Greene County celebrates Freedom Day, 48 years

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Shown L To R: Rev. Wendell Paris, Rev. Tommy Wilson, Min. Maggie Jolly, Elder Spiver Gordon, Rev. James Carter, City Councilwoman LaTasha Johnson, Min. Amy Wiggins, Lorenzo French and sitting in the center, Robert Hines.

Hines and familyRobert and Ethel Hines surrounded by their family members.

paris and gordon.jpgRev. Wendell Paris received the Lucius Black Freedom Day Award
presented by Spiver Gordon

The 48th anniversary of Greene County Freedom Day (July 29, 1969) was celebrated at the William M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw, Saturday, July 29, 2017. In the historic 1969 election, a special election held when Alabama deliberately omitted from its 1968 state ballot the candidates running under the National Democrat Party of Alabama (NDPA) , Robert Hines and Rev. James Posey were elected to the Greene County Board of Education, to join Rev. Peter Kirksey, who was already on the Board, giving Black people a majority on the board. Also in that election Franchie Burton, Harry Means, Vassie Knott, Levi Morrow, Sr. were elected to the Greene County Commission.
In the 1970 elections, Rev. William M. Branch was elected the as the first Black Probate Judge in Alabama; Thomas Gilmore was elected the first Black sheriff in Greene County and the second Black Sheriff in Alabama.
The day long celebration which included a program honoring the Honorable Robert Hines, former county commissioner, school board member, community leader, church leader and lifelong farmer. Mr. Hines is also the last surviving elected official of the initial group of Black elected officials in 1969. Hines received the Martin Luther King, Jr Freedom Award.

The Alabama Civil Rights Museum, headed by Spiver W. Gordon, sponsored the program commemorating the special election in 1969, which led to Black control of the School Board, Greene County Commission, Probate Judge and Sheriff’s office.
Greene County was one of the first counties in Alabama and the nation to realize the full benefits of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Black candidates joined the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA), headed by Dr. John Cashin of Huntsville, and sued in Federal court for a new election when Blacks were left off the ballot in 1968. The Supreme Court of the United States ordered a special election for July 29, 1969 with the names of the Black candidates restored to the ballot, under the Eagle symbol of the NDPA. The white candidates ran under the Democratic Party with a rooster as their symbol and ‘Segregation for the Right!’ as their slogan.
Spiver Gordon and the Alabama Civil Rights Museum recognized grassroots community leaders who were involved in the struggle, including those who ran for office, were precinct leaders, were student marchers, were evicted from their homes on white folks property when they registered or organized politically, raised funds to support the work and those who baked a cake or cooked a dinner to help feed civil rights workers. Gordon said he hoped that the Museum would have photos and a written story on each person who played a part – big or small – in the Greene County voting and civil rights movement.
Gordon welcomed the congregation and stated the importance of knowing our history or being doomed to repeat it. He gave several examples of the struggles of those earlier times and how we have come a long way but still have so far to go. Gordon related the recent story of a man getting shot and killed because his dog pooped on another man’s lawn. “It should be a law where we are required to help each other,” Gordon said.
Many speakers at the event lamented the fact that young people in Greene County do not know about the struggles for voting rights and democracy in this county. Several speakers said our youth should be here to learn “Greene County’s History” and how Greene County spearheaded the movement in other counties as well as the nation.
Sis. Geraldine Walton, a retired educator, delivered the occasion emphasizing Freedom Day is the day a movement started. Hattie Smith and Muggie King spoke on the struggles and threats that Black people had to endure during this period to win rights for everyone. Min. Donell Branch, the son of the late Rev. William M. Branch, stated, “You have to stand for something or you will fall for any thing. I remember those times my father bought land because 60 – 64 people were thrown off their property for registering to vote.”
Former Tax collector, Edmond Bell of Sumter County, introduced the guest speaker,  Rev. Wendell Paris, a founding member of the Tuskegee Advancement League (TIAL), a campus organization affiliated with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He helped to register voters and participated in direct action campaigns in Alabama and Mississippi.
Rev. Wendell Paris of Jackson, MS is one of the early foot soldiers of the Voting and Civil Rights Movement. Paris brought greeting on behalf of Panola Land Buyers Association of Gainesville, and the Mississippi Veterans of the Civil Right Movement.
Paris stated that Greene County represented all the people, for the people, by the people. Paris said that 48 years ago we were not considered people; we were considered as property and because of federal funds and grants, in order to received those fundings, we were counted as 3/5 human. “When Barack Obama was elected as president, I went up 4/5 human, but I want to be 5/5 of a human to be considered equal and treated fairly,” he said.
Paris remarked that earlier this year many people proudly said that they voted for Donald Trump, but today he can’t find anyone who will say they voted for Donald Trump. “Trump does not care about poor white folk or middle class white folk, even millionaires are not rich enough for Trump. He is concerned only for the billionaire.
“Look at who Trump has put in office, Jeff Session who prosecuted Albert Turner his wife Evelyn Turner and Spencer Hogue, Jr. The year was 1985 and Sessions, then a US Attorney, prosecuted an infamous voter fraud case that captured the nation’s attention, and had civil rights leaders rallying behind the accused. Known as the “Marion Three,” Turner, her husband Albert, and Spencer Hogue Jr. faced dozens of charges that their attorneys said were racially motivated. Session’s office disputed that, then and now,” remarked Paris.
Paris received the Lucius Black Freedom Award. The day-long festivities will continued on the old courthouse square in Eutaw with praise, music, fellowship, fun and food.

