By Win Johnson
In light of the recent resignation announcement of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Glenn Murdock and the pending appointment of a new Justice by Governor Ivey, I present this statement on the 3 types of judges. This writing begins tongue-in-cheek, but it ends deadly serious.
I was driving this morning, when a State Trooper pulled me over and said, “You weren’t driving the speed limit.”
I said, “I was doing 65 mph in a 70 mph zone, Officer.”
He said, “That’s too slow. The number on the speed limit sign is the minimum speed.”
“But that’s never been the case in my experience, Officer.”
“Well, you understand that I’m the one who enforces the law, right? So, I want to see you speeding up when you leave here. Here’s your ticket.”
So, I continued up the interstate and drove over 70 mph. I’d been driving a while, when this same Officer decided to pull me over again. He told me that I was going over the speed limit. When I protested that he had just told me that I was driving too slow earlier and that the number on the sign was the minimum speed, he said, “Well, I now interpret the sign differently. It’s the maximum speed.” So he gave me a ticket. When I told him that I’d like to give back to him the first ticket, he said, “Oh no, that was the law as I interpreted it back then. You’ve got to pay both.”
You recognize that story as a joke, but that’s how our judicial system works in this time, a time devoted to change, not to the law. When change becomes the foundation for law instead of stability, that is what the judges do – change the law. Law is, by definition, stable, predictable. In a time devoted to change, change becomes more important than a stable, predictable legal system, more important than the law itself. God’s law never changes. Departure from that law will always result in a system of change, change that fits man’s sinful desires instead of justice and predictability.
I have some questions for you to place my position on types of judges in context. If a policeman were to pull you over for speeding and demand that you perform a sexual act for that policeman, would you do it? If not, why would you defy a person whom we call “the law?” Would it be because that officer has gone beyond his authority? What if the mayor of Montgomery, AL ordered the taxation of the businesses in Decatur, AL and sent police officers to collect those tax dollars from those businesses? If you were a Decatur business, would you pay the tax? If not, why not? The mayor went beyond his authority? If we’re that clear on where the authority of those officials ends, why not judges.
Today, we have judges serving who in certain, important cases – important to them – have no intention of remaining faithful to the law or the Constitution. They are in the highest places of authority. They are conscienceless and are perfectly willing to violate and defy the Constitution, the law of man, the law of God, even the Judiciary’s own principles of interpretation, originally developed in order to keep the Judiciary from overstepping its boundaries. We are not waiting for the undermining of our constitutional republic. It is already upon us. We are living in a day of tyranny, perhaps a “soft” tyranny, but a tyranny that could become quite hard under the right circumstances.
So what are the three types of judges in our day? (By the way, this writing is in no way meant to reflect negatively upon the career of Justice Glenn Murdock, a dependable Judge whom I know personally and whom I know sought to faithfully follow the Constitution and the rule of law).
There is the liberal judge, who is really no judge at all. This judge simply is waiting for the opportunity to be a legislator. He or she may be a faithful judge in every case until they get to the one they consider so important that they must violate their oath to change the law, to make it in their own image. This is the day they were waiting for – the chance to make their mark, to impress their colleagues, to be feted at parties and written about in law reviews. They may use colorful, creative, even ingenius language in their opinions, but it is all a front to impose their will, their belief, their religion, their perspective, their philosophy on the rest of us.
There is the conservative judge, hopefully an originalist. This judge wants to be faithful to the law, the Constitution, so he or she reads and interprets it as it was originally intended to be interpreted. This judge also recognizes the importance of precedent to the stability of any legal system. This judge believes in the consistent treatment of cases that are similar in law and facts, so this judge follows precedent. The original intent of following precedent was to ensure that justice was consistent, that one party was not treated differently from another because a different judge heard that party’s case at a later time. However, in our day when unfaithfulness to the oath and perversion of the law has become so prevalent – even common – the conservative judge’s commitment to precedent actually makes him or her an accomplice to the crime of undermining our constitutional system of law and justice. And the conservative judge thinks it’s just “unseemly” to make a fuss about another judge’s errant ruling; it makes the entire system appear bad. Never mind the fact that the system is, in fact, bad and getting worse. Precedent has become a lever for changing the law, not keeping it consistent. Following precedent is how liberal judges count on the conservative judges to continue their legacy of perversion of the law and Constitution. The liberal judge turns things upside down, and the conservative judge doesn’t even notice that he’s not flying right side up. That’s how pilots crash at night and in bad weather. They lose their orientation to up and down.
