Has Trump helped Black America in his first 100 days?

An Analysis by NBC News – Michael Cottman

“Today and every day of my presidency I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African-Americans and for every American…We’re going to bring this country together.”- President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump has offered grand gestures, questionable policies, and a litany of promises to skeptical African Americans.
He promised to rid inner cities of crime. He promised to invest in education for black public school students and historically black colleges. He promised to rebuild boarded-up urban neighborhoods. He promised to heal a racially polarized America.
When Trump toured The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. last month, he pledged to confront racism and create a bridge of unity for what he called a “divided country.”
But 100 days into Trump’s chaotic presidency, there are few signs – at least publicly – that Trump is focused on racial healing or any of the pre-election commitments to the nation’s citizens of color.
“President Trump’s promises to African-Americans were nothing more than vapid campaign promises,” Neil Foote, a journalism professor at North Texas University and Editor of PoliticsInColor.com, told NBCBLK.
Consider Trump’s position on criminal justice: Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to stall a federal review of police departments where racial profiling, excessive use of force and racially discriminatory police practices have been exposed.
During the Obama Administration, the Justice Department began 25 investigations into police departments and sheriff’s offices and resolved civil rights lawsuits filed against police departments in more than 15 cities.
Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said Sessions has a legal obligation to investigate troubled police departments. “He can’t just cherry pick the cases he wants to investigate,” Ifill told NBCBLK.
Ifill said the Trump administration threatens progress to criminal justice reform, education, health care and a myriad of social programs that are on Trump’s chopping block.
“Our first priority is voting rights,” Ifill said. “Voting ensures that African Americans fully participate in the political process—and not just during presidential elections.”
But Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for America First, a conservative organization that supports Trump’s legislative agenda urged black folks to give Trump a chance.
Pierson said Trump will help improve the quality of life for African Americans through education, jobs, health care – and building the border wall to crack down on crime, drugs and human trafficking.
“Illegal immigration impacts the black community,” Pierson said. “When illegal immigrants settle in the United States, they don’t settle in gated communities, they settle in black communities and poor communities. You can’t have an honest discussion about illegal immigration without talking about the cost of illegal immigration, financially, socially and culturally.”
Civil rights organizations take issue with Pierson and her conservative views. They believe Trump’s policies are detrimental to the prosperity of African Americans and they are distrustful of black conservatives.
Marc Morial, president of The National Urban League, said Trump wants to cut social programs that benefit black Americans instead of making good on his campaign promise to rebuild urban communities.
“We will resist any effort to cut funding for human programs,” Morial told NBCBLK. “This is not good public policy to gut these programs and shift funding to the military. We will resist cuts to community development programs, housing programs, workforce programs. These are job killers and dream killers.”
Morial said he believes there is a great opportunity to create a bipartisan jobs initiative. “People – blacks, whites, Latinos – are all dealing with wage stagnation and a jobs initiative could unite America,” he said. “It’s a challenge for urban America. It’s a challenge for rural America.”
This week the Congressional Black Caucus released a report, What Did Trump Do? The First 100 Days #StayWoke List, to make sure African Americans stay informed about the Trump administration policies that impact citizens of color.

