Connect with us

News

Young women come together to learn and live state government

Bill Britt

Published

on

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Last week young women from across Alabama came together to form friendships and a government of their own.

The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is based on the ideals of a “legacy of leadership, a heritage to honor and a future to form,” said Alabama’s Lt. Governor Kay Ivey. Lt. Governor Ivey, a former Girls State delegate, was ironically elected Lt. Governor of Girls State as a young lady.

Established in 1937, the Girls State program has given nearly one million young people an opportunity to learn first-hand how their state and local government works.

During the week-long program the girls set up their own state government with all the accompanying offices. During the week the young woman are divided into political parties, the Nationalist and the Federalist and conduct election, hold senate and house sessions and pass legislation.

Irene Zhang was elected President Pro Tempore of the Girls State Senate.

Zhang, a senior at Mountain Book High School, said that Girls State was the greatest experience of her life. “This as been the most amazing time of my life. The things I have learned, the people I have met. It has been truly awesome.”

Zhang says that she was looking for a summer activity when her school councilor suggested the program to her. “This has really changed my life, I had no idea,” she said.

Advertisement

Zhang said that one of the most memorable events on the week-long program was a debate held on the floor of the senate concerning an abortion bill that was brought before the legislative body. “It was a very passionate debate with points and counter points in the arguments, made by very bright girls,” said Zhang. “It was an amazing learning experience for everyone.”

According to the program’s director Lee Sellers, the event promotes “learning by doing.”

Mrs. Sellers a former Girls State delegate in 1983 said, “I came to Girls State from a very small school and I was very shy. When I was elected mayor I had no idea what to do, so, I had to pretend that I knew what I was doing.”

Sellers says that pretending led to her gaining great confidence and transformed her into a different person. “When I went back to school I was such a different person. I had a wonderful senior year,” said Sellers. That is the same story we hear from many woman who have attended Girls State.

Sellers says that Girls State brings together young women from every corner of Alabama from the smallest town to the biggest cities. “They make lifelong friends, change lives for the better,” said Sellers. “In many respects these girls represent the best and brightest of our young women and our future leaders. It is an experience of a lifetime.”

During the week the attendees hear from state leadership on a variety of topics related to government.

One of the speakers at this year’s event was former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb. In what may seem like another odd twist of fate, as a young woman Justice Cobb ran for the office of Supreme Court Justice when she attended Girls State. However, she lost the election that time. Justice Cobb spoke at the event right after the primary election where many of the young woman has just lost their own races and where others would soon lose. “It was such an inspiration to have her speak when she did because the girls could see that, you might lose this race at Girls State but it does not mean you don’t have what it takes to come back and win in real life,” said Sellers.

Other speakers at the event were Congresswoman Martha Roby, Congresswoman Terri Sewell via technology, State Treasurer Young Boozer, Alabama Finance Director Marquita Davis, author Susan Baker wife of former US Secretary of State James Baker III, Lt. Governor Kay Ivey and Governor Robert Bentley.

Chandler Shields from Madison was elected Lt. Governor and Tori Parris was elected this year’s Girls State governor.

Both young women said that it was a life-changing event and that they had formed friendships that they would cherish forever.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

Advertisement

Crime

Seven inmates, seven workers test positive for COVID-19

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

The Alabama Department of Corrections on Tuesday said in a statement that seven more prison workers and seven additional inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Four workers and one woman serving at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women all tested positive for coronavirus, according to an ADOC press release. There are 16 confirmed cases among staff at the facility. 

The woman serving at Tutwiler prison continues to be asymptomatic and was tested pre-operation for a scheduled surgery, according to the release, which states she has been moved to “medical isolation” and the dormitory where she was housed has been placed on on level-one quarantine, meaning inmates will be monitored for symptoms and have temperature checks twice daily. 

Other positive test results came back for a worker at Ventress Correctional Facility, another at the Alex City Community Based Facility and Community Work Center and one at the Birmingham Community Based Facility and Community Work Center, according to ADOC. 