Then there is the Reformational judge. This judge understands what the law is, what the law should be, the limits to a judge’s authority, and points the way back to the true standard, the plumbline governing right & justice for the people, the judicial system, and the entire society. When faced with another judge’s ultra vires (outside-authority) precedent, a presumption to an authority which that judge does not have, the Reformational judge does not follow. There exists no collegial respect, principle of the rule of law, nor constitutional requirement that one judge must follow another judge in that rogue judge’s lawless, presumptuous, personal adoption of judicial tyranny.
– To allege otherwise is to assert that every judge is a sheep, not an official with the discretion, wisdom, and judgment to understand and apply the law that is, but is bound by law to follow the wolves, who would undermine and destroy the very Constitution they claim to uphold.
– To allege otherwise is to assert that every judge is bound by law to become as lawless as the lowest, most reprehensible, oath-breaking judge in the system.
– To allege otherwise is to assert that one public official, a rogue judge, can dictate to a free, democratic people and every other public official, bound by oath to defend and protect the Republic and its Constitution, and command the destruction of the very system meant to protect that people, that Republic, and that Constitution.
In other words, it is a proposition so absurd, so virulently destructive to the rule of law, that one can append the label “traitor” to anyone promoting it. Yet only the reformational judge will oppose it. The reformational judge uses all the power at his or her disposal to oppose such judges, for such judges use the Constitution to destroy the Constitution.
– Rogue judges take an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, yet they become the Constitution’s enemy.
– Rogue judges pretend to follow and promote the Constitution as a “living” document only that they may kill it.
– Rogue judges write long, wordy opinions that mount up to the heavens in majestic language, yet they would use their opinions to pull God Himself from His throne, if they could just come up with the correct, scholarly wording for an opinion proposing it.
Yet, that proposition, my friends, sums up one of the core articles of faith of the present legal system of this country. Every judge, state and federal, must follow the precedent issued by a “higher” court, as if the judicial system were some type of military organization with a strict chain of command. And the highest court of the land, the US Supreme Court, has such power in its opinions that it could – by a vote of 5 to 4 – command the entire nullification of the US Constitution, as long as the opinion could be carefully written to conceal its effect, was “intellectually” defensible, and if a majority of the legal community agreed.
In other words, we are presently living under the rule of lawyers and judges. And not lawyers and judges bound by law, but lawyers and judges unbound from the law, asserting that change is all that matters. For them, no God has issued eternal decrees of right and justice. And no future generation can be bound by the words of men living over 200 years before, i.e., the framers of the Constitution. No law of man or God stops them. For them, only man given to change exists. His purpose? To change the law to fit his particular tastes at the time. And to them, the people are mere sheep, worthless for anything but for tricking into the belief that they actually live in a democratic republic buttressed by the “rule of law.” Their vote is worthless, for they are ignorant sheep. No, bigoted, hateful sheep to whom the legal elite pronounce their law, their new morality, and their new religion – “Whatever We Say the Law Is, That’s What It Is. If you don’t agree, you’re evil.”
For some strange reason, the conservative judge doesn’t think there exists an authority for undoing or reversing such perverse precedent. The liberal judge is all in favor of such change. But the reformational judge finds and adopts every means within his or her power to stop such destruction of the rule of law and calls out the underminers. The reformational judge may be just one, but that one could influence thousands. And if not in that judge’s day, perhaps that judge can lay the foundation for a future generation to rise up and shake off the chains of tyranny and return to the rule of law. A return to truth and integrity in the judiciary.
Opinion | Gov. Ivey: This is our time, Alabama
My fellow Alabamians:
In a few days, America will celebrate her 244th birthday.
Traditionally, many towns and cities around the country light up the night with fireworks and music festivals. In 1776, John Adams predicted that Independence Day would be “celebrated by succeeding generations” with “pomp and circumstance…bonfires and illuminations.”
However, largely because of COVID-19, this year’s observance of our country’s birth will likely be a bit more subdued than previous years. While unfortunate, this is certainly understandable.
Today – and very likely in the days that will follow – instead of talking about what unites us as one nation – other conversations will occur that are, quite frankly, a bit more difficult and challenging.