“In general, “stay woke” or “stay awake” means to stay focused on what is really being said and done to and around you, especially as it relates to police brutality and other elements of African-Americans’ years-long struggle to fully achieve the American Dream,” Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, said in the report.
Highlights from the CBC report pull out key budget cuts that would:
· “… cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget by $6 billion. HUD is responsible for providing housing assistance to extremely low-income families and the homeless, and reinvesting in America’s cities and counties.”
· “… eliminate programs that help limit children’s exposure to lead paint. According to the CDC, African-American children are three times more likely to have elevated blood-lead levels.”
· “… eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency, which funds a nationwide network of business centers to help minority-owned business stay competitive and create jobs.”
The Congressional Black Caucus has also underscored how racially polarized America has become since Trump won the White House. While Trump promises a new order for black America, hate groups have risen across the nation. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported that more than 400 incidents of harassment or intimidation against blacks, Jews, gays and Muslims occurred in the early days of Trump’s presidency.
Many civil rights activists are also concerned about Trump’s attempts to roll back education initiatives designed to assist students of color. Trump has pledged to make education a priority for black Americans but Besty DeVos, his Secretary of Education, has been criticized for her steadfast support for privatizing public schools.
Two weeks ago, DeVos further angered educators and parents by appointing Candice Jackson as the acting head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights. Jackson, as a student at Stanford University, once complained of racial discrimination because she is white. She said affirmative action promotes racial discrimination.
Critics of the Trump administration question how Jackson can objectively oversee claims of racial discrimination from African Americans and other people of color.
Tracey Winbush, the Ohio Republican Party Treasurer, said DeVos is simply trying to fix underperforming schools – many of them, she said, are located in low-income black communities. She said most African Americans are being overly critical of the president instead of trying to work with him.
“President Trump is doing his best to reach out to all people and especially African Americans,” Winbush, who is African American, told NBCBLK. “The president is making good on his campaign promise to move the African American community forward and get the black community out of its present situation.”
Winbush said too many African Americans “are hating on Trump because he’s a billionaire.” “As an African American Republican, I don’t mind that Trump is a billionaire and his cabinet is the wealthiest cabinet in history, they know how to make money and we can learn from them,” Winbush said. “We have been taught to hate success. Trump is trying to reach out to African Americans but they don’t want to talk to him. We’re losing political clout. Are we moving forward or backward?”
Wilson and other black college presidents met with the new President early in his term. They were hoping that Trump would set aside additional funding for historically black colleges. Instead of a substantive meeting, some said, black college presidents were lured into the Oval Office for a hastily arranged photo-op with Trump.
“Showing up and sitting at the table doesn’t always mean you get what you want,” Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorofChange.org, told NBCBLK. “Every invitation isn’t necessarily an invitation that you want.”
“There is a deep threat to civil rights policies and we have to respond differently,” Robinson said. “These folks are dismantling the ideals of American democracy. We can’t wait for meetings at the White House.”
Trump, who received eight percent of the black vote during the presidential election, has tried to convince black Americans that he is a champion for their concerns. [Trump fared a bit better than Mitt Romney, who only garnered six percent of the black vote when he ran for president in 2012.]
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Trump signs Executive Order reversing Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ and putting climate change goals in jeopardy

