At its regular meeting, held Monday, April 12, 2021, the Greene County Commission selected a new attorney to serve as its legal representative. Attorney Mark Parnell, of Parnell and Thompson of Birmingham, was hired on the vote of three commissioners, Chairperson Roshanda Summerville, Commissioners Cory Cockrell and Allen Turner, Jr. At the opening of the commission’s meeting, before the printed agenda was voted on, Commissioner Corey Cockrell stated he had two items to add to the agenda: Building storm shelters with bingo funds; and Hiring an Attorney. The item on hiring an attorney had not been discussed at the previous work session. The agenda was adopted with the additions. Following a lengthly executive session, the commission acted on the original items on the agenda and approved the added item concerning building storm shelters with bingo funds. No additional information was presented regarding the storm shelters. The final item on the agenda related to hiring an attorney. Chairperson Summerville called for a vote on Candidate 1 (the candidate’s name was not stated). Commissioner Cockrell offered a motion to approved Candidate 1; Turner seconded the motion and Summerville voted with Cockrell and Turner. The chair declared that Candidate 1 was selected, then called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Two other candidates the commission had considered, Attorney Hank Sanders and Attorney Prince Chestnut, were not presented for a vote. Reportedly, the Commission Chairperson selected a committee to interview applicants for the attorney’s position. Seemingly, this committee was composed of Chairperson Summerville, Commissioner Cockrell, and staff Brenda Burke. Burke later acknowledge that the extent of her role was to prepare the advertisements and set up the interviews for Mark Parnell and Prince Chestnut. CFO Macaroy Underwood was invited to sit in when the applicants were interviewed. Senator Hank Sanders stated that he did submit an application but did not receive a notice regarding an interview. According to Sanders, following the commission’s work session on Wednesday, April 7, he was asked to come to the commission’s office to discuss a financial matter with Underwood, Summerville and Cockrell. Sanders said that at the close of that meeting, Commissioner Cockrell asked him to discuss his “strong points.” At no point during the commission’s meeting or immediately following the meeting, did the commission offer any additional information to the public regarding the change in attorneys. When Chairperson Summerville was asked, following Monday’s meeting, who was Candidate 1, she deferred to Ms. Brenda Burke, who responded that she did not know. Burke indicated she had nothing to do with this. Commissioner Turner was asked who was Candidate 1, and he referred this to the Chairperson. Ms. Summerville was cautioned that this was public information and she had an obligation to tell the community who had just been hired as the Commission’s attorney. At that point, Ms. Summerville revealed the name of Attorney Mark Parnell. In separate follow-up discussions with Commissioners Smith, Brown and Turner, all three emphatically stated that they did not know Attorney Parnell, had never met him or spoken with him. Smith and Brown did not vote to hire Parnell, but Turner did. In later attempts to seek further comments from the Commission Chairperson, she only replied with no comment, and with the statement, “You must ask this of the whole commission.” In its September, 14, 2020 meeting, the Greene County Commission, through an added on agenda item, agreed to advertise for an attorney. At that time Commission Chairperson Allen Turner, Jr. stated that the current attorney, Senator Hank Sanders, was serving without a contract. He stated the contract had expired. At that same meeting, Commissioner Lester Brown offered a motion to provide a contract for the attorney and this was adopted. Brown stated at that time that his motion was intended to replace the agenda item to advertise for an attorney. Chairman Turner disagreed. Nothing else was made known about an attorney’s search until the April 12, 2021 commission meeting. At press time, Brenda Burke submitted the following statement: After completing the process, the Greene County Commission hired Parnell and Thompson as legal counsel. Chairman Summerville stated: “Our decision is in the best interest of Greene County and the residents we serve. We would like to thank Attorney Sanders for his years of service.” Other Business of the Commission The Commission acted on the following items: Adopted the Division C Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. *Approved $15,000 for new control panel for jail lights from Capital Improvement. *Ratified $6,412 for new computer for Probate Judge’s Office from Capital Improvement. *Approved Amended lease agreement for the Greene County Sheriff Department. *Adopted the resolution regarding the Citizen Participation Plan (CDBG Grant). Adopted the resolution for Fair Housing (CDBG Grant) *Adopted resolutions regarding Standards of Conduct, Procurement Methods, Minimizing Displacement and Section 504 Transition Plan (CDBG Grant). *Authorize the Engineer to order three dump trucks and bodies, totaling $462,603. *Approved proposal from JM Wood Auction for the sale of existing dump trucks in June with a guarantee net of $457,560 and declare trucks as surplus. *Approved proposal from Jackson Security for camera surveillance equipment in area near old shop at cost of $13,313.75. *Approved proposal from Premier Electric to provide power for surveillance equipment in area near old shop at cost of $2,140. *Approved bid from ST Bunn for resurfacing and striping of CR 133 from 131 to the interstate 20/59 for cost of $268,526. *Approved proposal for Dynamic Civil Solution, Inc. for Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study for Miller Road, for 2020 FEMA Storm Event at cost of $11,250. *Approved proposal for Dynamic Civil Solution, Inc. for Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study for CR 97 for 2020 FEM A Storm Event at cost of $11,250. *Approved Brandy Eubanks as District 3 PARA Board Member. *Approved Gavin Edgars as District 2 E 9-11 Board Member. *Approved financial report and payment of claims as presented by CFO, Mac Underwood. Underwood reported the following claims paid in March 2021: Accounts Payable – $267,120.14; Payroll Transfer – $230.052.50; Fiduciary – $195,910.29 totaling $693,082.93. Electronic claims paid totaled $75,093.69. Underwood reported the following bank totals; Citizen Trust Bank – $4,486,650; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $3,551,307.69; Bond Sinking Funds – $1,085,793; Bank of New York – $715,920.40.
Thursday, November 1, 2018 is the last date to apply for an Absentee Ballot in the upcoming November 6 General Election. You must apply by mail (alabamavotes.gov) or in person at the Circuit Clerk’s office to receive an Absentee Ballot. The Absentee Ballot must be returned in person or postmarked by November 5, 2018, the day before Election Day on November 6, 2018. If you know you will not be able to get to vote on November 6, 2018, you can walk into the Circuit Clerk’s office and vote absentee until November 1st. As of Tuesday, October 23, there have been 176 applications for absentee ballots in the coming election according to Mattie Atkins, Circuit Clerk and Absentee Elections manager. “ I expect we will have over 200 absentee ballots cast by the deadline. This is in line with our voting history over the past few elections in Greene County,” said Atkins. “There is no reason why everyone should not vote,” said Lorenzo French, Chair of the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee. “If you are registered in Greene County, but live away, or are attending school, or are sick and homebound, or work on a job which will not let you get back home in time to vote, you still have time to apply for and vote absentee,” said French. There are 7,090 people registered and qualified to vote in the November 6 election according to the Greene County Board of Registrars. In recent elections, 3,500 voters or around 50% turned out to vote, while Greene County had among the highest percentage turnouts in the state, we were far from a record-breaking performance. “This is a critical election in Alabama, all of the major offices in state government in Montgomery including Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, four Supreme court Justices, every state Senator and Representative in the Legislature, all of our Congress-persons and many local officials will be on the ballot,” said Senator Hank Sanders of Alabama. “We need the highest turnout that we can get. Every voter must be concerned and motivated to vote. During the Civil Rights Movement, people died and were beaten for working for the right to vote,” said Spiver W. Gordon, veteran activist. Among the five major reasons people gave for not voting and the responses follow.
• MY VOTE DOESN’T MATTER. Not true. “One vote can make a difference,” says Common Cause, a grassroots organization whose mission is upholding the core values of American democracy. “Many voters, together deciding they will make a difference, can change an election.” The group notes that some local, state and presidential elections have been decided by only “a handful of votes.” Your vote is important for influencing public policy decisions. According to the 2015 report “Why Voting Matters,” voting “plays a significant role in the distribution of government resources as well as the size of government and who benefits from public policies.” The lower voter turnout of young, poor, minority or otherwise marginalized groups has a definite impact on how they’re represented in government.
• I DON’T LIKE THE CANDIDATES AND HATE THE “LESSER OF TWO EVILS” STRATEGY. If you really didn’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump — they were the most unpopular presidential candidates in recent history — you could’ve instead voted for a third party, independent or write-in candidate. It’s important to also vote for the other candidates on your ballot, including those running for Congress and your state legislature. As noted above, your vote truly will influence these lawmakers.As for the lesser of two evils strategy, you should consider what’s at stake in this election — including important issues like gun control, climate change, affordable health care and much more — and vote to support what you believe in.