My personal hope – and prayer – for this year’s 4th of July is that the marvel of our great country – how we started, what we’ve had to overcome, what we’ve accomplished and where we are going – isn’t lost on any of us.
We are all searching for “a more perfect union” during these trying and demanding days.
Over the past several weeks, our nation has been having one of those painful, yet overdue, discussions about the subject of race.
The mere mention of race often makes some people uncomfortable, even though it is a topic that has been around since the beginning of time.
Nationally, a conversation about race brings with it the opportunity where even friends can disagree on solutions; it also can be a catalyst to help total strangers find common ground and see things eye-to-eye with someone they previously did not even know.
Here in Alabama, conversations about race are often set against a backdrop of our state’s long – and at times – ugly history on the subject.
No one can say that America’s history hasn’t had its own share of darkness, pain and suffering.
But with challenge always comes opportunity.
For instance, Montgomery is both the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the cradle of the Confederacy. What a contrast for our Capital City.
The fact is our entire state has, in many ways, played a central role in the ever-evolving story of America and how our wonderful country has, itself, changed and progressed through the years.
Ever since the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, thousands of Alabamians – of all races, young and old – have taken to the streets of our largest cities and smallest towns in protest to demand change and to seek justice.
These frustrations are understandable.
Change often comes too slowly for some and too quickly for others. As only the second female to be elected governor of our state in more than 200 years, I can attest to this.
Most of us recognize that our views on issues such as race relations tend to grow out of our own background and experiences. But, fortunately, our views can change and broaden as we talk and learn from each other.
As a nation, we believe that all people are created equal in their own rights as citizens, but we also know that making this ideal a reality is still a challenge for us.
Even with the election of America’s first African American president 12 years ago, racial, economic and social barriers continue to exist throughout our country. This just happens to be our time in history to ensure we are building on the progress of the past, as we take steps forward on what has proven to be a long, difficult journey.
Folks, the fact is we need to have real discussions – as an Alabama family. No one should be under the false illusion that simply renaming a building or pulling a monument down, in and of itself, will completely fix systemic discrimination.
Back in January, I invited a group of 65 prominent African American leaders – from all throughout Alabama – to meet with me in Montgomery to begin having a dialogue on issues that truly matter to our African American community in this state. This dedicated group – known as Alabama United – is helping to bring some very legitimate concerns and issues to the table for both conversation and action.
As an example, Alabama will continue to support law enforcement that is sensitive to the communities in which they serve. We have thousands of dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our state every single day. But we can – and must – make certain that our state’s policies and procedures reflect the legitimate concerns that many citizens have about these important issues.
I am confident all these conversations – and hopefully many more – will lead to a host of inspirational ideas that will lead to a more informed debate and enactment of sound public policy.
We must develop ways to advance all communities that lack access to good schools, jobs, and other opportunities. As governor, I will continue to make education and achieving a good job a priority – it distresses me that some of our rural areas and inner cities face some of the greatest challenges in education.
There are other critical issues that must be addressed, and I will continue to look for solutions along with you.
Everyone knows government cannot solve these problems alone. Some of the greatest solutions will come from private citizens as well as businesses, higher education, churches and foundations. Together, we can all be a part of supporting and building more inclusive communities.
In other words, solving these problems comes from leaning on the principles that make us who we are – our faith – which is embodied in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
My beliefs on how to treat people were shaped in Wilcox County and my faith was developed at the Camden Baptist Church.
The bible tells us over and over that our number one goal is to love God with all of one’s heart and then to love our neighbor as we love our self. That is what I strive to do every day.
When anyone feels forgotten and marginalized, compassion compels us to embrace, assist and share in their suffering. We must not let race divide us. We must grow and advance together.
Being informed by our past, let us now carefully examine our future and work towards positive change. Together, we can envision an Alabama where all her people truly live up to the greatness within our grasp. We cannot change the past or erase our history… But we can build a future that values the worth of each and every citizen.
So, in closing, my hope and prayer for our country as we pause to celebrate America’s 244th birthday, is that we make the most of this moment.
As for our state, let’s make this a time to heal, to commit ourselves to finding consensus, not conflict, and to show the rest of the nation how far we have come, even as we have further to go.
These first steps – just as we are beginning our third century as a state – may be our most important steps yet.
This is our time, Alabama. May God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama.
Opinion | Our sacred honor
This weekend America will celebrate its 244th birthday. Unfortunately, we do so in a time of a pandemic, a struggling economy, and violent protests. But, it’s still our birthday, and we should both commemorate and celebrate it.