By: Associated Press

Power Plant Pollution
Power Plant Pollution

Declaring “the start of a new era” in energy production, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that he said would revive the coal industry and create jobs.
The move makes good on his campaign pledge to unravel former President Barack Obama’s plan to curb global warming. The order seeks to suspend, rescind or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production in the form of fossil fuels.
Environmental activists, including former Vice President Al Gore, denounced the plan. But Trump said the effort would allow workers to “succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time.”
“That is what this is all about: bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making America wealthy again,” Trump said, during a ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, attended by a number of coal miners.
The order initiates a review of the Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The regulation, which was the former president’s signature effort to curb carbon emissions, has been the subject of long-running legal challenges by Republican-led states and those who profit from burning oil, coal and gas.
But just as Obama’s climate efforts were often stymied by legal challenges, environmental groups are promising to fight Trump’s pro-fossil fuel agenda in court.
Trump has called global warming a “hoax” invented by the Chinese, and has repeatedly criticized the power-plant rule as an attack on American workers and the struggling U.S. coal industry.
In addition to pulling back from the Clean Power Plan, the administration will also lift a 14-month-old moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands.
The Obama administration had imposed a three-year moratorium on new federal coal leases in January 2016, arguing that the $1 billion-a-year program must be modernized to ensure a fair financial return to taxpayers and address climate change.
Trump accused his predecessor of waging a “war on coal” and boasted in a speech to Congress that he has made “a historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations,” including some that threaten “the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.”
The order will also chip away at other regulations, including scrapping language on the “social cost” of greenhouse gases. It will initiate a review of efforts to reduce the emission of methane in oil and natural gas production as well as a Bureau of Land Management hydraulic fracturing rule, to determine whether those reflect the president’s policy priorities.
It will also rescind Obama-era executive orders and memoranda, including one that addressed climate change and national security and one that sought to prepare the country for the impacts of climate change.
The administration is still in discussion about whether it intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Trump’s order could make it more difficult, though not impossible, for the U.S. to achieve its carbon reduction goals. The president’s promises to boost coal jobs run counter to market forces, such as U.S. utilities converting coal-fired power plants to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency chief, Scott Pruitt, alarmed environmental groups and scientists earlier this month when he said he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. The statement is at odds with mainstream scientific consensus and Pruitt’s own agency.
The overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies and climate scientists agree the planet is warming, mostly due to man-made sources, including carbon dioxide, methane, halocarbons and nitrogen oxide.
Opponents say Obama’s effort would have killed coal-mining jobs and driven up electricity costs. The Obama administration, some Democratic-led states and environmental groups counter that it would spur thousands of clean-energy jobs and help the U.S. meet ambitious goals to reduce carbon pollution set by the international agreement signed in Paris.
Trump’s order on coal-fired power plants follows an executive order he signed last month mandating a review of an Obama-era rule aimed at protecting small streams and wetlands from development and pollution. The order instructs the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to review a rule that redefined “waters of the United States” protected under the Clean Water Act to include smaller creeks and wetlands.
While Republicans have blamed Obama-era environmental regulations for the loss of coal jobs, federal data shows that U.S. mines have been shedding jobs for decades under presidents from both parties as a result of increasing automation and competition from natural gas, which has become more abundant through hydraulic fracturing. Another factor is the plummeting cost of solar panels and wind turbines, which now can produce emissions-free electricity cheaper than burning coal.
According to an Energy Department analysis released in January, coal mining now accounts for fewer than 75,000 U.S. jobs. By contrast, renewable energy — including wind, solar and biofuels — now accounts for more than 650,000 U.S. jobs.
The Trump administration’s plans drew praise from business groups and condemnation from environmental groups.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue praised the president for taking “bold steps to make regulatory relief and energy security a top priority.” “These executive actions are a welcome departure from the previous administration’s strategy of making energy more expensive through costly, job-killing regulations that choked our economy,” he said.
Former Vice President Al Gore blasted the order as “a misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future for ourselves and generations to come.”
“It is essential, not only to our planet, but also to our economic future, that the United States continues to serve as a global leader in solving the climate crisis by transitioning to clean energy, a transition that will continue to gain speed due to the increasing competiveness of solar and wind,” he said in a statement.

Under Trump, unemployment rate rises for Black workers

By Freddie Allen (Managing Editor, NNPA Newswire)

