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Today is Robert E. Lee’s birthday

Brandon Moseley

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Monday, January 21, 2019, is a state holiday and is celebrated across the state of Alabama as General Robert E. Lee’s birthday.

The Virginian commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the War Between the States.

Lee was born on January 19, 1807 the son of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III and Ann Hill Carter. Lee’s ancestor, Richard Lee, immigrated to Virginia from Shropshire, England in 1640 with the First Royal Governor Sir Richard Wyatt when the population of Virginia was approximately 8,000. Wyatt appointed Richard Lee as a court clerk. From there he rose to Attorney General, a member of the House of Burgesses, high sheriff, Virginia Militia Colonel, and a member of the Council of State. Subsequent generations of Lees excelled in political and military affairs in Virginia. Two of Robert E. Lee’s cousins were signers of the Declaration of Independence and one was President of Congress under the Articles of Confederation. There were Lee family members as leaders in both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist camps on ratifying the Constitution.

Robert E. Lee was born in the luxurious historic Stratford Hall Plantation, which his father General Henry “Light horse Harry” Lee III had inherited from his first wife and cousin, Matilda Lee. The senior Lee had served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the American Revolution where he mastered both cavalry and guerilla tactics, before guerilla tactics were even known as such. After the British surrender at Yorktown he resigned his commission and served in the Continental Congress; three terms in the Virginia House of Delegates; three one year terms as Governor of Virginia; in the U.S. House of Representatives; and was summoned by President George Washington to serve as a general in the Whiskey Rebellion, recommissioned a Major General in the U.S. Army by President John Adams (F) when war with France appeared imminent, and by President Thomas Jefferson (D) when war with Great Britain appeared likely. Congress asked him to deliver the official eulogy for President George Washington. By the time of Robert E. Lee’s birth however the boldness that had served Light Horse so well in the Revolution as a cavalry officer and later as a politician failed him in real estate speculation. In 1809 the senior General Lee was imprisoned in a 9’ x 12’ cell in debtor’s prison where he wrote his memoirs on the southern campaign of the Revolution. After getting out of prison in 1811, he moved the family from Stratford to Alexandria. In 1812 he was savagely beaten by a mob in Baltimore defending a friend and freedom of the press. He never fully recovered from those injuries and died in Georgia at the home of his friend and wartime commanding officer General Nathaniel Greene in 1818 when Robert E. Lee was just 11. Henry had nine children; but the eighth, whom he only mentioned once in his letters, would become the greater legend.

Robert E. Lee’s older half brother Henry Lee IV lost Stratford after being sued by creditors, most notably a judgement for mishandling his teen sister-in-law Betsey McCarty’s inheritance and having an affair with the girl. Nicknamed “Black Horse Harry” after the affair, the scandal was a costly embarrassment to the family and Henry IV died in exile in Paris in 1837.

By the time Robert E. Lee was ready to attend college in 1825, securing an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was the only option as the family had no money left. Robert E. Lee finished second in his class and did not receive one demerit in his four years there. He then embarked on a lifetime of military service.

Robert married childhood friend Mary Ann Randolph Custis in 1831. Her father was Martha Washington’s grandson and George Washington’s adopted grandson. Arlington was her family estate. They had four children. Lee, an engineer, spent much of his early military career designing, building, and improving military fortifications. From 1834 to 1837 he served as an assistant to the Chief Engineer of the Army. He was promoted to captain in 1838. In 1846 he was ordered to Mexico in the Mexican-American War. There his abilities were recognized by General Winfield Scott and he became a member of the General’s staff in the War. Lee reluctantly accepted the assignment as the Superintendent of West Point from 1852 to 1855. The cadets he trained there would become key officers on both sides of the Civil War. In April 1855 Lieutenant Colonel Lee left the Engineers Corps when he was given a promotion to second in command of the U.S. Second Cavalry where he fought Indians in Texas from 1855 to 1859. In October 1859, while Lee was back home at Arlington, the radical abolitionist, John Brown led a force of 21 abolitionists who seized the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in order to launch a slave revolt. President James Buchanan (D) gave Lee command of a hastily assembled force of soldiers, militia, and Marines to respond to the crisis. Lee quickly defeated Brown and rescued the hostages in just three minutes of fighting. John Brown’s raid failed to incite a slave insurrection; but it greatly heightened the tension between North and South. In February 1860 the Army gave Lieutenant Colonel Lee command of U.S. forces in Texas, where he negotiated an agreement with the Mexican government that they would restrain Mexican rancher Juan Cortina from leading paramilitary raids into Texas, ending the First Cortina War. When Texas seceded from the Union in February 1861, Lee’s commanding officer General E. Twiggs surrendered Lee and all 4,000 U.S. troops there to the Confederacy. Lee then returned home.