Board of Education approves non-renewal of school personnel recommended by superintendent

The Greene County Board of Education held its monthly meeting, Monday May 8, 2017, one week earlier than usual to satisfy the timeline for end of school requirements regarding school personnel. State law mandates that non-tenured personnel must be notified of their non-renewal status 15 days prior to the end of the school term. Individuals who receive a non-renewal notice from the Board of Education, may still be considered for continued employment for the next school term.
With the recommendation of superintendent Dr. James H, Carter, Sr, the board approved the following personnel for non-renewal by school.
Eutaw Primary School: Eric Hendricks, Physical Education Teacher; Jackie Allen, Reading Intervention.
Robert Brown Middle School: Sheketha Crowell, 5th Grade Teacher; Sheila Billups, 5th Grade Teacher; Shenetta Kirkman, 6th Grade Teacher; Wanda Blakely, Special Education Teacher; Joseph Polk, 7th Grade Teacher; Tiffany Linebarger, STEM Facilitator; Angel Cordona; Adjunct Dance Instructor; Vassie Brown, Adjunct Instructor, Drama; Frank Jackson, Auto Mechanic Teacher (part-time); Teresa Atkins, Family and Consumer Science; Jacob Sullivan, 8th Grade Social Studies; Jeffery Nolen, 7th Grade Social Studies; Marjorie Duncan, Reading Intervention.

Greene County High School: Frank Jackson, Auto Mechanic Teacher;
Greene County Career Tech Center: Sondra Green, Health Science Teacher (part-time); Tweela Jordan, Teacher Aid (part-time).
Greene County Learning Academy: Cordarrin Wilson, Alternative School Teacher; Fentress Means, Alternative School Teacher.
Additional Service Contracts (separate contracts) were terminated for the following personnel:
Rodney Wesley, Head Basketball Coach (Boys); Kendra Payne, Head Basketball Coach (Girls); Gentrell Eatman, Head Football Coach; Eric Hendericks, Assistant Football Coach; Walter Taylor, Assistant Football Coach; Janice Jeames, Girls’ Volleyball Coach; Frederick Holmes, Band Director; Jerome Franks, Head Baseball Coach (Boys); Jacob Sullivan, Head Softball Coach (Girls); Angel Cardona, Dance line Sponsor; Cordarrin Wilson, Track Team. Under personnel items, the board approved a three year Principal Contract (probationary) for Toice Goodson, 9th Grade Academy Principal.
The board approved the following personnel for the system’s Summer School Program.
Eutaw Primary School Teachers: Diana Bowen; Pamela McGee; Montoya Binion; Keisha Williams; Tamecisha Abrams.
Robert Brown Middle School Teachers: Vanessa Bryant, 4th Grade; Theodora Scott, 5th Grade; Shunetta Kirkman, 6th Grade; Katoya Quarles – Math, 7th & 8th Grades; Su’Kova Hicks – English, 7th & 8th Grades.
Greene County High School: Angela Harkness; Gilda Jowers (additional facilitator).
The following administrative services, recommended by Dr. Carter, were approved by the board.
* Travel Biloxi, MS to attend 2017 Spring Nike Championship Basketball Clinics on May 12, for Rodney Wesley, Jeffery Wesley, Kendra Payne, Codarrin Wilson.
Provide Summer Feeding Program at the following school sites: Greene County High School – June 15-30 (duration of Summer School Program); Eutaw Primary School – June 5-16 (two weeks).
Replacement of controls for units above ceiling and remove additional insulation for new controls into existing heating and cooling units at Robert Brown Middle School at additional costs of $8,000.
Authorize Superintendent Carter to secure independent experts to determine cause of buckling of gym floor at Greene County High School.
Chief School Financial Officer, Katrina Sewell, presented the board with the April Accounts Payable Check Register and the Payroll Check Register. Sewell reported that all local accounts have been reconciled with the exception of Carver Middle School/Paramount accounts, which are consolidated through March, 2017. According to Sewell, the system has requested assistance from the State Department of Education to complete the bank reconcilements.
The CSFO also noted that the Bus Fleet Renewal Fund for 2016-2017 was short $19,000. This amount will be reimbursed to the general fund account from the 2017-2018 Fleet Renewal Fund.
Superintendent Carter presented updated on various programs/projects of the current school year including the following: Family and Consumer Science; Computer Science Program; Drama Program; Career Tech Program; JROTC Program; Dual Enrollment; Choir; Community Services.

School board members sworn into office; schools accreditation affirmed

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L to R: Mrs. Janette Cockrell holds Bible as her daughter Kashaya Cockrell is sworn-in; John Zippert holds Bible for his wife Dr. Carol Zippert as Judge Lillie Jones Osborne administers the Oath .