blackmanjobless
 Black man who has lost his job
During President Donald Trump’s first full month in office, the Black unemployment rate rose as the White unemployment rate fell, according to the latest jobs report.
Key employment indicators show that Black workers lost ground in February. The unemployment rate for Black workers increased from 7.7 percent in January to 8.1 percent in February. The labor force participation rate, which is the share of the population that is employed or looking for work, ticked down from 62.4 percent to 62.3 percent in February. The employment-population ratio, which is the share of the population that has jobs, also declined for Black workers from 57.5 percent to 57.3 percent in February.
Meanwhile, the White unemployment rate inched closer to 4 percent, decreasing from 4.3 percent in January to 4.1 percent in February. The labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio for White workers also improved.
The jobless rate for White men 20 years-old and over dipped below 4 percent in February (3.8 percent). Even though the labor force participation rate for White men slipped from 72.1 percent to 72 percent, the employment-population ratio for White men increased from 69.2 percent in January to 69.3 percent last month.
The unemployment rate for White women 20 years-old and over decreased from 3.9 percent in January to 3.7 percent in February. The labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio for White women also showed gains in February, which indicates that White women were able to join the labor market and find work at higher rates last month compared to January.
Black men fared worse than other adult groups in the job market last month. The unemployment rate for Black men over 20 years-old increased from 7.3 percent in January to 7.8 percent in February. The labor force participation rate slipped from 68.1 percent in January to 67.8 percent in February. The employment-population ratio also declined, falling from 63.1 percent to 62.5 percent in February, the biggest decline for any adult group that month.
Not only did the unemployment rate for both Black men and women 20 years-old and over move in the opposite direction to their White counterparts, the share of Black men and women that looked for jobs and found work decreased from January to February.
Before his inauguration in January, President Donald Trump often questioned the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, but when the latest report was released on March 10, White House officials expressed their enthusiasm about the results.
During the press briefing after February’s jobs report was released, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if President Trump believed that February’s jobs report was accurate. Spicer answered, “[President Trump] said to quote him very clearly, ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”Laughter was heard audibly in the White House Press Briefing Room.
Even as the White House appeared to be claiming another victory on the jobs front, Ben White, the chief economic correspondent for POLITICO and a CNBC contributor noted that February’s big jobs number was very similar to 2016 and 2015. “Hard to see any Trump bump in these numbers. Nearly identical to last two Febs. Feb. 2015: 238K Feb 2016: 237K Feb. 2017: 235K,” White tweeted. Others said that February’s jobs report was just a continuation of President Obama’s policies.
In a statement about the latest jobs report, Michael Madowitz, an economist for the Center for American Progress, said that the current Labor market trends originating in the Obama years continued this month, with 235,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate decreasing slightly to 4.7 percent.
“Since the employment recovery began in February 2010, we’ve added nearly 16 million jobs, and the steady tightening of the labor market has finally started to deliver wage growth for workers, increasing 2.8 percent over the past year,” Madowitz said in the statement. “These statistics show that the economy has continued to build on the foundation and success of the past few years and tell the story of the economy far more accurately than the Trump administration’s focus on the 30 large companies in the Dow.”
Madowitz continued: “In his first 49 days in office, President Donald Trump has discussed loosening oversight in financial markets, which may force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to prevent financial bubbles. Rolling back protections, updating overtime standards, and endangering Americans’ retirement savings have delighted Trump’s Wall Street and corporate base but are cold comfort for the American worker.”
In a statement about the February’s jobs report, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said that President Trump inherited a growing economy from his predecessor. “President Trump claimed he was handed ‘a mess’ by the Obama Administration, but we know that is not accurate,” said Scott. “Under President Obama the unemployment rate was cut in half while GDP and median income rose.”
Scott quickly pivoted to the embattled Affordable Care Act (ACA), adding that the Republican bill to repeal and replace the ACA would cause millions to lose their insurance, force families to pay more for fewer protections, defund Planned Parenthood, and give huge tax cuts to people in the top 1 percent.
Scott concluded: “[The Republicans] have gambled with families’ health care as they continue to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the insurance Marketplaces. They have put forward policy ideas that would weaken consumer protections and increase costs for families under ‘Trumpcare.’ Working families deserve better. Congressional Republicans and President Trump must change their course and actually begin working on solutions to build an economy that benefits all of America’s working families.”

Ben Carson sworn-in as Trump’s only Black cabinet pick

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Contributor
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Dr. Ben Carson (left) was sworn in as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday, March 2. Carson’s wife along with his 5-year-old granddaughter, Tesora held the Bible. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

The swearing-in of all the primary members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet is just about complete.

Most of Trump’s cabinet—from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross—are rich, White and male.

On Thursday, March 2, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson broke the mold with his swearing-in as Housing and Urban Development secretary, officially becoming the only African-American in Trump’s cabinet.

The former GOP presidential candidate was confirmed by a 58-41 vote, leaving just four of Trump’s 22 cabinet-level nominees still unsworn.

“Right now, our country is the patient and it’s not a Democrat or a Republican patient..It’s an American patient,” Carson said at his swearing-in as his wife, Lacena and granddaughter Tesora held the Bible. “We have a duty to use the gifts that God has given all of us in order to heal that patient.”

Carson, 65, was born into an impoverished Detroit family, but ultimately became a popular neurosurgeon who ran for president last year winning the

In January, he vowed to begin his job at HUD by going on a listening tour before developing any long-term plans for the department, which has more than 8,000 employees and a $50 billion budget.

In February, during Black History Month, Carson joined Trump for a tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture where the president said Carson would work very closely with him.

“HUD has a meaning far beyond housing,” Trump said. “If properly done, it’s a meaning that’s as big as anything there is.”

