The Faith and Politics Institute will return to Alabama March 1 through March 3 to lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation of nearly 50 members from the U.S. House and U.S. Senate on the 2019 Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage.
The delegation will visit historic civil rights sites in Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma and engage members of Congress on the events of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s.
This year’s pilgrimage will be led by Alabama born civil rights legend, U.S. Representative John Lewis, D-Georgia, and co-hosted by U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell, D-Selma, and Martha Roby, R-Montgomery.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina, and Republican Conference Vice Chair Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, will join the delegation, along with dozens of members of Congress including more than ten freshman House members, dozens of students, seminarians and clergy.
Joan Mooney, FPI President and CEO, said of the Pilgrimage said, “Together, we will explore powerful and often painful lessons of history to help us better face our challenges of division today and find much-needed hope for our collective future.”
“This pilgrimage to the sites that defined the modern-day voting rights movement in America may be more important now than ever before,” Congressman Lewis said. “At a time when there are interests who want to tear down the pillars of our democracy and reverse the progress we have made, it is important that members of Congress, both new and seasoned, never forget the blood that was shed and the sacrifices that were made to build a more fair, more just democracy in this country. We don’t want to go back. We want to move forward, and in order to advance the cause of voting rights in America, members must know injustice when we see. That’s how this past informs our work today.”
“The annual civil rights pilgrimage is a valuable opportunity to turn toward this painful chapter in our history, rather than away from it,” Senator Jones said. “By reflecting on the sacrifices and injustices of that time, we can better apply their lessons to our daily lives. We are seeing a resurgence of the kind of dangerous rhetoric that inspired hate and violence in our past and undermined the values we hold dear. To honor those who bravely fought and bled in the pursuit of equality, we must continue to shine a light on their actions and stand up against those who would once again use hate as a tool to divide us.”
“Each year, I am honored to lead my friends and colleagues on this historic Pilgrimage in our nation’s civil rights district, Alabama’s 7th Congressional District,” Congresswoman Sewell said. “As Alabama’s first Black Congresswoman, I know I stand on the shoulders of so many giants who courageously fought, bled and died to make our society more just and inclusive for all. I hope this Pilgrimage will help us reflect on all that we can do – individually and collectively – to advance justice and equality in our nation.”
“It is my distinct pleasure to serve as a co-host of the Faith and Politics Institute Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama,” Congresswoman Sewell said. “Each year, this event serves as a unique opportunity for lawmakers to immerse themselves in the history of my home state and to better understand its place in the American Civil Rights Movement. I encourage this year’s participants to share their experiences and Alabama’s stories with residents of their home states so that all Americans can take part in building a legacy of hope, faith, and justice for generations to come. Together, we will shape a brighter future.”
The theme of this year’s pilgrimage is “Finding Hope from History”. The bipartisan congressional delegation will visit historic civil rights landmarks such as Birmingham’s 16th St. Baptist Church, Montgomery’s Dexter Baptist Church, and Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The Civil Rights Pilgrimage will also bring members of Congress to The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery to learn about the history of domestic slavery and lynching in the United States. The Museum opened in 2018 as, “the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”
Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.
“We are shadowed in America by a history of racial inequality that can only be overcome by the light of truth,” Stevenson said. “We must confront the legacy of slavery, lynching and segregation in this country if we truly want to be free.”
The 2019 Pilgrimage will provide members of Congress the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the civil rights icons in Alabama and hopefully achieve greater personal understanding through dialogue and engagement with colleagues.
This year’s pilgrimage is occurring in the wake of prominent Linden editor and publisher Goodloe Sutton’s call for the Ku Klux Klan to ride again and lynch members of Congress.
“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out DC, we’d all been better off,” Sutton told the Montgomery Advertiser, “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.”
Linden is just 49.6 miles from Selma. Sutton has been formally censured by the Alabama Press Association for his comments. Roby, Sewell, and Jones all calling on Sutton to resign Tuesday.