• IT’S TOO RAINY/SNOWY/HOT/COLD OUTSIDE. Studies have found that Republicans usually win on rainy Election Days. “The traditional Democratic base tends to include lower-income people and the elderly,” explains Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University. “Both of those demographic groups have a hard time getting to the polls.” One way of avoiding having to venture out in inclement weather on Election Day is to apply for an absentee ballot. You can mail in your completed ballot.
•IT TAKES TOO LONG. I HATE WAITING IN LINE. Voting takes less than 14 minutes on average, yet it can affect the next four or more years. To save time at your polling place, complete and bring your sample ballot with you. If possible, go when it’s not too busy — which is usually in the middle of either the morning or afternoon. Avoid going early in the morning or in the early evening, which are usually the busiest times.
•I DON’T KNOW IF I’M REGISTERED. You can check online to see if you’re registered to vote at your current address. Go to a website like Vote.org and select your state to get started.
Toure Remains in Jail Protesting the Unjust and Illegal Actions of the City of Selma Against Her and Other Selma Residents
Editors Note: We are printing this press release as it was received from Senator Hank Sanders concerning the unjust arrest of his wife, and the unjustifiable $2,000 cash bond imposed by the City of Selma for her release. We are also pleased to report that Jimmy Nunn, Black candidate for Probate Judge of Dallas County, was successful in winning the Democratic nomination in yesterday’s runoff election by a vote of 6,305 to 4,635 for his opponent Nicolas D. Switzer.
Statement of Senator Hank Sanders, Toure’s Attorney and Husband
Montgomery, AL –Several weeks ago, someone called our law office multiple times and threatened to kill Faya Rose Toure. The same person also called the Z105.3 FM radio station and threatened to kill Faya Rose. Complaints were made to Selma’s Chief of Police, and Faya has not heard anything back from the police in dealing with the death threats against her.
But on July 16th, the Selma Police Department had someone follow Faya Rose in an unmarked city vehicle. Prior to this, Faya Rose had complained on multiple occasions to Selma city officials that they were discriminatory in their removal of campaign signs on public right of ways. They were leaving the signs of White candidates on the right of ways while removing the signs of Black candidates placed in the same areas. Toure told them that if they continued to discriminate in enforcement of the law, she would then remove the signs left on public right of ways. The City of Selma has an ordinance that holds that political signs cannot be on public right of ways.
On Monday, July 16th, Faya Rose was driving by Tabernacle Baptist Church with our 11-year-old granddaughter, and there was a sign right in front of the Church on a public right of way. She stopped the car, got out and removed the sign. A Tabernacle Church Deacon thanked her for removing the sign. He said they had objected to the sign’s being there to no avail, but because it was on public right of way they had not removed it.
Tabernacle Baptist Church is a very historic church and was central and critical to the Voting Rights Movement of the 1960s. Tabernacle was the site of the first mass meetings for Voting Rights during the Movement during times when mass meetings meant great risk, including the risk of death, for all involved.
As Faya Rose left Tabernacle, someone in an unmarked vehicle began to follow her, and, when he turned on flashing lights, Toure decided not to stop until she was in a location where other people were. When she stopped, she was in front of the campaign office of the African American candidate for probate judge, Jimmy Nunn, who is now Probate Judge-elect for Dallas County.
Because she had ensured that the “Vote or Die” campaign was in no way affiliated with any individual’s campaign, Faya decided to move her car and circled the block to an area where more people were. She pulled into a parking spot at the corner of Selma Avenue and Broad Street. Eventually, nine or so policemen came in masse to arrest her, one 73-year-old Black woman.
Because she had our 11-year-old granddaughter with her, she asked them if she could call someone to come and pick her up. The police refused, and they left our 11-year-old granddaughter alone downtown with people she did not know. Faya also told the police that her wrist had been broken and was still painful, so she asked them to put the handcuffs on in front of her instead of behind her so her injury would not be aggravated. Instead, they went ahead and put the handcuffs on behind her back and then forcefully tightened them.
The police report states she was arrested for shoplifting in the fourth degree for removing a sign illegally placed on a public right of way in front of Tabernacle Baptist Church. When I learned of her arrest, I went the site of her arrest and got our granddaughter, who was crying, and comforted her and made sure she was safe. Our car was still there, so I asked the police if I could move it to our law office. They said it was evidence and refused to allow me to move it. However, they did not take it to the police station but had a tow truck come to move it to a tow yard, where one of my daughters immediately went and paid $150 to get it.