Carson, whose mother at times received food stamps to provide for her family, grew up surrounded by some of the housing assistance programs he will now oversee.

“The New York Times” reported that, rather than embrace the programs that once sustained his family and the families around him, Carson adopted standard Republican beliefs that too much government help—both in desegregating neighborhoods and in lifting people from poverty—can discourage people from working hard.

Carson recently had to correct statements which he made that suggested Black people who were brought involuntarily to be enslaved were equated with other immigrants seeking opportunity.

Carson was awarded a scholarship to Yale University, and at 33, he was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. He later became an author and a philanthropist supporting scholarships for young, often impoverished students.

“Housing discrimination continues to be a significant problem in this country, unfairly limiting people’s choices about where to live,” Lisa Rice, executive vice president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, said in a statement. “We look to Secretary Carson to marshal the resources of the department he leads to combat this problem, and to fight all forms of housing discrimination.”

The Women’s March organizers are planning ‘A Day Without A Woman’ strike

By: Desire Thompson, VIBE
womens-march-leader
Womens March leader

The minds behind the Women’s March on Washington aren’t giving up on the people. Their latest move hints at an economic boycott titled, “A Day Without A Woman.”
The announcement was made Monday (Feb. 6) through their social channels with little detail. What has been shared is the general statement, “The will of the people will stand.” Last month, over a million women from all over the world came together in solidarity to protest the election of President Donald Trump, climate change, immigration laws and unlawful police practice. The Women’s March on Washington brought 500,000 people to the city, making it the most recent largest demonstration in the area. Crowd specialists reportedly stated the Women’s March brought three times the number of people than Trump’s inauguration ceremony.
CNN reports after the exposure of several companies lining up with Trump, the organization made up of Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland, released a statement on those boycotting companies like Uber and Nordstrom. “At a time when our foundational principles of freedom and equality are under threat, The Women’s March is committed to engaging in actions that affirmatively build community, strengthen relationships and support local, women- and minority-owned businesses,” The Women’s March said in a statement.
General strikes thrived during the Civil Rights Movement and other labor movements. Strike4Democracy is currently planning a general strike on Feb. 17. So far, 16,000 people plan to take part in it. Last year, actor Isiah Washington attempted to launch a boycott where African Americans didn’t spend, work or attend school. Middle-class African Americans have been known to spend a hefty amount in a retail market, even with specks of racial inequality proving that black families have less access to substantial goods and services than white families. Nonetheless, the Women’s March organizers have stressed the importance of inclusion.

African Union blasts Trump rule barring African muslim immigrants

african-union-leader

Outgoing Commissioner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of the African Union

   Jan. 30, 2017 (GIN) – An outraged African Union recalled the kidnapping of Black Africans as it considered the controversial new US anti-immigrant rules. After forcibly bringing Africans to the U.S. as slave labor, noted the AU, Washington now slams the door on Muslim immigrants entering the U.S.

“It is clear that globally we are entering very difficult times,” cautioned outgoing AU Commissioner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, speaking at a recent two-day summit in Addis Ababa of the 53 member states.

“The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries.”

Just before the weekend, President Donald Trump suspended all US refugee programs and banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, three of which are AU members.

The executive order signed by Mr. Trump specifically bars Libyans, Somalians and Sudanese from travelling to the US. It also blocks visas for citizens from four Middle Eastern countries – Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.

All US refugee programs are frozen for 120 days, and the flow of Syrian refugees to America is ended indefinitely.

The new UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, speaking at the AU’s summit in Ethiopia, commended African countries for opening their borders to refugees and people fleeing violence while in other parts of the world, including the developed West, they are closing borders and building walls.

He praised African nations for being among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees.

AU Summit proceedings began with the swift election of Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, 56, as the new chairperson of the AU Commission, beating four other candidates.

Faki won in a final battle against his Kenyan counterpart Amina Mohamed after seven rounds of voting. The Kenyan government praised Ms. Mohamed, once the odds-on favorite, for waging a “valiant race”.  Faki takes on the role as his country’s President Idriss Deby Itno hands over the rotating presidency of the AU to Guinea’s Alpha Conde.