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The Commander of the U.S. Army General Scott told President Abraham Lincoln (R) that he needed Lee. Lee ignored an offer of a command from the new Confederate State of America. On March 28, 1861 Lee accepted a promotion to Colonel and was given command of the U.S. First Cavalry by Pres. Lincoln (R). On April 12, 1861 Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. On April 17, a Second Virginia convention on secession voted in favor of secession. On April 18th, with Civil War now a reality, on April 18 a presidential advisor offered Lee a “major command in defense of the U.S. Capitol.” Lee said that he could not raise his sword against his native Virginia. On April 20 Lee resigned his position in the U.S. Army. His mentor, General Scott, told him that he had made the greatest mistake of his life. Lee accepted an invitation to speak to the Virginia convention on secession. Before he got there, they voted to give him command of all Virginia forces. When he arrived at the convention they presented him with George Washington’s sword and the command on April 23, 1861.

Lee began assembling and training Virginia’s army, while advising President Jefferson Davis C.S.A. Lee correctly predicted a long, bloody, disastrous war……a minority and unpopular opinion among the Confederate leadership at the time. When the CSA Army was organized, Lee was one of five full generals along with: Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnston, and Pierre G.T. Beauregard, with Lee being third in seniority.

In his first action of the war, in September 1861 Lee tried to dislodge a Union force from their position on Cheat Mountain in what is today West Virginia and failed in the effort. Lee was heavily criticized for his conduct of the campaign and was reassigned to improving the coast defenses of South Carolina and Georgia. There Lee lost Fort Pulaski to Union forces, but prevented a larger Union force from taking Savannah. Lee was widely criticized for the mixed results and was then appointed as military advisor to President Davis.

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In the Spring of 1862 the powerful Union Army of the Potomac under General George McClellan began making a methodical and concerted drive toward the Confederate Capitol of Richmond. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston. General Johnston however was wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862. With the South teetering on the brink of losing the War between the States, Davis gave Lee the command. The move was widely condemned by Southern editorial writers who felt Lee was not dynamic enough. After digging in around Richmond for three weeks for what everyone was expected to be a long siege, Lee unexpectedly launched a series of savage counter attacks against the superior Union force. Confederate casualties were enormous; but McClellan, misjudging the size of the opposing Confederate force, gave up his effort to take Richmond and ordered a hasty retreat 25 miles away to the James River. The Peninsula Campaign was a Confederate victory that arguably should never have happened.

On August 28-30 Lee defeated a much larger second Union force under General John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run. In just nine weeks time, the front had moved from just six miles from Richmond to 20 miles from Washington D.C.

Lee then invaded Maryland. McClellan captured the Confederate plans so his 87,138 troops met the Confederate invasion force of 38,000 near Sharpsburg, just 70 miles North of Washington. Along Antietam Creek, 23,000 Americans died on both sides on the day of April 17, 1862. Because the South withdrew back to Virginia and Washington was saved, the battle was a tactical Union victory; but Lincoln’s dream of winning a quick decisive victory were dashed by the events of those 90 days.

Because Lee had escaped, Lincoln replaced McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac with General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside attacked Fredericksburg, Virginia; however after he crossed the Rappahannock River he was unable to dislodge Lee from his prepared positions. 122,009 troops with the Army of the Potomac were repulsed by 78,513 Confederates under Lee. Burnside withdrew after taking over 12,000 casualties on December 15, 1862.

