On the 8th anniversary of the Shelby vs Holder, Supreme Court decision, which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act of its critical ‘pre-clearance procedures’, a collaborative coalition of organizations is holding a day of actions in Shelby County to support voting rights and national legislation to protect voting rights and restore the protections stripped by the Supreme Court. The coalition supporting voting rights includes Lift Our Vote, AL NAACP, Black Voters Matter, Leadership Conference, Poor People’s Campaign, SPLC Action, World Conference of Mayors, SOS, Transformative Justice Coalition, United Mine Workers of America, Selma Jubilee, AL Black Women’s Roundtable, National Action Network AL, TOPS, AL New South Coalition, Alabama Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Transform AL, and others. These groups have joined together to educate, empower, and engage the public to highlight the reasons why America is facing sweeping voter suppression and advance the needs for voter protections through legislative measures like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For The People Act. Event coordinators and state leadership will convene at the Shelby County Courthouse, in Columbiana, on Friday June 25th at 10:00 am, CDT for a press conference and kickoff rally around their calls to action for voter protections for the entire nation. The program will then transition to Orr Park in Montevallo, AL for a day of community service and engagement to include free food, vaccinations, voter verification, registration, and restoration, and live performances. This event will further support addressing the urgent need to restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to ensure that every eligible voter can make their voice heard at the ballot box, free from discrimination. The coalition invites people from throughout Alabama to attend the Shelby Day events and support the voter protection demands. For more information contact: http://www.liftourvote.com and http://www.alnaacp.org or the members of the coalition listed above.
The Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) Spring Convention featured workshops on a variety of voting issues.
This was in keeping with the convention theme that Every Issue Is A Voting Issue.
In the morning, prior to lunch, there were three workshops. The first was on Education with Dr. Daniel Boyd, State Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and former Lowndes County Superintendent of Education and Dr. Carol P. Zippert, Greene County School Board member and Chair of the Greene County ANSC Chapter.
Dr. Zippert mentioned her concerns with the recently passed Alabama Literacy Act, which requires that third graders not reading on a third grade level, not be promoted to the next grade, but held back until their reading meets the proper standard. Dr. Zippert expressed concerns about whether the state would provide resources for reading tutors, coaches and other support necessary for third graders to meet these goals.
Dr. Boyd commented on his work at the State Department of Education, saying, “Education is based on three pillars – the school, the home and the community – all three are important to the full development of the child. In some cases the schools will have to supplement what the parents can do and motivate the community to do more for the education of our young people.”
The second workshop was on Medicare Expansion and its critical impact on health care for people, hospitals, especially small rural hospitals and the general welfare and economic development of the state. John Zippert, who is the current ANSC President and Chair of the Greene County Health System reflected on the importance of expanding Medicaid to provide insurance coverage for 300,000 working poor Alabamians who currently lack health care insurance coverage.
Presdelane Harris, Organizing Director for Alabama Arise pointed out that despite claims by Governor Ivey and legislative leaders that funds were unavailable for Medicaid expansion, there was a source to fund Medicaid Expansion, prison reform and taking the sales tax off groceries. This would require Alabama, which is one of a small number of states that allows the deduction of Federal taxes paid from State income taxes, to end this deduction, which mostly benefits the richest taxpayers.
Harris said closing this tax loophole would generate over $700 million a year in new revenues for the state of Alabama, which would pay for Medicaid Expansion ($168 million first year, decreasing thereafter), prison reform and allow for taking the state sales tax off groceries.
Martha Morgan reported on the work of ANSC, SOS, Poor Peoples Campaign and other organizations rallying each week at the Legislature to urge the adoption of Medicaid Expansion. Zippert suggested that ANSC chapters and other groups may need to meet with their state legislative delegations to educate them and advocate with them on eliminating this regressive tax deduction to allow for progressive changes.
The third workshop was on voting rights. The presenters included Faya Rose Toure of Selma, Robert Avery of Gadsden and Jessica Barker of Huntsville. They spoke on a variety of concerns to register, educate and prepare voters for the 2020 elections, the Presidential Primary on March 3 and the general election on November 3, 2020. The group is planning a “Freedom Ride to Revive Section 5 of the VRA” from August 3 to 7, 2019 to push for restoration of the Voting Rights Act and ending voter suppression tactics across the nation.
At the luncheon in place of a guest speaker, twenty ANSC members spoke, each for a minute, about the voting issue that most concerned them. These issues included: gerrymandering, police misconduct, climate change, voter apathy, substance abuse, waste water treatment, involvement of young people and many others. This was a very spirited discussion.
After lunch, ANSC members held Congressional District meetings to elect members to the ANSC Board and to discuss local priorities.
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.”
A group of thirty representatives of the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) and the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) Direct Action Committee protested the nomination, by President-elect Trump, of Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to become U. S. Attorney General. The protest was held for the past two Tuesdays, in front of the Federal Courthouse Building in Montgomery, where Sessions has his Alabama office.
The ANSC and SOS have issued a detailed statement opposing Session’s nomination. The statement says:
“We are compelled to issue this statement, because as citizens and residents of Alabama, we are intimately knowlegable and keenly aware of the harm that Senator Sessions has brought to our people and our state. We are issuing this statement as a warning to people in other states of the United States that Jeff Sessions is singularly unfit, manifestly unqualified and totally insensitive to serve as the chief law enforcement agent for our great nation.
“We are especially concerned that as Attorney General, he will be charged with enforcing civil rights, voting rights, and human rights laws, as well as being the primary caretaker of our criminal justice system. A criminal justice system and the policing mechanisms that support it are in urgent need of reform. By education, temperament and actions over the past 40 years, Jeff Sessions has shown himself to be unfit, unqualified and insensitive to serve in this critical position.”
The ANSC, SOS and other groups will continue to protest Session’s nomination. On Friday, December 16, 2016, at 11:00 AM the NAACP, the Alabama Moral Movement, ANSC, SOS and other organizations will protest at the Vance Federal Office Building in Birmingham, where Sessions has another of his state offices