A former prime minister, Faki has been at the forefront of the fight against Islamists in Nigeria, Mali and the Sahel and has promised “development and security” will top his agenda as chief of the 54-member continental bloc.     Faki said he dreams of an Africa where the “sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories” and pledged to streamline the bureaucratic AU during his four-year term in office.

 

Questions remain on Jeff Sessions’ role in prosecuting Michael Donald’s Klan lynching in Mobile in the 1980’s

L to R: Michael Donald and Jeff Sessions

News Analysis by: Zack Carter and John Zippert

President Donald Trump has nominated his early supporter, Alabama U. S. Senator, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, for the position of Attorney General of the United States.
Questions remain about Jeff Sessions position on civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, hate crimes, criminal justice and many other issues that will face Sessions if he his confirmed as the nation’s chief prosecutor and law enforcement official.
The Democrat previously published in our December 28, 2016 issue an extensive statement by the Alabama New South Coalition and the SOS Movement for Justice and Democracy in opposition to Sessions nomination (see http://www.greenecodemocrat). This statement concentrates on Sessions role in the selective and unsuccessful prosecution of the “Marion Three” in 1985/86 as the beginning of a national Republican effort of voter suppression that continues to this day.
We have recently seen paid TV ads advocating the confirmation of Sessions as U. S. Attorney General in which he proclaims himself, “a champion of civil rights and an advocate of criminal justice”.
In this story, we look back at Sessions’ role as U. S. Attorney for the Southern District, based in Mobile, in the notorious case of the Klan lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile from 1981 to 1989.

The lynching of Michael Donald – March 20, 1981

On March 20, 1981, Michael Donald, a 19 yr. old African American trade school student was found hanging from a small ornamental “popcorn” tree on an old residential street, across the street from where several Klansmen lived. Michael’s body was crumpled from beatings and his neck slashed. The brutally slayed young man was hanging hideously about a mile from Mobile’s City Hall and the Courthouse – where a KKK cross had been burned on the lawn the same night. The same courthouse where the recent trial of an African American, Josephus Anderson, ended in a hung jury – he was on trial for killing a white policeman, and claimed it was in self-defense.
Over time, it was established that four Klan members participated in the killing of Michael Donald. They were Bennie Jack Hayes, a local Klan leader, his son Henry Hays (age 22 at the time of the lynching), James Knowles (age 17) and Frank L. Cox (age 25) Hayes son-in-law, who supplied the gun and the rope for the crime.
From the Court records, Knowles confessed to the crime and according to the record:

“… Henry Hays and Knowles got a rope, which they tied into a hangman’s noose, and a gun from fellow Klansmen. [Knowles testified it was Frank Cox]. The two then set out to look for a black man. They randomly found Michael Donald, pulled alongside him in their car, and asked for directions. They forced him into the car at gunpoint. Knowles made Donald empty his pockets; Knowles’s trial testimony indicates he wanted to be sure the victim was unarmed.”
Hays found a desolate area and parked; all three men got out of the car. Facing Hays and Knowles (who was holding the gun), Donald jumped Knowles in an attempt to escape. After a struggle, Hays and Knowles forced Donald to the ground. Hays retrieved the noose, and the two of them put it around Donald’s neck. Hays dragged Donald while Knowles beat him with a tree limb; and when Hays’s hands began to hurt, they switched. When Donald collapsed, the two men dragged him, face first, across the ground. Autopsy reports showed Donald probably died from asphyxiation during this time. Nevertheless, Henry Hays slashed Donald’s throat. Donald’s body was found later that morning, hanging from a tree on Herndon Avenue.” (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-11th-circuit/1304129.html)”