Bloomberg making final Alabama push
The Michael Bloomberg campaign is making Alabama one of its top Super Tuesday priorities — hoping that state Democratic voters will help catapult the former New York City mayor into the running for the party’s presidential nomination.
Bloomberg has already spent more time in Alabama than most of the other candidates — including kicking off his presidential run by qualifying first on the Alabama ballot and speaking at an Alabama Democratic Conference meeting — and has flooded the state with workers and cash, buying advertising spots and building infrastructure the likes of which Alabama has rarely seen.
With the primary less than a week away now, Bloomberg’s campaign is making a last push.
That will be highlighted by the former mayor’s visit to the state over the weekend and a number of surrogates making their way around Alabama throughout the coming days.
That starts in earnest on Thursday, when former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, one of the first mayors to endorse Bloomberg, travels to Miles College for a “community conversation” with students and others.
The visit to a historically black college is no coincidence, as Bloomberg’s campaign looks to regain the support of black voters after his history as NYC mayor drew major fire from his Democratic primary opponents. Having the endorsement of the ADC, the state’s black caucus, will certainly help, but former Vice President Joe Biden maintains strong support among black voters and moderates in Alabama.
Nutter will be joined at Miles by former Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who also has announced his support for Bloomberg.
Following the event at Miles, Nutter will travel to the Alabama State House in Montgomery for a meeting with the Alabama Baptist Association Leadership and then on to Selma, where he’ll attend a reception for the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors.
Alabama, Oregon groups move to join legal fight over Equal Rights Amendment
Organizations in Alabama and Oregon have asked a federal judge to let them join in the legal fight over the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Mia Raven, policy director for the grassroots Alabama reproductive rights group the Yellowhammer Fund, and founder of the People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment & Rights (P.O.W.E.R.) House in Montgomery, is joined by the Oregon-based nonprofit VoteERA.org and its president and founder, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, in the filing of a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit.
Alabama’s attorney general Steve Marshall in December 2019 joined attorneys general for Louisiana and South Dakota as plaintiffs in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that argues that the deadline to ratify the amendment has expired.
The Equal Rights Amendment, if ratified by a 38th state, would ban discrimination based on sex. Proponents of the amendment hope that Virginia’s new Democratic majority means a second chance for the protections for women.
Congress passed the amendment in 1972 and five years later it was ratified by 35 states, but the deadline to gain the needed 38 states passed in 1979, so Congress extended the deadline to 1982.
Nevada in 2017 became the 36th state to ratify it, and was followed by Illinois in 2018.
“We have worked for decades seeking to ensure the ratification of the federal ERA. Our decision to seek to intervene in the states’ pending lawsuit is a reflection of our persistent devotion to guaranteeing equal rights under the law for all people.” said DiLorenzo and Raven in a joint statement.
Attempts to reach Raven for comment were unsuccessful.
Since the lawsuit was filed, attorneys general in Tennessee and Nebraska have joined Alabama as plaintiffs fighting ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Shelby: Administration is “lowballing” the cost of the coronavirus
Tuesday, the Trump Administration asked the Congress for an additional $2.5 billion for planning for a possible coronavirus outbreak in the United States. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) accused the administration of “lowballing” the actual cost.
Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
“It seems to me at the outset that this request for the money, the supplemental, is lowballing it, possibly, and you can’t afford to do that,” Shelby told HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday during a hearing on the agency’s budget request. “If you lowball something like this, you’ll pay for it later.”
Shelby told reporters afterward he doesn’t have a new number in mind but that it will be “higher” than the $2.5 billion requested by HHS.
Azar said the administration would work with Congress if lawmakers think more money is needed.
“We’ll be of the mindset to fund this crisis, not to underfund it in any way, and I hope this administration would look at this as something they cannot afford to let get out of hand,” Azar said.
