SOS holds Juneteenth march across the bridge in Selma

Some of the speakers at the rally in Voting Rights Memorial Park after march across the bridge
Marchers on Juneteenth, cross the Pettus Bridge, asking that its name be changed

The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, the NAACP, ANSC, and other organizations sponsored a Juneteenth celebration in Selma, Alabama which culminated in a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and rally in the Voting Rights Memorial Park at the foot of the bridge on the Eastern side.
The June 19 – Juneteenth celebration honors the end of slavery in the United States when the Union Army reached Galveston, Texas in 1865, four months after the Confederate surrender in Virginia. Union forces brought the news that enslaved Black people were free under the Emancipation Proclamation.
The SOS march across the bridge had several purposes including calling for a change in the name of the Pettus Bridge because it is named for a Confederate general and grand dragon of the Klu Klux Klan.
Other purposes of the march were to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for criminal justice reform to end police brutality; Expansion of Medicaid in Alabama and an end to healthcare disparities in the treatment of Black and other people of color, especially during the coronavirus pandemic; and support for the ‘Vote or Die Campaign’ to increase voter participation and end voter suppression.
The SOS march supported the demand to change the name of the bridge from Edmund Pettus to the ‘Freedom Bridge’. “We are aware that there is a national petition drive to rename the bridge for Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten on the bridge on March 7, 1965 – Bloody Sunday. We feel that it should not be re-named for one person, since there were so many leaders and grassroots foot-soldiers involved over many decades, in a movement for voting rights. It would be better to have a generic name,” said Hank Sanders, SOS Steering Committee member and local leader.
Earlier in the week on Monday night, June 15, 2020, SOS supported a march and rally in Tuskegee to call for the removal of the Confederate statue in the center of town. Former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee said, “We have been trying for more than thirty years to remove this statue and vestige of white supremacy from the town.”
At the end of the rally, the Selma chapter of SOS distributed Afrocentric and Black History books to children. This was to kickoff of a special reading program that ultimately will lead to the presentation of scholarships to youth participating in the reading program.

SOS places body bags on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery to symbolize the disparate healthcare impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for Medicaid Expansion

As of June 3, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Alabama had 18,717 confirmed cases of
coronavirus, with 653 deaths
Greene County had 95 confirmed cases
with 4 deaths
Sumter County had 227 confirmed cases with 7 deaths
and Hale County had 182
cases with 9 deaths

Montgomery, AL – The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held an Alabama State Capitol Body Bag Memorial Caravan as well as a press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on Thursday, May 28, 2020. The caravan and press conference included body bags to symbolize and memorialize all the lives lost and the lives that will be lost in Alabama due to COVID-19 as well as additional deaths due to state leaders’ failure to take action to expand Medicaid.
SOS placed ten body bags to symbolize the over 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. These body bags also represented the 700 or more people dying each year in Alabama from the failure to expand Medicaid and provide health care to 340,000 working poor people.
SOS Direct Action Committee Chair Faya Rose Toure said: “Alabama has been all over the national and state news for more than a week. This is because COVID-19 cases are spiking in our state, deaths are increasing and many hospitals are full. In Montgomery, a city with three major hospitals, people have been told to go to Birmingham for care due to the fact ICU beds have filled. These body bags we have with us today are symbolic of all of the unnecessary deaths taking place in this state. The tragic thing is there will be many more unnecessary deaths and many more body bags if action is not immediately taken.”
World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “We are again calling on the federal government to do whatever is necessary to make sure that all the resources necessary for testing and tracing are available in Alabama and also to make sure they are directed to those most in need, whether they are on the front lines, whether they live in minority communities and more. The federal government must act forcefully right now. Too must time has already been wasted, and we cannot afford to waste another second while more body bags are filled with people who could and should still be alive.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “We must all wear masks when we are out in public, and businesses should mandate that their employees and customers wear masks. Masks are not a political issue. They are a life and death issue. Masks are for everyone’s safety, so MASK UP ALABAMA for the health of everyone! These body bags on the steps of the Capitol represent the deaths of hundreds of people in Alabama because, as of today, there have been 583 deaths in our state attributed to the coronavirus, and doctors believe there are even more. There are also more than 16,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama. We do not want to see any more body bags filled with Alabama bodies. So mask up Alabama! Also while the expansion of Medicaid cannot stop the virus now, expanding Medicaid can reduce the number of deaths. We must stop every single death that we can. And we must expand Medicaid – for now and for the future!”
Dr. Joe Reed, Chair of the Alabama Democratic Conference, said: “If the State of Alabama does not want to take federal money to expand Medicaid then it should be consistent and refuse all the other federal money Alabama takes. Every year Alabama takes billions more in federal dollars than it gives to the United States. For every one dollar, Alabama and Alabamians pay in federal taxes, our state and its people get back $61.56 from the federal government. Alabama has always been a taker state. Alabama needs to be consistent and take the federal funds to expand Medicaid now and improve the health and save of the lives of the people of the state. Alabama can do it now it if it wants to do it.”
Chair of the Greene County Health Systems John Zippert said: “I have watched doctors from across the state tell heartbreaking stories of what they and their patients are personally facing in fighting COVID-19 in Alabama. And these have not been doctors at rural hospitals. I know firsthand the dire situation rural hospitals in Alabama deal with every day and have been dealing with long before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Governor Ivey has opened up large parts of Alabama, and, with that, Alabama pulmonologists, infections disease specialists and other doctors anticipate more patients contracting the virus, requiring hospitalization and dying from COVID-19 in our state. The danger has been real for a long time, but it is becoming even more dangerous now. If Alabama does not expand Medicaid, our leaders will be responsible for many more deaths and hospital closures that could be avoided.”
Rev. Kenneth Glasscow of the Ordinary Peoples Society in Dothan and SOS Justice Committee Co-chair stated,” We must be concerned about the special problems of people in our jails and prisons. The State of Alabama and local jurisdictions should be releasing non-violent and elderly inmates who are in danger of contracting and dying from the coronavirus because there is no way to practice social distancing in our jails and prisons. We must also condemn the State of Alabama for accepting more Federal funds for policing but not for Medicaid expansion to heal the sick and injured.”
Attorney and former state Senator Hank Sanders said: “In Alabama, we always find money to do what we want to do. We can find the money to expand Medicaid, even during this pandemic. We could have and should have done it years ago, but we must now do it during these times. And in doing so, we would also lift Alabama in so many ways – including tens of thousands of jobs, saved hospitals, healthier Alabamians and much more. Most importantly, we would have fewer deaths of Alabamians. We would save lives.”

