SOS opposes Alabama State Board of Education resolution on teaching history in Alabama schools

Attorney Faya Rose Toure shown making statement at State Board

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) joined many other groups in opposing the adoption of a resolution by the State Board of Education “preserving intellectual freedom and non-discrimination in Alabama’s public schools”. The Board held a hearing on the resolution on last Thursday and then on a 7 to 2 vote adopted the resolution and administrative rule to implement the proposal. The two Black members of the Board cast the dissenting votes on the resolution and administrative rule.

The State Board of Education made a vague statement in response to the teaching of “critical race theory” in Alabama public schools which sets unclear guidelines on the teaching of history in the state, which will limit a truthful consideration of slavery, the Jim Crow period and the Civil Rights Movement, in a state that played a major role in these historical developments.

SOS held a press conference in front of the State Board of Education building to explain its position on the State Board’s resolution and then participated with other groups presenting its position to the Board at the hearing. Attorney Faya Rose Toure, veteran civil rights activist presented SOS’s statement to the State Board.

In its statement, SOS states, “On first reading, this resolution appears to promote the humanity of all people. It states that white supremacy should not be taught and encouraged in Alabama’s public schools. But it insidiously allows teacher to disregard and even sanitize Alabama’s three-hundred-year history of slavery and segregation that instill white supremacy and black inferiority in nearly every child and institution in the state. Who will decide what is the respectable and responsible teaching of Alabama’s history of racial violence and injustice? That is the question and our concern.”

The SOS statement continues, “We are an interracial statewide organization committed to the ideals for the Declaration of Independence. For centuries, African American youth and Indigenous youth were legally denied basic civil and human rights. The denial of these rights was often secured with state sanctioned violence. After the Civil War, the promise of democracy for African American children was cruelly broken. Instead, those who committed treason to maintain the economic benefits of slavery were resurrected as heroes. Today, there are statues honoring the Confederate soldiers but nothing recognizing the two hundred thousand African American soldiers who fought to end the most demeaning barbaric slavery in human history.

“Unfortunately, African American youth continue to be adversely impacted from slavery and segregation. African American men are only 12% of the population, but nearly 50% of the prison population. In nearly every area of life, African American people are at the bottom. Coronavirus is more deadly in the school to prison pipeline as a consequence of Alabama’s racial policies and practices that still fail to recognize the genius and talents of African American youth and children.

“The stories of resistance to Alabama’s draconian laws and policies are also critical to the attainment of truth and reconciliation. Three major movements for Civil Rights took place in Alabama to challenge the wheels of injustice and segregation, yet most students know nothing about the movements in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. These stories are not critical race theories, they are based on factual events and proof of the ability of African American youth to resist racial oppression, but also drugs, gang violence and nonracial forces of injustice.

“To deny students of all races these stories is a grave injustice that keeps Alabama from being democratic and just. There can be no racial healing in the State until Alabama confronts its racial past and its clinging to monuments and policies that reveals its lack of will to recognize the humanity of all of its citizens.”

The SOS full statement can be read on its website.

SOS holds rally to support George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and other steps to support criminal justice reform

Members of SOS rally and press conference on May 14, 2021 in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act at the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama (photo by K. C. Bailey, Selma, AL)

 

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) held a rally and press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery last Friday, May 14, 2021. The focus of the event was to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and other steps to combat racial profiling and brutality by police in Alabama. The rally also expressed opposition to Governor Ivey’s multi-billion plans to build three private prisons, in response to Federal complaints about unsafe conditions in the state’s existing prisons. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a critical step to address the pandemic of police injustice and killing of innocent Black, Brown and poor people in Alabama and across the nation. This act, HR 1280 has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting action by the U. S. Senate. The act includes provisions to prevent and remedy racial profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels. It also limits the unnecessary use of force and restricts the use of no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and carotid holds. The act would limit the use of ‘qualified immunity’ for the defense of police who hurt unarmed civilians. It also creates a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. It also establishes new reporting requirements, including on the use of force, officer misconduct, and routine policing practices (e.g., stops and searches). At the rally, Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of the Ordinary People’s Society in Dothan, Alabama, an organization committed to serving incarcerated people both in prison and after their release, said “The same communities with high rates of poverty, health conditions like diabetes, low educational levels are the same communities that are providing the inmates to fill our prisons. All of these problems are inter-related and need solutions that reduce the numbers of people in Alabama prisons and provides more opportunities for the inmates.” Morgan Dunkett of the student group, Communities Not Prisons, who opposes Gov. Ivey’s plan to borrow funds illegally to build three private prisons, said, “ We oppose the Governor’s plans to build these prisons and we oppose the laws and conditions that feed people into the prison system. Adoption of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act will make a difference in reducing the number of people from our communities that are sent to prison.” Yogi Gillbey of Yogiesmedia and mother of an incarcerated son, said, “Too many innocent people have been sent to Alabama prisons. People are being raped and tortured in our prisons. Guards in the prisons should be required to have on cameras at all times to cut down on the violence in our prisons. More people should be released on reasonable bail, rather than spending months in prison because they cannot afford bail.” William Harrison, an SOS member from Montgomery said that reform of the criminal justice system was linked to voting and voter suppression. “We must encourage people to vote to elect people who will support the George Floyd Act and other legislation to reform the system. Too many states are adopting voter suppression measures which will make this situation harder to turn around,” he said. Danielle Chanzez, from Jacksonville, Florida, asked to speak and unfurl a banner about the case of Diamond Ford and her partner Anthony Grant who were arrested by police exercising a “no-knock warrant” at their home one night last year. Diamond and her partner said the police broke in their apartment, without identifying themselves. Diamond and her partner fired back and were arrested at which point they found out that they were not the subjects of the incorrectly drawn warrant. Because they tried to defend themselves – they are now in jail. John Zippert, SOS Steering Committee member said, “The case we just heard about in Jacksonville, Florida is a clear reason why we are here today to ask people to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would curtail no-knock warrants and work to get it passed by the Senate and signed by President Biden.” “SOS is also concerned about abuses of criminal justice and prisons in Alabama which the George Floyd Act would help to resolve which is why highlighted these issues at the May 14 rally,” said Zippert.