In May 1863, the Army of the Potomac under General Joseph Hooker forced battle with Lee at Chancellorsville. They were thoroughly routed even though Hooker had 133,868 men to Lee’s 60,298. It was Lee’s finest victory. Afterwards, the New York Tribune’s Horace Greeley wrote, “My God! It is horrible—horrible; and to think of it, 130,000 magnificent soldiers so cut to pieces by less than 60,000 half-starved ragamuffins!” Lt. General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, who commanded Second Corps (and was arguably Lee’s most capable commander) died from his wounds at Chancellorsville.

In June 1863, Lee invaded the north again. Hooker moved to ignore Lee and move on Richmond; but Lincoln overruled that decision. General George Meade met Lee at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July. After three days of intense fighting that produced over 48,000 combined casualties, Lee was forced to withdraw although he withdrew in good order with only limited efforts at pursuit by Meade. Worse the decision to gamble everything on the invasion meant that the Confederacy failed to devote enough resources to break through to relieve Vicksburg, Mississippi which fell to General Ulysses S. Grant while Lee was battling Meade at Gettysburg. The west was now cut off from the rest of the South. Realizing the extent of the debacle, Lee offered his resignation to Davis; but Davis refused it.

In October 1863 Lee and Meade clashed again in the Bristow Campaign; but there was no decisive outcome. On November 27 Meade attempted to cut off Ewell’s Second Corps; but the planned forced march was too slow so Lee was able to react and fend off the effort in the five day battle.

On May 5-7, 1864 Lee fought Grant’s much larger force in the Battle of the Wilderness. On May 8-21 Lee engaged Grant and Meade again in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. The Union force was much bigger; but Lee simply could not be outflanked even with superior force. The Confederate Cavalry commander, Major General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart was killed on May 11 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern. As the furious fighting deeper into Confederate territory continued, the Union force in the field grew smaller and the Confederate force grew larger with reinforcements. By the Battle of North Anna River on May 23-26 Grant had 68,000 (down from 130,000 three weeks earlier) to Lee’s 53,000. More battles followed through June 24 as Grant sought to outflank Lee in the campaign culminating in a Confederate Victory at the Battle of Cold Harbor from May 31 to June 12 with the heaviest fighting on June 3 and Grant’s decision to order a frontal assault of his II Corps that was comparably as futile and bloody as Pickett’s Charge for the Confederates at Gettysburg. After two months of intense fighting in the Wilderness/Overland campaign Grant had lost 7 ,621 troops, 38,339 were wounded, and 8,966 were captured or missing. Lee had lost 4,352, 19,130 were wounded, and 10,164 were captured or missing; but the South could not replace those losses.

In June the siege of Petersburgh, Virginia began. The two armies would fight trench warfare, presaging World War I through April 1865.

As part of the Siege of Petersburgh, on July 30, 1864 General Burnside’s IX Corps mined under the Confederate defenses and exploded the mine. In the Battle of the Crater Burnside’s force tried to rush through the breach; but were ultimately repulsed by Lee.

On August 4, 1864 Lee repulsed an effort by Major General Winfield Scott Hancock to break through Confederate lines to Richmond.

On February 9, 1865 Lee was made Commander-in-Chief of all Confederate forces.

On April 2, 1865 the decimated Confederate force retreated from their lines around Petersburg. On April 3 Richmond fell. Lee was seeking to march his army south to join General Johnston’s when his battered army was finally surrounded on April 9, 1865, by General Grant’s Army of the Potomac. General Lee chose to surrender at Appomattox Courthouse rather than fighting to the death.

Lee broke the news to his troops with this address:

“I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.”

“By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from a consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessings and protection.”

“With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.”

Lee returned home from the war on parole. He was indicted for insurrection, but never brought to trial. His beloved Arlington estate was seized by federal authorities and turned into America’s premiere military cemetery during the war. The family would not be compensated until years after Lee’s death. Lee applied for a pardon, but that was “lost” until 1975. In August 1865 Lee was elected the president of Washington College in Virginia – now known as Washington and Lee University. He accepted an invitation to visit President Grant (R) in the White House. He died on October 12, 1870 in Lexington, Virginia.