I then went to the city jail to see Faya Rose as her attorney as well as her husband. The police refused to allow me to see her or talk to her. The police asked me several times if I was going to make the $2,000 cash bond for her. I told them: “I don’t know. You will not let me meet with her.”
Later, she briefly appeared and asked me to go find the witnesses at Tabernacle Baptist Church who had thanked her for removing the sign. The police subsequently moved her to the Dallas County Jail, where she has spent the last two nights and where she remains right now. She has refused to post an unjust $2,000 cash bond for an unjust and illegal arrest. She was and is protesting her own situation as well as the unconstitutional, much more outrageous bond conditions that others in Selma and Dallas County have endured for years. She also was and is protesting the fact the police prohibited her from calling anyone to take care of her 11-year-old child whom the police just left on the street corner.
All of this reminds me of the arrest of the Selma City Councilman, who has disagreed with the Mayor on various occasions, for allegedly urinating in the street, which he has denied. There is a pattern of the city police department targeting individuals. Faya Rose’s arrest was not an isolated incident. I also believe the timing of it – the day before the Run-off Election for the Democratic Primary – was not coincidental. Throughout this election the city has selectively enforced its laws regarding political signs against Black candidates while ignoring them as to White candidates. Moreover, the City has the manpower to send nine or so policemen to arrest one 73-year-old Black woman while murders go unsolved and while death threats are completely ignored.
I saw Faya Rose this morning, and she was encouraged by Jimmy Nunn’s election and the support she has received from so many people. She remains in jail protesting the unjust and illegal practices done to her and to many others by the City of Selma. Faya hopes her circumstances will bring attention and change to the injustices that have been ongoing in the city.
Shown L to R: Mrs. Elzora Fluker, Mrs. Leola Carter, Mrs. Elberta Miles and Elder Spiver Gordon; Shown L to R: Rev. John Kennard, Rev Carlos Thornton, Rev. James Carter, Joseph Siegelman, Lorenzo French, Ruby Cain, Elder Spiver Gordon and former Governor Don Siegelman; Elder Spiver Gordon gives Certificate of Appreciation to Rev. Carlos Thornton
Sunday, April 8, 2018 a commemoration program was held at Mt. Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church in Tishabee, AL where Rev. Carlos Thornton serves as church pastor. The program, sponsored by the Alabama Civil Rights Museum, honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the Foot Soldiers of Greene County who worked in the Civil Rights Movement.
The theme for the event, Recognizing, Observing and Remembering featured the observance of local Civil Rights leaders of Greene County from the Tishabee and Forkland communities. Elder Spiver Gordon, the President of the Alabama Civil Right Museum, presented local Foot Soldiers with certificates of recognition for their contributions in paving the way to ensure a better future.
The honorees included Rev. Marshall Anthony, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Hines, Mr. Jonah Smothers, Mr. George Perry, Mr. Ed Carter, Rev. W.D. Lewis, Mrs. Eliza Carter, Mrs. Mary Eliza French, Mr. Vassie Knott, Elberta Miles Mr. and Mrs. Willie C. Carter and many more. Family members were present to accept on behalf of their deceased family member.
Gordon stated, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a predominant leader in the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation and discrimination in America during the 1950s and 1960s and a leading spokesperson for nonviolent methods of achieving social change. The local Foot Soldiers followed the philosophy of Dr. King.”
On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated on the balcony outside his Memphis, Tennessee, hotel room. In a posthumously published essay titled “A Testament of Hope,” King urged African Americans to continue their commitment to nonviolence, but also cautioned that “justice for Black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”
During the 1963 March on Washington, King declared that all people should be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Gordon noted that these principles guided the Foot Soldiers of Tishabee and Forkland who sacrificed and took risks to bring about change. During the 1963 March on Washington, King declared that all people should be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The King Center in Atlanta is a living memorial to King’s vision of a free and equal world dedicated to expanding opportunity, fighting racism and ending all forms of discrimination.