Four inmates at the St. Clair Correctional Facility who also tested positive for COVID-19 were living in the same small area within the prison’s infirmary as an inmate who previously tested positive for the virus, according to the release. That living area remains on level-two quarantine, meaning inmates remain there for all daily activities, and the entire infirmary at St. Clair remains on level-one quarantine.

One inmate at the Kilby Correctional Facility and another at the Frank Lee Community Based Facility/Community Work Center also tested positive for  COVID-19. 

The man serving at Kilby prison was housed in the facility’s infirmary, and was transferred to a local hospital after showing symptoms of the virus, where he tested positive, according to ADOC. Kilby’s infirmary has been placed on level-one quarantine.

Advertisement

The inmate at Frank Lee developed symptoms of COVID-19 and was taken to the Staton Correctional Facility to an area under level-two quarantine, where he subsequently tested positive, according to the department. He was then taken to medical isolation at Kilby prison,  and the facility was placed on level-one quarantine. 

There have been 68 confirmed cases among prison workers in the state, while 17 have since been cleared to return to work. 

Ten of the 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates remain active, according to ADOC. As of Monday the state has tested 176 of Alabama’s approximately 22,000 inmates, according to the department.

Continue Reading

News

State files lawsuit against Birmingham for removing Confederate monument

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a new lawsuit against the city of Birmingham Tuesday for removing a Confederate monument in Linn Park.

Local officials in Alabama’s largest city, which has a majority black population, removed a 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in the city’s Linn Park after protestors and demonstrators vandalized it Sunday.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin ordered the monument removed during the waning hours of Jefferson Davis day Monday, a state holiday honoring the Confederate leader.

“This action is a very, very powerful symbol of our city’s desire to move beyond the pain of the past and uniting into the future,” Woodfin said Tuesday, adding that the city would not disclose the monument’s new location due to security concerns and to protect it from further vandalism.

The city paid $1 to remove the monument, Woodfin said, adding that the city council would need to vote on whether to accept public donations to pay off any fines imposed by the state for removing the monument.

One public fundraiser has raised more than $60,000 in a day to support the city in removing the monument.

The monument has been at the center of a years-long legal battle between Alabama’s majority-white, GOP-led Legislature and predominately black local officials in Birmingham.

Advertisement

Marshall filing the lawsuit seeking the $25,000 fine, if imposed, would effectively end the legal showdown over the monument.

“In balancing between the costs of civil unrest versus the costs of a civil fine, I think most would agree with me: the city should pay the cost of that civil fine to make sure that there is not any more unrest in our city,” Woodfin said.

Marshall filed the lawsuit against Birmingham for violating the state’s Memorial Preservation Act, which prohibits the removal of historic monuments including Confederate monuments.

This is the second lawsuit filed by the Alabama attorney general against the city of Birmingham over the Linn Park monument.

The lawsuit seeks additional penalties after the city lost a similar lawsuit filed by the state in 2017.

The Memorial Preservation Act was passed in 2017 by the Alabama Legislature to protect architecturally significant buildings, memorial buildings, memorial streets and monuments located on public property for 40 or more years.

The law effectively prohibited municipalities from removing Confederate monuments.

“The State of Alabama first filed suit against the City of Birmingham in 2017 after the City erected barriers around the monument in Linn Park. In November 2019, the Alabama Supreme Court sided with the State and determined that the City of Birmingham had violated the law and was subject to the Act’s penalties. However, the Court held that any violation of the Act was punishable only by a one-time fine of $25,000 per violation,” Marshall said in a statement.

Woodfin, amid nationwide protests, demonstrations and unrest over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, said he was willing to pay the fine to remove the monument, directing city workers to remove it Monday evening.

Legislation was filed in the 2020 session that would have amended the penalties provision of the act in response to the court’s ruling, but that legislation failed to become law.