Lee’s birthday is a state holiday. It and Martin Luther King Day are celebrated on the same day.

Some in the civil rights community object to the state honoring Lee with a state holiday.

Wikipedia and the Stratford Hall website were consulted for this article.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Health

Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases continue rise

Average daily hospitalizations continue an ongoing increase as cases nationwide surge.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Alabama hit 863 on Wednesday, the highest daily count since Sept 4, as average daily hospitalizations continue a steady increase and cases nationwide surge.

UAB Hospital in Birmingham on Wednesday was caring for 72 COVID-19 inpatients — the highest number the hospital has cared for since Aug. 21. 

In the last two weeks, Alabama has reported an increase of 15,089 new COVID-19 cases, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health and APR‘s calculations.

That number is the largest increase over a 14-day period since the two weeks ending Sept. 9. On average, the state has reported 1,078 new cases per day over the last two weeks, the highest 14-day average since Sept. 9.

The state reported 1,390 new confirmed and probable cases Thursday. Over the last week, the state has reported 7,902 cases, the most in a seven-day period since the week ending Sept. 5. That’s an average of 1,129 cases per day over the last seven days.

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Alabama’s positivity rate, based on 14-day case and test increases, was nearly 16 percent Thursday, the highest that rate has been since mid-September.

Public health experts say the positivity rate, which measures the number of positive cases as a percentage of total tests, needs to be at or below 5 percent. Any higher, and experts say there’s not enough testing and cases are likely to be going undetected. 

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“I really won’t feel comfortable until we’re down to about 3 percent,” said Dr. Karen Landers, the state’s assistant health officer, speaking to APR last week

While new daily cases are beginning an upward trajectory, the number of tests administered statewide is not, contributing to the increasing positivity rate. The 14-day average of tests per day on Thursday was 6,856 — a nearly 10 percent decrease from two weeks prior. 

Over the last two weeks, ADPH reported 206 new COVID-19 deaths statewide, amounting to an average of 15 deaths per day over the last 14 days.

So far during the month of October, ADPH has reported 303 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. In September, the total was 373. Since March, at least 2,843 people have died from the coronavirus.

The number of new cases nationwide appear to be headed toward a new high, according to data gathered by the COVID Tracking Project. The United States is now reporting nearly 60,000 cases per day based on a seven-day average. At least 213,672 Americans have died, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

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Courts

U.S. Supreme Court rules Alabama can ban curbside voting

“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, allowed Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to ban curbside voting, staying a district court injunction that had allowed some counties to offer curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Supreme Court’s majority in its order declined to write an opinion, but Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor’s five-page dissent is included.

The lawsuit — filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program — was brought on behalf of several older Alabamians with underlying medical conditions.

“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote. 

Sotomayor, who wrote the dissent, closed using the words of one of the plaintiffs in the case. 

“Plaintiff Howard Porter Jr., a Black man in his seventies with asthma and Parkinson’s disease, told the District Court, ‘[So] many of my [ancestors] even died to vote. And while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that – We’re past that time,’” Sotomayor wrote. 

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Wednesday applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. 

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“I am proud to report the U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked a lower court’s order allowing the fraudulent practice of curbside voting in the State of Alabama,” Merrill said in a statement. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked diligently with local election officials in all 67 counties to offer safe and secure voting methods – including through the in-person and mail-in processes. I am glad the Supreme Court has recognized our actions to expand absentee voting, while also maintaining the safeguards put into place by the state Legislature.”

“The fact that we have already shattered voter participation records with the election still being 13 days away is proof that our current voting options are easy, efficient, and accessible for all of Alabama’s voters,” Merrill continued. “Tonight’s ruling in favor of election integrity and security is once again a win for the people of Alabama.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, expressed frustration after the ruling in a tweet.

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“Another devastating loss for voters and a blow for our team fighting to ensure safe voting for Black and disabled voters in Alabama. With no explanation, the SCOTUS allows Alabama to continue making it as hard as possible for COVID-vulnerable voters,” Ifill wrote.