We usually do a good job in our celebration, although this year will be different since social distancing means we’ll be in smaller groups and public fireworks displays have been cancelled. I suspect most of us will find a way to gather with family and close friends to cook out and show the red, white, and blue.
But, a commemoration is more than that. Merriam-Webster defines “commemorate” as “to call to remembrance” or “to serve as a memorial of.” How many of us will stop and remember what it meant for the Second Continental Congress to not only declare our independence from Britain but also to state our reasons for doing so in majestic language positing the highest ideals?
Let me make a suggestion. This Fourth, get a copy of the Declaration and read it. My extended family and friends usually get together and have several of us read the various portions of the Declaration out loud and talk about its meaning. It doesn’t take much time and we always experience a renewed appreciation for the gift that is our country. This year we will do it virtually, in smaller groups.
The Declaration was meant to be read out loud. Indeed, on July 4, Congress not only voted to accept it but also provided for its distribution to the states and the Continental Army. On July 6, John Hancock, as President of Congress, sent letters to the states and to General Washington enclosing broadsides of the Declaration requesting that they have it “proclaimed.” It was read out loud to celebrations in dozens of cities and towns in July and August, and to the Continental Army on July 9 as it prepared for the British Invasion of New York.
To some extent these events were meant to inform and inspire the people of a newly independent nation. But then, and now, the Declaration is a defining document. It not only said we were an independent nation but also who we aspired to be. Freedom and equality were to be at the heart of the nation’s character. And the rights stated in the Declaration—life liberty and the pursuit of happiness—are clearly labeled gifts from God himself to all of us.
The story of our country is really the unfolding of the efforts to live up to these aspirations. President Lincoln used it as a primary basis for arguing against slavery, as in the Gettysburg Address where he famously said, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” As a result of the Civil War these ideals were enshrined in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
Martin Luther King used it in his 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech, referring to the Declaration and the Constitution as a promissory note to all Americans which he and others in the Civil Rights Movement called upon the nation to honor. As a result of the Movement, Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act.
I know it is fashionable now among our nation’s elites to view America as evil from our birth, evil in our institutions, and evil in our character. That view is a myth, untethered to the reality of our history. This myth is just a false preamble to lay the groundwork for their efforts to radically reorganize our society and have government run every detail of our lives, all the while piling tax upon tax on us. Isn’t this type of government what caused the founders to declare independence in the first place? These elites call themselves “progressive,” but their plan is actually a regression to a tyrannical central government taxing us against our will.
Despite our faults, some of which have been grievous, we are a nation established upon the highest ideals and which has the strength of its character and institutions to self-correct as we strive toward those ideals. Our history repeatedly demonstrates that is who we are.
David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian, several years ago told a gathering of those of us in Congress that Americans would be more hopeful if we only knew our history. How true. Complicated and contradictory, yes, but it is also a history of spectacular success and of a major force for good, here and abroad.
So, this week let’s celebrate and commemorate who we are. Let’s pause in the middle of our present troubles to renew our pride as Americans and draw lessons from our founding and history for the resolution of the issues of the day. And let us, like our founders, “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
Opinion | Descendants of Emma Sansom call for monument’s removal
We are descendants of Emma Sansom’s family and current or former members of the Gadsden community. We add our voices to the call to remove the statue at the head of Broad Street commemorating Sansom and Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The monument was erected to enforce white supremacy in Gadsden, which we abhor and lament. The only defensible action today is to remove the statue.
Our community may have forgotten why this statue and others like it were erected. We must remember why in order to take wise action.
According to the Auburn University-supported Encyclopedia of Alabama: “Emma Sansom (1847-1900) played a heroic role in the Civil War, when as a teenager she led Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest across Black Creek in northern Alabama to capture Union colonel Abel D. Streight and his raiders in 1863.”
Sansom thus guided to victory the man who would become the first leader of the Ku Klux Klan as the United States struggled to establish a multiracial democracy.
Support of the Confederacy and white supremacy cannot be separated given the historical reality: an oligarchy of less than 400,000 enslavers brought about secession and war to guard their “property rights” over enslaved Black people. Alabama’s secession ordinance in January 1861 foregrounded the hope to “meet the slaveholding States of the South” and set up a new government. Cherokee County — which Gadsden was a part of in 1861 — voted against secession in that convention, as did St. Clair County and most northern Alabama counties.