According to testimony by Assistant U. S. Attorney, Thomas Figures, an African-American attorney, who was working in Sessions office, made to the Senate Judiciary Committee in its 1986 hearing on Sessions nomination to become a Federal District Judge, Figures says that Sessions was reluctant to take up the Michael Donald lynching case.
Based on pressure from Michael Donald’s family, their attorney, State Senator Michael Figures (Thomas Figure’s brother), work by FBI investigators and local law enforcement, Sessions changed his mind. Sessions says he then pushed for Henry Hayes and James Knowles to be tried in state courts, where they could receive the death penalty, because at that time there were no provisions for the death penalty in Federal cases.
The testimony of Thomas Figures and four other Assistant U. S. Attorneys was instrumental in causing the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 to refuse to confirm Sessions for a Federal judgeship.
Figures testified to examples of his former boss’s alleged racial insensitivity before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying Sessions had called him a “boy” on several occasions and had once told him that “he believed the NAACP, the SCLC, Operation PUSH, and the National Council of Churches were all un-American organizations teaching anti-American values.” On one occasion, when Figures upbraided Sessions’ secretary over what he felt was an inappropriate personal comment she made to him, he said Sessions had summoned him to his office and admonished him to “be careful what you say to white folks.”
In their investigation of the Michael Donald case, local law enforcement found that the three men Knowles, Hays and Cox were regular users of marijuana. This prompted Sessions classic and often repeated statement, “ I used to respect the Klan, until I found out that many of them smoked pot.” An FBI agent confirmed hearing Session’s remark as well, albeit the FBI agent felt it was ‘just parlor humor’. But we all know that jokes, especially at the expense of others, usually reveal what is in a person’s heart!
In 1983, James Knowles was sentenced by a local Mobile Court to 99 years in state prison; Henry Hays was sentenced to death for murdering Michael Donald. After routine appeals, Henry Hays was the first white person executed in Alabama for murdering a Black person.

What happened to Bennie J. Hays and Frank Cox?
There were four people involved in the Michael Donald lynching. We have accounted for two, what happened to the other two – Cox and Bennie Hays. And what was Jeff Sessions role in their prosecution?
Sessions, who was reluctant to handle the case, turned the prosecutions over to Mobile D. A. Chris Galanos for local action. In 1985, Galanos indicted the two – Bennie Hays and Frank Cox for “conspiracy to commit murder”. When the case went to trial Mobile Circuit Judge Zoghby had to dismiss the case because conspiracy has a three-year statute of limitations and the case was filed after three years had passed. Bennie Hays died during the trial and Cox walked free.
Sessions has never been asked why he didn’t pay closer attention and supervision to the case and allowed the local D. A. Galanos to seek an indictment for conspiracy after the time had expired. Was this action deliberate on Sessions part? Did he allow the indictment on a lesser charge when he knew the statute of limitations had run? Does this call into question his sensitivity and skills as a prosecutor? What will this mean on other critical cases if he is confirmed as Attorney General?
Meanwhile Attorney Michael Figures assisted by the Southern Poverty Law Center brought a civil lawsuit against the Klan on behalf of Michael Donald’s mother. In 1987, they won a million dollar judgment against the United Klans of America and forced them to sell their office in Tuscaloosa with the proceeds going to the Donald family. The civil case also brought out more evidence against the perpetrators.
In 1989, Frank Cox was found guilty of murdering Michael Donald and sentenced to 99 years in state prison. Cox was released after only 11 years in 2000. Knowles was released in 2010 after 25 years in prison. What role did Jeff Sessions play in the early release of Frank Cox, who supplied the gun and the rope for Michael Donald’s lynching, has he ever been asked?
In addition to Jeff Sessions insensitivity on the murder of Michael Donald, we have many other instances where he showed little concern for the conditions of Black and poor people.
Jeff Sessions was the only Gulf Coast Senator to vote against Senator Richard Shelby’s bill for supplementary assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Paul Nelson, a 4th generation fisher from Alabama’s Gulf Coast and commended by a Mobile County’s administrator for for his key role in getting 301 homes rebuilt with Katrina CDBG funds said: “Senator Jeff Sessions did nothing for the people he represents who were devastated by Katrina! So how can he be trusted to represent justice for all in our courtrooms.”

Zack Carter is a community organizer who helped bring national attention to unjust Katrina and BP recovery policies.
He was trade union activist in Mobile during the 1980’s and advocated for Labor to speak out against the Klan lynching of Michael Donald.. John Zippert is Co-Publisher of the Greene County Democrat.