SOS National Day of Prayer Caravan holds prayer at Governor’s Mansion

Prayers of protest leaders to Expand Medicaid, Increase Testing and Save Lives
Montgomery, AL – The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held a caravan on May 7, 2020 with numerous cars circling the Alabama Governor’s Mansion downtown to urge Governor Ivey and others to expand Medicaid, save rural hospitals and focus COVID-19 resources to those most in need. After circling the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Montgomery, instead of the usual press conference, leaders held a prayer conference. Leaders were asked to take one minute or less to address their issues in uplifted prayer.
Attorney Hank Sanders said: “I pray that God will open the minds and hearts of Governor Ivey and other Alabama leaders so that they will immediately implement the expansion of Medicaid and will focus the pandemic resources to those most in need. I pray that God will strengthen the hand of the Governor so with a stroke of the pen she will expand Medicaid. I pray that those who are protesting to open up Alabama economically will also pray that the Governor will open Medicaid expansion in our state.”
World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “I pray that our national leaders will do whatever it takes to limit the deaths and number of people who are getting the coronavirus. I pray that they will open back up the window for Medicaid coverage so people who now qualify can become covered.”
Civil Rights Advocate Attorney Faya Toure said: “I pray that people whose workplaces are too dangerous will not be forced to work and they will be able to get unemployment benefits if they choose not to work as a result of unsafe work environments. They should not have to choose between work with the possibility of death and survival – both physically and economically.”
Chair of the Greene County Health System, John Zippert, said: “I prevail upon state leaders to save rural hospitals, not only during this pandemic but also from now on. Rural hospitals must be strengthened economically, staff wise and in every way so they can keep serving the people of rural Alabama and other areas.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “I pray the state will truly embrace testing and tracing, so that everyone who wants to get tested can do so without cost and so that people will know when they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive. I pray this because for Alabama to safely open, we must have available testing and tracing for all.
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “I prevail upon the leaders of Alabama not to forget those in jails and prisons. I ask that their hearts will be touched in a way that they will let those who are not dangerous to the public out of prisons and jails and those who are in jails but have not been convicted out while they are pending trial. I ask that prison and jail sentences will not be death sentences because of COVID-19 as both prisons and jails have become hotspots for the virus. I urge our leaders act to save lives.”
During the SOS National Day of Prayer Caravan and Prayer Conference at the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery, black and white balloons were again tied to the cars in the caravan and released at the end of the prayer conference in recognition of the lives lost and the lives in jeopardy in Alabama right now.
For more information, contact the SOS Movement for Justice and Democracy website and Facebook page.

When White people get a cold, Black people get pneumonia SOS holds press conference at Alabama State Capitol steps to highlight health disparities and advocate for immediate expansion of Medicaid

Montgomery, AL: The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS), held a witness and press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. The witness by SOS leaders, standing six feet apart, was to highlight the disparities in health impacts for Black and other minority communities caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
SOS advocated to Governor Kay Ivey and state leaders to immediately expand Medicaid to provide insurance coverage to over 340,000 working people in the state of Alabama as a meaningful response to the corona virus pandemic.
SOS also urged state and local leaders to release all non-violent offenders in prison and persons held in jails for failure to make bail, as a humanitarian response to the coronavirus pandemic since adequate social distancing is not possible for incarcerated people in Alabama’s overcrowded prisons.
Attorney and former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said: “Unfortunately, the reality is that when White people get colds in our society, Black people and other Minorities get pneumonia. The coronavirus has shined a blinding light on this longstanding reality. Because the coronavirus is much more contagious and deadly than pneumonia, Black people and Minorities are at much greater risks from the coronavirus. The time to address these inequities and disparities is now.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “The statistics are overwhelming in showing the greater and deadlier impact on Black and other minority communities when it comes to the coronavirus. The statistics for today from the Alabama Department of Public Health show that 43% of the 3,800 people who have tested positive for coronavirus are Black and that 53% of the 99 deaths attributed to the virus are Black. This is in a state where 25% of the population overall is Black. These are cold, hard facts. This is an opportunity not only to act to save lives now – but also to save lives in the future. Alabama must seize this opportunity now and expand Medicaid.”
Attorney and Civil Rights Advocate Faya Toure said: “Black and other Minorities are hit by the quintuple whammies of: (1) poverty; (2) lack of health care and access to care due in large part to the failure to expand Medicaid in states that have greater Black and Minority populations; (3) difficulty in securing health insurance due to cost and jobs that do not provide health care; (4) jobs that expose them to greater risk of contacting the coronavirus; and (5) closer living spaces, whether that is in the home, the community or in our prisons and jails.”
Founder of the World Conference of Mayors and former Tuskegee Mayor and State Representative Johnny Ford said: “The United States is testing fewer than one percent of our population, and Alabama is testing at an even lower rate. Alabama is also testing at the lowest rate in Black and other Minority communities.
In fact, the Alabama Department of Public Health has only held one day of very limited testing in two Black Belt counties Bullock County on April 3rd and Lowndes County on April 7th – out of 18 Alabama Black Belt counties. ADPH limited testing to people (1) who are symptomatic with either a fever, cough or shortness of breath and (2) who also are immune-compromised or have comorbidity, 65 years or older, a healthcare worker or associated with a long-term healthcare facility. That was it for the Black Belt. That must change NOW.”
SOS Health Care Committee co-chair and Chair of the Greene County Health System John Zippert said: “The State of Alabama and the federal government must direct resources to the communities where the greater likelihood of death and serious illness exist. This includes testing, medical care, data collection and more. And by testing, we mean mass testing because that is the only way to detect and prevent mass spread of this virus. We cannot get ahead of the virus until we begin mass testing.”
Zippert also said, “Gov. Ivey must immediately expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor, up to 138% of the poverty level, to help insure that more small rural hospitals will be able to remain open in the state to serve people during and after the pandemic. Most rural hospitals in the state are running at a financial deficit because they are serving people who would otherwise be covered by insurance secured through Medicaid expansion.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan added that data from a Pew Charitable Trusts report released yesterday had very disturbing findings, including: “It looks increasingly likely the South will endure more death and economic loss from COVID-19 than any other region in the country – and not just because Southern governors were slow to shut down businesses and order people to stay at home. Southern poverty rates are high, social welfare programs spotty and health care infrastructure threadbare.
Last year, 120 rural U.S. hospitals closed their doors; 75 of them were in the South. And emerging data from some cities and states shows that Black people – more than half of whom live in the South – are contracting and dying from the virus at a disproportionately high rate.”
For more information on the work of the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, visit http://www.saveourselvesmovement@gmail.com.

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

Press Conference at Statue.jpg

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.”