Local candidate in the 2018 June Primary and November General Elections were invited to come to meet and greet the community. For Probate Judge: Rev. John Kennard and Rev. James Carter were present; Circuit Clerk candidate Veronica Morton-Jones was present; Commission Candidate, District 4, John Vester was present and Commission Candidate, District 3, Elzora C. Fluker was present. In the Sheriff’s race Lorenzo French and Beverly Spencer were present.
Also in attendance was former Governor Don Siegelman, along with his son Joseph Siegelman, who is a candidate for Attorney General. Both greeted the congregation.
Keynote speaker Senator Hank Sanders delivered greetings via phone. He stated as one of his favorite quotes: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Bro. Lorenzo French recited one of Dr. King’s speeches. Songs were rendered by Rev. Kendrick Howell, Bro. Willie Mack and Donald Young.
Youth involvement panel at ANSC Convention includes William Scott, Moderator and panelists (l to R) Jasmine Walker, Jamia Jackson, Terri Wiggins and Azali Fortier
The Alabama New South Coalition met for its Fall Convention at the Montgomery Windcreek Casino on Saturday, November 2, 2017. The convention was well attended with over 200 delegates from twenty active chapters around the state.
The ANSC Convention was dedicated to creating interest and excitement in the December 12, Special Election for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Jeff Sessions. Democrat Doug Jones is running against Republican Roy Moore in a contest with state and national implications that is five weeks away.
The ANSC Convention featured a panel on youth involvement in politics and voting, a play about counteracting voter apathy, a report from county chapters on activities in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ and luncheon speeches from two 2018 gubernatorial hopefuls – Sue Bell Cobb and Walt Maddox- and introduction of other candidates for next year.
The youth panel spoke about ways to motivate voters 18 to 40 to more actively participate in elections by utilizing social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach out to millennials on issues of concern to them. William Scott, panel moderator said he was working as the webmaster for the Vote Or Die Campaign Facebook account and for members and chapters to mail in reports and photos of activities that they want posted to this Facebook account.
Several ANSC chapters gave short reports on their work in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ across the state.
• Sam Walker from Dallas County reported that they meet once a week on Thursdays and hold rallies holding ‘Vote Or Die’ signs as human billboards at the bridge in Selma and other sites around the city. We ask motorists to honk their horns in support of the campaign.
• Billy Billingsley of Gadsden is using voter lists from several organizations to do phone banking and door to door canvassing.
• Rebecca Marion of Tallapoosa County said her group was busy putting out Vote Or Die signs and canvassing for absentee voters.
• John Harris of Lee County said his chapter was meeting with ministers to help get out the vote. The chapter is also going into the jail, visiting barbershops, and going door-to-door for registration and absentee ballots.
• Esther Brown said her Project Hope death row prisoners were contacting family and friends to urge them to register and vote in this upcoming Special Election.
• Herman Mixon and Beulah Toney of Madison County reported on efforts to register people at community centers and A & M University. They are using social media to reach and motivate high school and college youth.
• Matilda Hamilton of Tallapoosa County had registered 153 new voters through the school system and was participating in rallies together with Lee County.
• Gus Townes reported that Montgomery County was working on voter registration; also focusing on ex-felons and working with churches to reach and register 1,000 new voters before the November 27, 2017 closing date before the Special Election.
• Rev. Hugh Morris from Talladega County said ANSC, ADC, NAACP, fraternities and sororities were working together to canvas, register and turn out voters. Michael Scales, ANSC Talladega County Chapter President said they were working with Talladega College, pastors and others on the campaign.
• Everett Wess of Jefferson County said the ANSC Chapter was partnering with other groups, had participated in the tailgating leading up to the Magic City Classic football game and other community gatherings to register voters and spread the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’.
• Carol P. Zippert reported for Greene County that 50 high school students were registered and assisted with proper photo ID’s. A large community meeting was held to explore community issues like the future of the hospital and healthcare, recreational programs for youth and voting. U. S. Senate Candidate Doug Jones listened to the discussion and made remarks at the end. Greene County is now concentrating on absentee ballots and walk-in early voters for the next four weeks.
• A Macon County representative spoke on involving Tuskegee University Students in doing voter registration and canvassing leading up to the special election.
• Senator Hank Sanders reported that he has cut radio and TV ads promoting the importance of voting that are available to be sent to stations around the state. He said he participated in human billboards in Selma to promote the “Vote Or Die Campaign’.