SOS Caravan calls for Federal and state action at Montgomery Federal Courthouse

Cars lined up for SOS Caravan to Federal Courthouse
SOS  Press Conference in front of Montgomery Federal

The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held a life-or-death federal caravan on Thursday, May 21, 2020, with dozens of cars from across the state circling the Montgomery Federal Courthouse seven times with leaders then stopping to hold a noon press conference outside the Federal Courthouse. Leaders called on federal and state officials to take action now to save lives in the coronavirus pandemic overwhelming Alabama and killing Blacks at least three times the rate of Whites.
This was the fifth action taken by SOS since April to highlight the need for Federal and state action to respond to the disproportionate impacts of the corona virus on Black and poor people in Alabama.
SOS is demanding that Gov. Kay Ivey and the Legislature expand Medicaid in response to the overwhelming need for healthcare revealed by the pandemic. SOS plans to return to the State Capitol this Thursday and deliver body-bags symbolic of the tragic impact of this coronavirus on the most vulnerable people in the state.
At the Federal Courthouse rally last Thursday, World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “We are calling on President Trump and Governor Ivey to work with Alabama’s congressional delegation to find a way to expand health care coverage for the people of Alabama. The situation was dire before the coronavirus pandemic, but it is terrible now. We know that they can find a way with some strokes of the pen to provide lifesaving coverage and care for Alabamians. We don’t care what they call it. We don’t care who gets the credit. Just do it, and do it NOW!” emphasized the former Tuskegee mayor and Alabama state representative.
Montgomery Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “Montgomery is overwhelmed. Our hospitals had been having to share ventilators and then ran out of ICU beds yesterday. Our city is included on the White House list of ‘locations to watch” for large COVID-19 outbreaks. We are not just a location to watch; we are living it. The outbreak is here, and it is life and death. It is also taking out our Black brothers and sisters at three times the rate of our white brothers and sisters. Governor Ivey, we are glad you received successful treatment for your lung cancer, but we know every human being is precious. And every Alabamian deserves to have lifesaving treatment.”
Alabama NAACP Bernard Simelton of Madison County, AL said: “The federal government has put a lot of money into Alabama to help us be a world leader in space and defense and more. We need the President and Governor Ivey to work with our congressional delegation to provide health care for working Alabamians. The legislation pending in Congress that gives the fourteen states like Alabama, which have not expanded Medicaid, the first three years of funding fully provided by the federal government must become law as soon as possible.”
Civil Rights Advocate Faya Toure said: “Alabama workers ought not to be forced to choose between work and death – or even work and sickness. Alabamians must be able to work safely to provide for their families. It is truly a matter of life and death in Alabama workplaces – not only for the Alabamians who work there but also for the individuals who do business at those workplaces. We must have safe workplaces.”
Chair of the Greene County Health Systems John Zippert said: “We have reached a critical mass here in Alabama. Rural hospitals have been dying for years with way too many barely hanging on by life support. And this issue goes far beyond rural hospitals. It is a life-and-death matter for rural hospitals, but it is also a life-and-death matter for thousands of Alabamians all across Alabama. President Trump and Governor Ivey, work with Alabama’s congressional delegation to find a way to expand health care coverage for the people of Alabama and save hospitals.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “I continue to prevail upon the leaders of our nation and state not to forget the Alabamians in jails and prisons. Many of President Trump’s cohorts, including Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, have been getting out of federal prisons due to concerns of health and death risks in prison due to COVID-19. Manafort’s sentence is not up until 2024, but he has been put on house arrest, and Michael Cohen is being furloughed today – both because of COVID-19’s deadly concerns. Why should they get special treatment? Prisons and jails are some of the most deadly places during the coronavirus pandemic. In too many cases, nonviolent offenders face the death penalty from COVID-19 if left incarcerated. Others in our federal prison system – and state prisons and jails – deserve the same lifesaving treatment Manafort and Cohen are getting. No one should dispute that.”
Attorney and former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said: “I know from my 35 years in the Alabama State Senate, that both the federal government and the state government find a way to do that which they really want to do. This is a life-and-death matter, and if President Trump and Governor Ivey want to save lives, they can do it. We are here again today calling on them to do it and to do it immediately.”
During the SOS Federal Caravan at Montgomery’s Federal Courthouse, black and white balloons were again tied to cars in the caravan as the cars circled the Courthouse seven times in the Jericho Walls Spirit. At the noon press conference at the Federal Courthouse, the balloons were released in recognition of the lives lost and the lives in jeopardy in Alabama right now – and also with the recognition that Black lives are in much greater jeopardy than white lives.