Curbside voting is not explicitly banned by state law in Alabama, but Merrill has argued that because the practice is not addressed in the law, he believes it to be illegal. 

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 order ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand. 

In his Sept. 30 ruling, Kallon wrote that “the plaintiffs have proved that their fears are justified” and the voting provisions challenged in the lawsuit “unduly burden the fundamental Constitutional rights of Alabama’s most vulnerable voters and violate federal laws designed to protect America’s most marginalized citizens.”

Caren Short, SPLC’s senior staff attorney, in a statement said the Supreme Court’s decision has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable Alabamians.

“Once again, the Supreme Court’s ‘shadow docket’ – where orders are issued without written explanation – has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable citizens amidst a once-in-a-century public health crisis. After a two-week trial, a federal judge allowed counties in Alabama to implement curbside voting so that high-risk voters could avoid crowded polling locations,” Short said. “Tonight’s order prevents Alabama counties from even making that decision for themselves. Already common in states across the South and the country before 2020, curbside voting is a practice now encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It should be a no-brainer to implement everywhere during a pandemic; the Alabama Secretary of State unfortunately disagrees, as does the Supreme Court of the United States.”

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Education

SPLC files complaints in Pike County over suspension of two Black students

Both complaints, filed in Pike County Juvenile Court, ask the court to reverse suspensions of RaQuan Martin and Dakarai Pelton, both Black and former students at Goshen High School. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday filed two complaints with an Alabama juvenile court alleging the Pike County Board of Education arbitrarily suspended two students in violation of their due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. 

“Students across Alabama continue to be excluded from school without regard for their due process rights, leading to unwarranted and unlawful suspensions and expulsions,” said Michael Tafelski, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC’s children’s rights project, in a statement. 

“This is particularly troubling for Black students who are three times more likely to be excluded from school for minor and subjective infractions than their white peers. Education is an important aspect of a young person’s life and the decision to exclude them from school should not be taken lightly,” Tafelski continued. 

Both complaints, filed in Pike County Juvenile Court, ask the court to reverse suspensions of RaQuan Martin and Dakarai Pelton, both Black and former students at Goshen High School. 

The complaints state that on Nov. 22, 2019, both students were approached by the school’s principal “in connection with alleged rumors that a group of students had ‘smoked’ that same day in the parking lot at school.” The principal alleged he had video security footage of them doing so, but wouldn’t show the students the footage, according to the complaints. 

Both boys told the principal that they had not used marijuana, but had both accompanied another student to their car in the parking lot, and both left when the other student showed them what appeared to be drug paraphernalia.

“The students, both seniors at the time, denied the allegations and even took drug tests that showed they had no drugs in their system that day. But the school refused to consider this evidence,” the SPLC said in a press release. 

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The complaints state that the district failed to provide the students proper notice, including details about their charges, evidence of wrongdoing, a meaningful opportunity to be heard or to present evidence of their own and question witnesses during their hearings. 

“Only you know what did or didn’t happen in that vehicle … you dodged a bullet here because we didn’t have the proof that we need,” said one school board member to one of the students during his hearing, according to the complaint. 

“There was no proper investigation at all,” said Shatarra Pelton, Dakarai’s mother, in a statement. “It was unorganized and overblown. The school was unable to produce any evidence other than hearsay.” 

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After a brief hearing, both seniors were suspended for the rest of the school year, missing out on a chance to finish their high school athletics and potentially missing out on college football scholarships as a result, the complaints state. 

Prior to their suspensions, both students had no disciplinary referrals and were making good grades, according to the complaints. 

“On Jan. 13, the students appealed the Council’s decision to the Pike County Board of Education, and the board agreed to consider allowing the students to return to GHS if they participated in drug treatment classes, passed urine and hair follicle drug tests and maintained perfect attendance at the alternative school. After completing all the requirements, the students returned to school on Feb. 21 – three months after their removal,” the SPLC said in the release. 

“He had a rough senior year, to say the least,” said Tasha Martin, RaQuan’s mother, in a statement. “He missed senior night, he missed everything.” 