Faya Rose Toure and a group from Selma and other counties did a role-play skit about voter apathy and reasons people give for not voting and how to counteract those concerns. The play was well received by ANSC members.
At the closing luncheon, ANSC members heard from two Democratic candidates who are planning to run in the June 2018 primary. Sue Bell Cobb, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said she proposes an Alabama lottery to generate funds for childcare, K-12 public education and closing the gap between Pell Grants and the cost of college tuition.
Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa said he was running for Governor, “to build a brighter future for Alabama and make Alabama a better state for everyone.” He highlighted his record of rebuilding Tuscaloosa after the April 2011 tornadoes and making it the ninth fastest growing city in America.
Rev. Will Boyd of Florence announced that he was planning to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Audri Scott Williams indicated that she was running for U. S. House of Representatives for District 2 against incumbent Martha Roby. Everett Wess stated he was running for Jefferson County Probate Judge – Place 1.
Doug Jones speaks with voters
In yesterday’s statewide Democratic primary for the U. S. Senate, Doug Jones won 1,303 votes or 93% of the 1,408 votes cast in Greene County.
Statewide, Jones received 64% of the vote cast, which means that he has won the nomination with out a second primary. Jones can now campaign for the special General Election on December 12, 2017.
Final vote totals are still being compiled.
In the Republican primary, there will be a run-off between Luther Strange, who currently holds the Senate seat and Judge Roy Moore, who has been removed twice from the Alabama Supreme Court for ethics violations. The two Republicans will square off in the run-off election on September 26. Statewide, Moore led with 39% followed by Strange with 32% and Congressman Mo Brooks third with 20%.
In Greene County, there were 272 votes cast in the Republican primary, with Moore receiving 128 (47%) votes, Strange 87 (32%) and Mo Brooks 32 (12%).
Senator Hank Sanders commented, “We are proud of the results of this primary. Doug Jones is the best candidate. He was endorsed by Alabama New South Alliance, ADC, labor unions and civic groups, which helped him to win the Democratic Primary without a runoff. We know he will have an uphill battle to win the seat on December 12, but we are going to work together with him to put together a winning campaign for this important Senate seat.”
Doug Jones a former U.S. Attorney known for the prosecution of convicted killers Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry for the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, has picked up several endorsements from Democratic leaders, including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Rep. Terri Sewell. Last week, Jones also received an endorsement from former Vice President Joe Biden.
“All my life I have been trying to work with folks to make sure people have equal opportunities–they’re treated fairly, they’re treated the same under the law, they be treated with dignity and respect,” Jones said when he arrived to his watch party after learning he had won.
“You know, 15 years ago, I actually went up against the Klan. And we won,” Jones said.
Jones said his campaign is looking forward to the general election set for later this year. “We’re going to have the same message through December that we’ve had through August. We will be discussing ‘kitchen table issues’ like providing affordable healthcare for all people, working for a livable wage and making sure young people can afford higher education without overwhelming debt.”
See below more detailed campaign results for Greene County by precinct.
SELMA, AL, The Bridge Crossing Jubilee and S.O.S will commemorate the 52nd Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with a series of activities including: A re-enactment of the signing of the Act, a scavenger hunt for school supplies that will require students to find voting rights history facts to earn various school supplies; and a recommitment service to reignite the movement to secure Voting Rights.
All citizens young and old are encouraged to attend this fun but important event on Aug 6, 2017 at 4pm-6pm at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the Montgomery side. This historic site is where marchers were beaten on March 7, 1965 as they attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery to demand the right to vote for millions of disenfranchised Americans. This historic event is celebrated annually in the month of March at the Bridge Crossing Jubilee event.
“There will be little to celebrate if we don’t unite to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act”, said Senator Hank Sanders. , a co founder of the BCJ. The US Supreme Court gutted the preclearance provisions of Section 5 of the act in 2013. S.O.S and BCJ lead a ride to revive Section 5 last month to support a bill to restore Section 5 of the act. The sunrise sunset commemoration on Aug 6, 2017 is important in the struggle to revive Sec 5. For more information, please call 334-526-2626.
In one of her first official acts as Governor, Kay Ivey, on Tuesday, April 11, signed into law a bill that says juries, not judges, have the final say on whether to impose the death penalty in capital murder cases.
Ivey signed the bill, which had been passed by the Alabama House of Representatives on April 4, by a vote of 78-19. The same bill had previously passed the Alabama Senate by a vote of 30- 1.