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Shown L to R displaying Schools Accreditation Plaque: Superintendent James Carter,Sr., School Boardmembers Carrie Dancy, Kashaya Cockrell, Leo Branch, Carol Zippert, William Morgan, Principals Sharon Jennings and Frederick Square.

 

Ms. Kashaya Cockrell, representing School Board District 2, and Dr. Carol P. Zippert, representing District 1, were sworn into office at the Board of Education meeting held, Monday, November 28, 2016. Greene County District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne conducted the ceremony. Cockrell and Zippert were elected to six year terms each following the November 8, 2016 general election. Zippert served on the school board for the past two years completing the term vacated by Lester Brown when he was elected to the Greene County Commission in 2014, representing District 1.

Superintendent James H. Carter, Sr. presented the board with a plaque affirming the accreditation of the Greene County School System by the AdvanceEd Accreditation Commission. Following an intensive examination of the school system’s total operations in April, 2016, the AdvanceEd External Review Team recommended Greene County Schools for accreditation.
In other business the school board approved the following personnel items.
Employment of Tweela Jordan as Part-time Teacher-Aide at Greene County Career Center; Ivory Robinson as Elementary Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School; Eddie Coats as Bus Driver for the system; Wennoa Peebles as Bus Driver for the system; Adding TreDemis Davis to the current Bus Driver Substitute List 2016-2017. November 14, 2016 approved as the last working day for Ms. Brenda Grant (Retirement was approved October 17, 2016).
The board approved the following administrative services recommended by Superintendent Carter.
* Acceptance of bids for a wrought iron fence, brick column, and gate for Greene County High School when funds are available.
* Permission to research cost of building an athletic field house on Greene County High School campus (Rationale: To be able to utilize the practice field).
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Integra Realty Resources – Birmingham for Valuation and Consulting Services for the former Paramount Jr. High School and Carver Middle School properties.
* Contract with West Central Official Association of Livingston, Alabama for basketball officials during the 2016 -2017 school term.
* Contract with Criterion Consulting LLC for Formative Administrator Evaluation Support Services for 2016 – 2017 school year.
* Permission for Dr. James Carter, Superintendent, to attend the National Superintendent Conference in New Orleans, LA on March 2 – 4, 2017.
* Surplus old athletic uniforms for Paramount Jr. High and Carver Middle School or allow coaches to decide how to use them.
* Request to install a security fence at football stadium at Robert Brown Middle School Stadium
* Surplus and sale inventory at Paramount Jr. High and Carver Middle School.
Field trip Request for students and teachers at Greene County High to attend Education Day at Carowinds in Charlotte, NC on April 21, 2017.
Field Trip Request for Robert Brown Middle School’s 4 – 6 grade to participate in the Disney YES (Youth Educational Series) Program in Orlando, FL on May 7, 2017.
Field Trip Request for Drama Class to travel to New York City during Spring Break.
Field Trip Request for students and teachers at Robert Brown Middle School to travel to Atlanta, Ga to visit a Civil Rights Museum and have a College Tour on April 25, 2017.
Field Trip Request for students and teachers at Robert Brown Middle School to visit Ruby Falls and Rock City in Chattanooga, TN on April 21, 2017.
Out of School Violent Criminal Conduct Policy.
Black History In the School Curriculum Policy.
Resolution to remove authorized signers, Shane Martin and Emma Louie and add Leon Dowe and James Carter as authorized signers at Bank of Tuscaloosa.
Closing Carver Middle School’s account at Merchants and Farmers Bank.
Bid submitted by ADS Security in the amount of $19, 980.00 for Camera System at Robert Brown Middle School when funds are available.
Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
Bank reconciliations as submitted by Mr. Leon Dowe, CSFO.
In his report, Dr. Carter noted the following:
* Attended the World of Work Conference at Shelton State.
* Participated in the Red Ribbon Week Activities.
* Participated in the Breast Cancer Awareness Program.
* Attended and Toured Mercedes Automobile Plant.
* Performed structured interviews with Principals to enhance student achievement
* Reviewed test data with staff. This should help us better plan our instructional goal of 5% increase on the ACT Aspire.
* Ordered 40 jackets to help parents of students who were unable to pay for jackets at the time the uniform dress code for the 9th grade academy was established.
* Participated in the homecoming parade and several school coronations
* Attended and participated in the Induction Ceremony at Greene County High School Mu Alpha Theta honor society and Rho Beta history honor society
Attended West Alabama Works – a Workforce Development Council meeting hosted by Mercedes Benz.
Inquire about a partnership with city and county government to build or to organize a technology center.
“In order for the Greene County School System to continue improving, teachers must develop measurable goals for all students. It is my opinion that this system needs refining, better data and better assessments instruments. We must get empowerment right starting with teachers, parents, school community and above all, the students. Our leadership must find a vision that yield positive results.
“The leadership in our schools and classrooms must perform a self assessment and ask the tough question. Do I want a world class school and district or am I satisfied with the status quo.
Robert Brown Dedication Ceremony held November 10. Brown was honored by the recently organized middle school being officially named in his honor, Dr. Carter stated.