“They didn’t get to play not one game,” Martin said. “They had some coaches visit them while they were in alternative school but when the coaches found out that they couldn’t go back to school, they stopped coming. Our families were devastated; sometimes me and Ms. Pelton would be on the phone and just cry to each other. It has been really tough.”  

“I want schools to understand that it’s not just a moment you’re ruining, you’re ruining a lifetime,” Pelton said. “With no factual basis, only an unproven accusation, you have just completely deterred a student’s life. Most schools say that they are there for their students, but you are showing them the total opposite.”

Pike County Schools during the 2019-2020 school year referred 49 students to a disciplinary hearing, according to the SPLC. Of those, 48 students were either suspended or expelled, and although Black students made up less than 50 percent of the student population, Black students made up 80 percent of the referrals.  On average, Black students make up 77 percent of all students referred for disciplinary hearings in the district, according to the SPLC.

Both complaints can be read here and here.

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News

Biden urges Democrats to support Doug Jones

In the email, Biden asked voters to split a contribution between the Biden campaign and Jones’s campaign.

Brandon Moseley

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Former Vice President Joe Biden appears at a campaign rally in Birmingham with then-candidate Doug Jones in 2017. (CHIP BROWNLEE/APR)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday asked Democratic donors to support the re-election of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.

“I wanted to reach out to you about an old friend of mine: Doug Jones,” Biden said. “You might not believe this, but I met Doug more than 40 years ago, when I was a newly-minted junior senator, and he was in his early 20s, just beginning what would become one of the most impressive and dedicated careers of public service I’ve had the privilege of watching.”

“Doug has devoted his entire career to fighting for justice,” Biden said. “He’s the man who would not rest until the Klansmen who killed four young Black girls in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing were finally brought to justice. Doug has shown us, even in our darkest moments, that hope for the American promise is never lost — and what we can do when we stand united.”

In the email, Biden asked voters to split a contribution between the Biden campaign and Jones’s campaign.

“I need Doug’s help in the Senate,” Biden said. “He’s running neck-and-neck in his race in Alabama right now, and he needs our help to win.”

Biden said this election is “a battle for the soul of our country” and “few places are those stakes as clear as in Alabama.”

“I remember in 2017 when everyone counted Doug out,” Biden said. “When they thought that a message of unity would lose in a state where a long history of division still runs deep. But when I visited Alabama to help Doug, I saw what he saw – Alabama was ready to come together.”

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Biden was an early endorser of Jones in the 2017 special election, when Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore in that election. Jones returned the favor in the 2020 Democratic primary, endorsing Biden when the former vice president was having difficulty raising money and was polling well behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

Jones campaigned hard with Biden in Selma and other campaign stops across Alabama prior to Super Tuesday on March 3.

“His win gave me hope,” Biden said. “I was both honored and proud to have escorted him onto the floor of the Senate and stood behind him when he was sworn in as a United States Senator. And his record has been extraordinary – passing 22 bipartisan bills helping farmers, military families, and those devastated by natural disasters. And in perhaps the most crucial fight of all – our health care – Doug has been there again and again standing up for all of us, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Every time we needed him to stand up for us, Doug Jones was there. I’m going to need Doug’s voice in the Senate. Alabama and America will need Doug’s voice in the Senate.”

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“Doug and I share a vision for a united country – one that puts faith over fear, fairness over privilege, and love over hate. And Doug, his campaign, and his career remind us that it’s a vision we can only realize if we come together,” Biden said.

In an Auburn University Montgomery poll, Biden trails Trump in Alabama by 17 points. Jones trailed former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville by 12 points. The Jones campaign claims that there has been a tightening of the race since then and it is a statistical tie. The Tuberville campaign disputes that claim.

Republican insider Perry Hooper Jr. said, “Whether it is the AUM poll, the Al.com poll, or internal polls by the (Tuberville) campaign, the margin is between 12 and 18 points in favor of Tuberville.”

The Jones campaign has been inundating the state airwaves with TV and radio ads due to the vast advantage that Jones has had fundraising. More than 82 percent of Jones’ money raised in the third quarter reporting cycle came from outside the state of Alabama.

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