Alabama’s rural hospitals are on life support Legislature claims victory in adjourning early while ignoring life-saving issues Alabama SOS again calls for Medicaid Expansion in Alabama


Shown above John Zippert Chair of SOS Health Committee addresses crowd


Montgomery, AL – Members of Alabama SOS, the Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy, held a news conference, Tuesday, March 27th, at 11:30 a.m. in the 3rd Floor Press Room of the Alabama State House to address critical and time-sensitive health care issues facing the State of Alabama.
John Zippert, Chair of the SOS Health Committee said: “We are concerned about the State of Alabama’s requesting a Medicaid rule change that would affect 8,500 Medicaid caretakers in our state, denying them Medicaid coverage. The rule requires they show they are earning a mandatory wage. These 8,500 people are taking care of Medicaid-eligible children and/or seniors and adults. They are hardworking Alabamians caring for others, but they are not earning a wage that would provide them Medicaid coverage under this rule.

“For these Alabamians to be covered under this new rule, they would no longer be able to care for other Medicaid-eligible Alabamians, who are either children or adults or seniors in much greater need. This makes absolutely no sense. This is part of a national trend that is needlessly hurting people in Alabama and other states by putting political rhetoric ahead of facts and dollars and sense.”
“SOS is urging everyone who disagrees with Governor Ivey’s shortsighted and meanspirited effort to impose a work requirement on Medicaid caretakers to write the State of Alabama Medicaid agency expressing our concern and opposition.. Each of us has the opportunity to email our comments by April 2nd at and by mail to Administrative Secretary, Alabama Medicaid Agency, 501 Dexter Ave., P.O. Box 5624, Montgomery, AL 36103-5624,” said John Zippert, SOS Health Committee Co-Chair.
Johnny Ford, SOS Health Care Committee Co-Chair and founder of the World Conference of Mayors, said: “Because the State of Alabama has not expanded Medicaid coverage, small rural hospitals across Alabama are being hurt, threatened with closure, or closed. Many of the people coming to these hospitals were supposed to be covered by Medicaid but currently are not. This is harming the area where I live as well as rural areas throughout our entire state. If these hospitals close, all people in these areas will be directly hurt.”
Another critical issue SOS addressed is the ongoing failure of the State of Alabama to expand Medicaid coverage. “Expanding Medicaid would be a huge economic boon to our state,” said Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders. “More than 30 states across the country, including in the South, have already expanded Medicaid. Alabama tax dollars are going to help people in other states instead of the people of Alabama.”
Zippert, who is also Chair of the Board of the Greene County Health System and President of the Alabama New South Coalition added: “Medicaid reimbursement – including the disproportionate share that rural hospitals already receive – has been even further reduced by the failure to expand Medicaid. People who have insurance are also going to pay higher premiums in Alabama because we have not expanded Medicaid. So many Alabamians are paying the cost because the State refuses to expand Medicaid”
“Rural hospitals are on life support,” said Ford, “and the Governor could save them with the stroke of her pen. The Alabama Legislature is proud to be adjourning early this week claiming their work has been done while rural hospitals across the state – both in Black and White communities – are threatened with closure every day. This can be fixed with Medicaid expansion. We need action – not today, not yesterday, but years ago. But we will take action today. The Legislature’s work is not done nor is the work of the Governor.”
SOS is comprised of more than 40 statewide Alabama organizations committed to justice and democracy. Members of the SOS Health Committee led today’s news conference.