Alabama was the only state left in the nation had these judicial override provisions.
Senator Hank Sanders of Selma had sponsored the bill in the Senate for several years along with a bill requiring a moratorium of the death penalty until Alabama studies and reviews the equity of the death penalty.
Sanders said, “Senator Dick Brewbaker, a Republican from Montgomery asked me if he could sponsor the jury override bill in this session and I agreed because my interest was to end this practice.”
According to the Equal Justice Initiative. Alabama judges have overridden jury recommendations 112 times. In 101 of those cases, the judges gave a death sentence. Sanders said that a quarter of the persons presently on death row are there because the judge overrode the jury’s decision on their case.
Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, sponsored a bill to end judicial override in the House. On the House floor, England substituted Brewbaker’s bill for his, and it won final passage. This bill was pending the Governor’s signature when Robert Bentley resigned and Kay Ivey moved up from Lieutenant Governor to the Governor’s position.
“Having judicial override almost undermines the constitutional right to trial by a jury of your peers,” England said. England’s bill, as introduced, would also have required the consent of all 12 jurors to give a death sentence. Current law requires at least 10 jurors. Brewbaker’s bill left the threshold to impose the death penalty at 10 jurors.
Ebony Howard, associate legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, issued a statement applauding the bill’s passage.
“Alabama should do everything it can to ensure that an innocent person is never executed,” Howard said. “The bipartisan effort to pass a bill that would keep a judge from overriding a jury’s vote in capital cases is a step in the right direction. As of today, Alabama is one step closer to joining every other state in our nation in prohibiting judicial override in the sentencing phase of death penalty cases.”
Alabama Arise, a statewide advocacy group on social justice issues and ending poverty in Alabama, also supported passage of the bill as one of its legislative priorities for this session.
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.
At a recent press conference at the Alabama State House, Senator Hank Sanders of Selma said the Bridge Crossing Jubilee celebration commemorating the 1965 Bloody Sunday March for Voting Rights will go forward as planned with some small changes.
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee consists of 40 or more events over the five-day period, including workshops, mass meetings, a parade, golf tournament, breakfasts, dinners, films and other events related to voting rights. The Jubilee includes a re-enactment of the 1965 march from Browns Chapel Church through downtown Selma and crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge and a rally on the Montgomery side of the bridge.
Sanders said the Jubilee received a bill for $23,882 from the City of Selma for police, fire, public service and other expenses for the five-day event. “We are not able to pay this outrageous amount. We have always said that we were willing to pay a reasonable amount but this bill is unacceptable. We paid for the right to hold this commemorative march in blood in 1965 and we are not paying now,” he said.
Sanders pointed out that most of the events are free and most are workshops held in churches and public buildings that do not require police presence for five days. “We bring in people from all over the state, nation and the World. They spend money in Selma and surrounding communities. We do not charge for most of the events and when there is a charge it is for food and other expenses. The Jubilee does not make money – it takes money,” said Sanders.
“The basic change we are making is shifting the Jubilee Festival with vendors and music from Water Street at the base of the bridge to the east side of the bridge,” said Sam Walker.
All other events will take place as planned.
On Monday, March 6, there will be a “Slow Ride to Montgomery” and a rally at the State House at the end of the ride with Rev. William Barber speaking on the moral imperatives of ending voter suppression in America. The organizers are hoping for 100 vehicles to participate. The ride will follow the route of the 1965 march, stopping at historical sites along the way.
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee begins on Thursday, March 2 at 7:00 PM with an Old-Fashioned Mass Meeting at Tabernacle
Baptist Church at 1431 Broad Street in Selma, where the initial meetings of the voting rights struggle were held in Selma in the 1960’s.
Legendary Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray will be the keynote speaker at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Thursday. Attorney Gray is the lead lawyer who argued and won the case to allow Voting Rights Foot Soldiers to march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. He is portrayed in the movie Selma.
Attorney Gray has been involved in many historical Civil Rights cases in Alabama, including Gomillion v. Lightfoot; representation of Rosa Parks, whose arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and desegregation of the Montgomery bus system; and Lee v. Macon Co. Bd. of Educ., which helped to desegregate schools throughout the state.
A full schedule of events for the weekend is available at http://www.selmajubilee.com.