The Trump administration’s request includes $1.25 billion in new funding. The rest to be taken from existing health programs, including $535 million from fighting Ebola. Coronaviruses are a normal occurrence throughout the animal kingdom. This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in December. It is believed that the disease originally existed in bats, which are a food source in China. Since then over 80,000 people have contracted the illness in 37 countries and over 2,700 have died. Researchers are referring to this strain of the coronavirus as COVID-19.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that at that point it appears that it is inevitable that the virus will come to America.
“Disruption to everyday life might be severe,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The U.S. currently has 57 cases of COVID-19. 40 of those are Americans who were former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship. On Friday, the administration suggested that some of those infected Americans could be treated at a federal facility in Anniston. A plan that local officials and the Alabama Congressional delegation both urged the administration to reject.
On Sunday, Shelby said, “I just got off the phone with the President. He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama. Thank you,
@POTUS, for working with us to ensure the safety of all Alabamians.”
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Messonnier said. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”
Channel 42 TV is reporting that the UAB Health System is making preparations for the coronavirus by purchasing additional equipment and training staff in how to deal with the infectious disease which devastated medical professionals in Hubei Province.
(Original reporting by the Hill, Web MD, and Channel 42 News contributed to this report.)
Alabama Republicans attack Jones for voting against Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act
Tuesday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) and 43 other U.S. Senators voted against The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation, at which point scientific research unequivocally shows that unborn babies experience pain. Republicans were quick to attack Jones for the pro-abortion vote.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said in a statement, “Senator Doug Jones’s NO vote on the Pain Capable Act shows that once again he is completely out of touch with the majority of Alabamians.”
“In 2018, 59% of Alabamians voted in favor of Amendment 2, which recognized the rights of the unborn and withholds state funding for abortions,” Lathan explained. “Yet Senator Jones continues with his arrogant ways, voting against the will of his constituents. Just last week, when he was asked about this important legislation, Senator Jones laughed.”
“Alabamians will remember this vote – along with so many others – when they cast their ballots on November 3rd,” Lathan said. “Senator Jones will be replaced with someone who respects the majority’s wishes and supports Alabama values. We thank Senator Richard Shelby for once again honoring the wishes of our pro-life state as he voted to support ending abortions after 20 weeks and continues to be a consistent pro-life warrior.”
Former U.S. Senator and 2020 GOP Senate candidate Jeff Sessions (R) said that this is shameful and should not be tolerated.
“It is not surprising that Doug Jones joined 43 other senators today to vote against legislation prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, causing the bill to fail,” Sessions said. “Just last week, Jones laughed off today’s vote regarding late-term abortions when asked by a constituent about his position and called the question ‘stupid.’ This is shameful and must not be tolerated.”
2020 GOP Senate candidate Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said that Doug Jones has failed the people of Alabama again with this vote.
“Doug Jones has failed the people of Alabama once again by voting no on the 20-week abortion ban,” Byrne said. “The U.S. is just one of a handful of countries, including China and North Korea, that allow these horrible late term abortions. I believe life begins at conception and that every life is worth protecting. This vote is just another reason to #FireDougJones!”
“While serving in the Senate and as the Attorney General, I have a 100% pro-life record,” Sessions continued. “I was, myself, a co-sponsor of the legislation brought forward today, The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which continues to be blocked by pro-abortion advocates like Doug Jones each year.”
“I’m very thankful we now have a strong defender of the unborn in President Donald Trump,” Sessions added. “In our President’s own words just two months ago, ‘Together, we are the voice for the voiceless.’ This is the kind of leadership pro-life advocates have needed and will continue to support in this battle. Thank you also to Senator Richard Shelby for representing true Alabama values today and protecting the least of these.”
The National Republican Senate Committee is working to defeat Doug Jones and replace him with a Republican.
“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones has given up on Alabama,” said NRSC spokesperson Nathan Brand. “Whether it’s his work to remove President Trump from office or votes today to side with the pro-abortion lobby, Jones doesn’t stand for the values Alabamians hold dear.”
The Republican primary is on March 3.
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