This division among the white ruling class was an early sign of Confederate disunity as many Southerners resisted the Confederate project throughout the war. Thousands of Alabamians enlisted in the Union Army, mostly from northern Alabama where slavery was entrenched but less centralized than in the lower Alabama “black belt.”
Decades after Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, the “Lost Cause” came into existence. The Lost Cause refers to the myth that a unified South fought for a heroic and noble civilization doomed by fate and the ahistorical “aggression” of the North. The elements that make up the Lost Cause draw from writings by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and by Confederate General Jubal Early in the 1870s and 1880s. They revised the history of secession and war to distance the Confederacy from slavery, focusing instead on antebellum South
Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun’s “states’ rights” philosophy — itself a platform to justify Calhoun’s support of what he called the “positive good” of slavery.
The purpose of the Lost Cause was to justify the enslaving oligarchy’s motives and mission in the minds of white Southerners, most of whom did not own slaves. Its cult conducts an enduring counter-revolution to deny Black people full citizenship to this day.
The legacy of the enslaving power is violence against Black people up to now. That violence includes the KKK’s multiple incarnations, the Jim Crow regime, thousands of lynchings, and repression against Black people struggling for civil rights. Today there are crosses burning in Alabama in reaction against the Black Lives Matter movement. The Lost Cause is not just a shameful past wound, its adherents oppress Black people in America to this day.
What motivated the white people of Gadsden to erect this monument to Sansom and Forrest is just one part of a larger project to retrench white rule and eliminate Black political freedom.
After federally-directed Reconstruction ended in 1877, the white ruling class regained political control of the Southern states. Democratic Party “Redeemer” governments passed Jim Crow laws segregating Blacks. The US Supreme Court decision Plessy v Ferguson in 1896 upheld Jim Crow segregation. From 1890 to 1908, almost every post-Confederate state including Alabama adopted a new constitution that disenfranchised the Black population.
The wave of post-Confederate activity was a direct cultural outgrowth of the repression wrought by Southern states against Black people as the Lost Cause cult took hold. This period birthed the “Dunning School” of historical thought that condemned Reconstruction as a corrupt mistake, a view modern historian Eric Foner calls “part of the edifice of the Jim Crow system.”
The United Daughters of the Confederacy, founded in 1894, was the most prolific organization building Lost Cause monuments. They also enlisted upper- and middle-class white youth and cultural institutions to carry the flame of the Lost Cause through highly influential educational campaigns including endorsing a book that lionized the Ku Klux Klan.
The year 1900, when various post-Confederate groups had their first national convention, began a massive wave of Confederate monument construction on government and publicly accessible property. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified 403 unique monuments constructed to the Lost Cause from 1900 to 1919, over half of all such monuments standing today.
In 1907, forty-four years after the Black Creek crossing, the Gadsden chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy put up the statue of Emma Sansom and Nathan Bedford Forrest overlooking the Coosa River. The Etowah County commissioners court, which today is the Etowah County Commission, also got the Alabama state Legislature to fund the statue. Public money paid for the establishment of this monument and the public must be involved in its disestablishment. This is not a private matter.
We should remember that the City of Gadsden’s establishment of this statue was only accountable to the white citizenry. Black people were unable to vote and enjoy representation during this time due to Jim Crow. It was not a unified city building this monument, but a segregated racial class directed by the torch-bearers of the Lost Cause. Viewing these statues in the context of history, it is clear that their purpose is domination of Black Americans struggling to secure their liberation.
The Sansom and Forrest statue is inextricable from the enslaving power and its twisted descendant ideologies. The statue’s base honorably depicts the man who oversaw the massacre of primarily Black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow which has been called “one of the bleakest, saddest events in American military history.” The public celebration of Forrest’s legacy is shameful, and Emma Sansom’s aid to his cause cannot be separated from its consequences. They supported enslavers against the liberation of millions of Black people.
The McNeel Marble Company of Georgia, which built the statue, clearly stated what it was selling in a Confederate Veteran article for its statues proclaiming “SUPREMACY.” The statue is not a contemporary historical marker; nor is it supposed to be a genuine likeness of Emma Sansom. Rather, the statue is a political provocation built only six years after Alabama’s constitutional change shifted the Jim Crow regime into overdrive. Its purpose has not faded. The statue’s memorial of Forrest and Sansom in 1907 is akin to erecting a statue to segregationist Birmingham leader Bull Connor today, a man who attacked civil rights protesters including children with dogs, fire hoses, and mass arrest in the early 1960s.
