activism works. I’ve seen it in my own family,” Yolanda King, the 13-year-old daughter of King III, told the crowd. “The torch is being passed to us, and it’s time for our generation to wake up the world so we can stop talking about the dream and start living the dream,” she continued. “We will be the generation that earns and wins our freedom once and for all.”

Greene County commemorates 52nd Annual Freedom Day at Courthouse Square; Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee keynotes; vaccinations offered

Staff of the Greene County Health System administering Johnson and Johnson one shot COVID-19 vaccine as part of the program
L to R: John Zippert , Anita Lewis , Greene County Housing Authority Director, Lewis Leonard, who was the first person vaccinate and received a $100 gift certificate, and Spiver W.Gordon
L t o R: Spiver W. Gordon presents certificate to keynote speaker, Johnny Ford , Mayor Latasha Johnson, Lorenzo French and John Zippert

The Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement Museum sponsored the 52nd Annual Freedom Day Program at the Old Courthouse Square on Saturday, July 31, 2021.

About one hundred people attended the outside meeting, in blistering

heat, to commemorate the Special Election on July 29, 1969, when Black people were elected to control the County Commission and School Board in Greene County. 

The Special Election of July 1969 was ordered by the U. S. Supreme Court, after local white officials left the Black candidates, running in the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA) off the ballot in the November 1968 General Election. The meeting was to commemorate over half a century of Black political progress in Greene County.

The Greene County Health System was on hand to give Johnson and Johnson one-shot coronavirus vaccinations at the event to persons who needed a vaccination. Seven persons were vaccinated and many others received information on the importance of vaccination to protect their health and the health of their families, friends and community. The Museum and other sponsors provided gift certificates to those who were vaccinated.

Spiver Gordon, President of the Museum spoke on the occasion for the program. “Many things have changed for the better since 1969. Electing Black officials allowed us to change many of the insulting racist practices n Greene County but we still need to keep working and keep moving forward.

Everything that happened, happened because ordinary people stood up to help make the needed changes.”

Lorenzo French, Chair of the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee, lamented, “Too many of our candidates are ‘bought and paid for’ before they run for office and when they get into office, they don’t do what we need them to do. We must recruit and train better candidates that will serve the people.”

Johnny Ford, eight term Mayor of Tuskegee and currently a City Council member gave the keynote address. Ford has served as head of the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors, National Conference of Black Mayors and World Conference of Black Mayors. He recently tried to saw the base of the Confederate Soldiers Memorial in Tuskegee to topple the statue.

Ford thanked Greene County for its work over the years since 1969 to pave the way for Black elected officials in Alabama and across the nation. “Today we have 50 Black mayors in Alabama, 200 across the South and more than 700 Mayors and Council-people across The United States, all inspired by what happened in Greene County,” said Ford.

Ford urged people to get vaccinated for the coronavirus and save their lives and the lives of the people around them. “Some people have hesitancy because of what happened in Tuskegee years ago in the syphilis study, where 600 Black men were denied medicine, to study the effects on them. In this case we are being offered a safe vaccine that was developed with the participation of Black doctors. Everyone should take the vaccine,” declared Ford in his remarks.

Ford said, “We have some more rivers to cross. We must Expand Medicaid for poor and working people in Alabama. We must end voter suppression and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We must end police brutality and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”

Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson also addressed the crowd and urged everyone to participate in government by voting and attending meetings. She also urged everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the coronavirus, especially the new delta strain, which is more powerful and contagious.

Spiver Gordon concluded the meeting by giving a plaque to speaker Mayor Johnny Ford, gift certificates to those who took coronavirus shots at the event and some door prizes to those in attendance. Refreshments were provided at the end of the meeting.