“On Monday, I advised Mayor Woodfin that the removal of the 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in Birmingham’s Linn Park would violate the law and that I would fulfill my duty to enforce it,” Marshall said.

Continue Reading

Health

Third patient at state’s Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatric Center dies from COVID-19

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

A third patient at the state’s Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatric Center has died from COVID-19, the Alabama Department of Mental Health confirmed to APR on Tuesday. 

There remained 16 active coronavirus cases among patients at the state-run facility, said ADMH spokeswoman Malissa Valdes-Hubert in a message Tuesday.

Those patients are in various states of recovery, she said. 

Valdes-Hubert also confirmed that the members of the Alabama National Guard are to clean the facility on Thursday. 

Under the direction of Gov. Kay Ivey, the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, members of the Alabama National Guard have since early April decontaminated and sanitized state nursing homes. Guard members also cleaned the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home, which had a serious outbreak of coronavirus, killing more than 20 residents and infecting more than 100. 

Valdes-Hubert said the department is in the process of planning for recovering patients and will release more information when available. 

There were no confirmed cases at ADMH’s two other facilities in Tuscaloosa, Bryce Hospital and the Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility as of Tuesday, Valdes-Hubert said.

Continue Reading

National

Sewell implores Alabamians “to speak out and demand change without violence”

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Alabama U.S. Rep.Terri Sewell said that her heart aches for George Floyd and that anger should be directed not to violence but to action.

“The heroes of the Civil Rights Movement showed us it is possible to change history without damaging property and torching businesses that our community members depend on, so I implore all Alabamians to speak out and demand change without violence,” Sewell said. “We cannot let violence distract from the legitimate anger and frustration that we must channel toward action. I pray for both peace and justice.”

Sewell posted a video message Monday in response to protests across the country, which have at some points, turned violent and chaotic. On Sunday, several reporters were attacked in Birmingham, and some businesses were vandalized.

The representative’s video message comes after Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed also called peaceful demonstration. Birmingham implemented a curfew in response to the riotous demonstrations Sunday evening, but the city also removed a Confederate monument from Linn Park.

“To all those who feel marginalized because of the color of your skin: I see you and I hear you,” Sewell said. “Your pain and hopelessness is legitimate — since the founding of our nation, our criminal justice system has failed our black and brown communities. My heart aches for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless others whose senseless deaths have not made the national news cycle.”

Sewell represents Alabama’s 7th Congressional District and is the only black member of Alabama’s congressional delegation.

“As a daughter of Selma, I myself have struggled to reconcile with the moment in which we continue to find ourselves, over and over,” Sewell said in the video statement. “The Foot Soldiers who came before us fought to create a better future, but every day we are reminded that that fight is far from over. They sacrificed their lives in pursuit of an America that lives up to its ideals – an America that we have not yet reached more than 55 years later.”

Sewell said the racism that causes pain can be seen plainly in police brutality and in the staggering health disparities black communities have endured before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advertisement

“It can be seen in thinly-veiled attempts to put African Americans in our place, holding on to and idolizing a time when our bodies were not our own,” she said. “And it can be seen in the state-sanctioned holidays and monuments that honor the leaders of the Confederacy, including today, ‘Jefferson Davis Day.’”

Sewell said she also knows that the vast majority of Americans across the country and in Birmingham are peacefully protesting for social justice.

“I wish I had all the answers and I could give us all the solutions we need,” Sewell concluded. “For now, I promise that I will work tirelessly to do absolutely everything within my power to bring peace and justice to our communities.”

“My Administration is fully committed that for George and his family, justice will be served,” President Donald Trump said on Monday. “He will not have died in vain. But we cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob.”

Floyd was killed while being arrested by the Minneapolis Police Department on suspicion of counterfeiting. The police officer who killed Floyd has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Activists say more widespread reform of policing and the criminal justice system needs to happen, and the other officers involved in Floyd’s homicide should also be charged.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.