These monuments do harm lasting for generations when we forget the underlying causes of division and inequality in society. The roots of Black peoples’ oppression today have a lot to do with the erection and maintenance of that statue, as does the relatively wealthier position of white people in our community. To achieve justice, we must remember and then act in solidarity.
The multiracial movement calling for change in Gadsden is made up of our neighbors. They are not “outside agitators.” They have to live with the Lost Cause’s weight every day—as we all do.
Some white people in Gadsden say they feel a connection to this statue as part of their heritage, and consider the statue part of the fabric of their home. Our Black neighbors are making it clear that they agree, and that is exactly why they need to see change in our community. We want to live in a harmonious democratic society where all can live free of intimidation.
Many people who feel pride about Emma Sansom discuss “division” about the statue like it is a new phenomenon. The outcry against the statue is the voice of an awakened community. They understand that it is time to address the focal points of what has really caused a division in our community for over a hundred years. It only seems like a new “division” to those of us who benefit the most from the “normal” status quo.
We ask those who may feel a sense of pride about the statue to examine if most of their Black neighbors feel the same pride. You may say you are not personally racist and have good deeds to prove it. The statue’s effect in Gadsden is not about anyone’s personal feelings or failings – it is a feature of the systemic oppression that acts to this day against the freedom of Black people.
Gadsden’s population today is more than one-third Black people. What are we doing with a monument that celebrates an achievement meant to keep a third of our neighbors in bondage?
Think beyond your personal experience and towards the whole of the Gadsden community. Can we fulfill our potential as a beloved community if more than one-third of our neighbors are daily reminded that the town celebrates a time when their relatives were enslaved? Removing the statue will take a weight off our backs that we may have never recognized.
The debate that considers these statues as “history” today speaks to the success of the Lost Cause’s cultural hegemony. Yes, we must remember – a history never to repeat. Gadsden does not have to celebrate a man who led the perpetrators of racist terror. We can leave the Lost Cause behind, beginning by removing its symbols that haunt us.
Look to the heartening installation of a memorial four years ago to the memory of Black Gadsdenite Bunk Richardson. In Feburary 1906, Richardson was framed for the rape and murder of a white woman, taken from the Etowah County jail and lynched by a mob of 25 masked men.
This act of racist injustice happened the same year the UDC commissioned the statue of Sansom and Forrest on Broad Street. Identifying and commemorating the victims of injustice is a necessary part of making justice possible, and we can all do it together. Those are the kinds of memorials we need in Gadsden.
We can remove this statue just like other Alabama cities are doing. This month, the mayors of Birmingham and Mobile authorized and executed the removal of Lost Cause statues. The University of Alabama Board of Trustees and the Madison County Commission voted to remove Confederate memorials in recent weeks. The Gadsden community’s task is neither impossible, nor a logistical challenge. It is time to make the moral choice – no more Lost Cause in Gadsden.
What does it look like to tell the story of Gadsden that points us towards justice and away from racialized domination? If the statue of Sansom and Forrest remains standing somewhere when removed from public view, it needs context showing that it celebrates the cause of human enslavement – and that today we want to build a society of liberation for all people.
If we are silent, we are complicit in the ongoing injustice against Black people. As Emma Sansom’s nieces and nephews, the best first step we can take to abolish the stain of white supremacy in Gadsden is to remove this symbol of the enslaving power that once ruled this land. We can eliminate the source of division and fulfill the American promise of a democracy full of equal participants.
We are encouraged by the multiracial makeup of both the BLM protesters and the City Council members calling for the statue of Sansom and Forrest to be moved. The movement calling to take the statue down has already made progress in eliminating racial division by standing together. We stand with them. The promise of a democratic society, where all are created equal, lies after the statue’s shadow over Broad Street has faded. Remove the statue, and let’s get to work on building a beloved community in Gadsden and in the United States.
- Donald Rhea
- William Henry Rhea III
- Marie Rhea Singleton
- Richard Rhea
- Kelvin Knight
- Leigh Ann Rhea
- Nina Ellen Rhea
- Anna Rhea Knight Hopkins
- Karen Lynn Knight Craft
- Preston Rhea
- Holly Rhea Hanks
- Laney Rhea Eskridge
- William Henry Rhea IV
Opinion | How sportsmen and women set an example in the age of social distancing
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in many changes that require us all to adjust. Phrases like “self-quarantine” and “social distancing,” which were rarely used or completely unheard of several months ago, are now a part of our daily vocabulary. As we adjust to this “new normal,” America’s sportsmen and women, a group that I am proud to represent as a member of the Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, have found a way to pursue their outdoor passions while much of the world seemingly stood still. By participating in outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, sportsmen and women are setting an example for those looking for safe and responsible recreational opportunities.
While millions of Americans have been forced to limit their travels due to mandatory stay-at-home orders, activities like hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and many other outdoor activities have provided an outlet for Americans to safely recreate as they can be enjoyed while practicing social distancing and adhering to other COVID-19 safety guidelines. As restrictions start to ease, Americans are flocking to the woods, waters, fields, and trails to take advantage of our outdoor resources, with many discovering nature’s wonders for the first time.
This newfound interest in outdoor recreation represents an invaluable opportunity to introduce American’s to activities like hunting and fishing and the vital role sportsmen and women play in conservation. In addition to the numerous documented mental and physical health benefits gained through these activities, maintaining access to hunting and fishing opportunities gives Americans a chance to procure their own locally-sourced meat. Due to many of the impacts of COVID-19, this ability to be self-reliant is at a premium. With all of this in mind, these unprecedented times represent a chance for a new generation of sportsmen and women to discover the passion that many of us already share. Be it through scouting for upcoming fall hunting seasons, or landing that first largemouth bass, now is the time to lead by example and plant the seeds for the next generation of sportsmen and women.
Increased participation in hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting has enormous conservation benefits as well through the American System of Conservation Funding. This “user pays-public benefits” approach relies on the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, and motorboat fuel to fund many state fish and wildlife management agencies. In addition, these activities support local economies which, during these unprecedented times, has become incredibly important. In fact, recent surveys report that Alabama’s 948,000 hunters and anglers spent $1.9 billion while pursuing their outdoor passions.
Unfortunately, the ability of America’s sportsmen and women to participate in their outdoor endeavors were not uniformly protected as statewide orders were announced. In fact, several states saw actions that hindered or even eliminated the ability to participate in our treasured outdoor traditions. While largely enacted in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, these actions severely limited our outdoor opportunities without any measurable increase in public safety. To ensure that such restrictive actions are not used again, it is up to sportsmen and women to practice responsible recreation, showing by example that our outdoor pursuits can be performed safely. This can be accomplished by following a few simple guidelines.
To learn more about how others are using these challenging times as an opportunity to spend more time outdoors, search for #ResponsibleRecreation on social media. Likewise, for more information on recreating responsibly, or to take the Responsible Recreation pledge and help lead by example, visit www.responsible-recreation.org.
State Rep. Danny Crawford of Athens represents Distict 5, which includes portions of Limestone County, in the Alabama House and serves as the chair of the Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Opinion | Gov. Ivey: This is our time, Alabama
Tallassee mayor endorses Jeff Coleman
Opinion | Somebody, please, take the lead
Sewell votes in favor of $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan
Alabama Republican Assembly endorses Barry Moore
Aderholt honors Jack Thompson
U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses Jerry Carl
Secretaries of state share joint statement on importance of USMCA launch
“We can’t handle much more”: Doctors sound alarm as COVID-19 surges in Alabama
Alabama Democrats call for Rep. Will Dismukes to resign over support for Confederacy
Analysis | There’s a better plan for reopening schools — if Alabama leaders will use it
Alabama reports third day of record-setting COVID-19 numbers
Auburn students who attended gatherings, bar worker test positive for COVID-19
ICU bed use, COVID-19 hospitalizations reach new highs in Alabama
Opinion | Alabama leaders’ plan to reopen schools really isn’t a plan at all
Six inmates at Kilby prison die from illnesses in less than two weeks
Education2 days ago
Analysis | There’s a better plan for reopening schools — if Alabama leaders will use it
Health3 days ago
Opinion | Alabama leaders’ plan to reopen schools really isn’t a plan at all
Health5 days ago
Alabama breaks 7- and 14-day averages for new cases on Saturday
Courts2 days ago
How qualified immunity affected an Alabama man shot five times during a police sting