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Alabama NAACP will hold voting rights vigils tonight

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama NAACP has announced that they are holding voting rights vigils in Alabama’s four largest cities tonight to protest what they feel are a weakening of voting rights in this country. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law on August 6, 1965 and will be 54 years old today.

There will be candlelight vigils across the country. The Voting Rights Act Vigils are sponsored by: Public Citizen, NextGen America, the Daily Kos, the League of Women Voters of the United States, People For the American Way, and Stand Up America.

National spokeswoman Christine Wood said in a statement: “Born out of the March on Selma, the Voting Rights Act was created to protect each person’s right to vote. While the Act was successful for decade, it was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013 in the disastrous Shelby County v. Holder decision.”

“Six years later and we’re seeing discriminatory voting laws emerge across the country – including voter ID laws, voter purges, and gerrymandering – all of which are infringing on the right to vote and suppressing the voices of entire communities,” Wood continued. “On Tuesday, August 6th, Democracy activists are taking action. Voting Rights advocates around the country will hold candle-lit vigils to shed light on the impact of the Shelby decision, and demand that Congress restore the voting rights protections in the Voting Rights Act.”

“Help ensure that every person has a voice regardless of the color of their skin by taking a part in this national action. Sign up to host or attend a VRA Vigil near you!” Wood concluded.

The Huntsville event will start at: 7:45 p.m. and ill be at the Gazebo at Big Spring Park; 200 Church St SW, Huntsville, AL 35801. It is hosted by the Alabama NAACP.

The Birmingham event will start at 7:30 and be held at Cross Plex; 2337 Bessemer Rd Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35208. It is hosted by the Alabama NAACP.

The Montgomery event will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church; 454 Dexter Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104. That event is sponsored by the Alabama NAACP, Alabama ACLU, and the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

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The Shine a Light for Voting Rights event in Mobile will start at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at Mardi Gras Park; 104-148 S Royal St, Mobile, AL 36602. That event is hosted by the Alabama NAACP.

The Voting Rights Act likely would not have passed without the Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery. On February 26, 1965 voting rights activist Deacon Jimmy Lee Jackson died from his wounds after being shot by Alabama State Trooper James B. Fowler at a voting rights march in Marion. Determined to focus the anger over Lee’s death into peaceful protest, SCLC Director James Bevel organized a protest march to Montgomery to remember Jackson and urge enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 which ended legal voting discrimination.

On Sunday, March 7 Bevel and Amelia Boynton led the protest march. Then Alabama Governor George C. Wallace (D) ordered the then all White State Troopers to break up the march. The Troopers, aided by local police and possemen volunteers fought off the marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge using horses, teargas, and clubs. Boynton was beaten unconscious. The event was televised and made national and international newscasts. The nation was shocked by the senseless violence and obvious over reaction by Alabama authorities.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. joined by a number of religious and civil rights leaders, traveled to Selma to launch a second march. Boston civil rights volunteer and minister James Reeb was beaten to death by White supremacists on the night of March 8. On March 9 King led a second March. They were met at the bridge by the State Troopers again who however stood aside to let them pass. King led the bruised and battered Selma marchers back to the Church.

Wallace refused to grant the marchers safe passage to Montgomery. President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) intervened and promised to protect the marchers. On March 15 the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was introduced in Congress. On March 21, 1965 King led a third and much larger march from Selma down Highway 80. This time they were protected by 1,900 Alabama National Guard troops, FBI agents, and U.S. Marshals. 25,000 marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and held a protest rally in front of the State Capital on March 25. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 6.

(Wikipedia was consulted in the writing of this article.)

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Elections

Alabama Farmers Federation endorses Jerry Carl

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama Farmers Federation’s political action committee, FarmPAC, announced Tuesday they have endorsed Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

“We take pride in being a grassroots organization with local leaders driving the endorsement process,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “After careful consideration, county Federations in southwest Alabama made their recommendation, and I am pleased to announce the Alabama Farmers Federation has endorsed Jerry Carl. Alabama’s 1st Congressional district has a rich heritage rooted in agriculture and timber, and Jerry will be a strong advocate from those industries in Washington.”

Carl expressed his appreciation for the federation’s endorsement.

“It is an incredible honor to have the endorsement of the Alabama Farmers Federation,” Carl said. “With agriculture being our state’s largest industry, our farmers are the backbone of our state and our economy. They represent the hard-working interests of the district that I will fight for in Congress as we work to get our economy back on track. The Federation knows I will fight tirelessly for the president’s agenda and will do what is needed to support the hard-working men and women who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs.”

Congressional endorsements are recommended by county federations in each district based on the candidates’ positions on key issues impacting farmers and rural Alabama.

Carl is running in the Republican primary runoff against former State Sen. Bill Hightower.

The 1st Congressional District is open because incumbent Rep. Bradley Byrne is not seeking re-election.

The eventual winner of the Republican nomination will face the winner of the Democratic Party primary runoff in the November 3 general election. The Democratic runoff is between Kiani Gardner and James Averhart.

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Other candidates in the July 14 runoff races endorsed by the Federation include Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate, Jeff Coleman in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District and incumbent Judge Beth Kellum for Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2.

The Federation encourages voters concerned about casting a vote in person to follow guidance from Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

“Amid coronavirus concerns, it is important to remember that Alabamians who are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness have the opportunity to avoid the polls on Election Day by casting an absentee ballot,” Merrill said. “Alabamians can access the application online or by visiting or calling their local Absentee Election Manager’s office.”

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

Brandon Moseley

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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.

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“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.

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ACLU of Alabama backs right to protest

Eddie Burkhalter

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The ACLU of Alabama in a statement Tuesday expressed support for the Constitutionally protected right to protest and called for an end to racist policing. 

“We support protesters in Alabama and across the nation who are expressing their grief at the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and all of the many Black men, women, and children who have been killed at the hands of police,” the statement reads. “We stand with those who are demanding justice from a system that has both historically abused and too often abuses Black communities to this day. Black people should not live in fear of being shot and killed by the police.

The ACLU said these times of unrest compel us to examine what will make our communities safer and more equitable.

“Police, sheriffs, and other government officials have discretion in how they use their time and resources,” the organization said in their statement. “Now is the time to question how they use that discretion around the role that law enforcement possesses in our communities, especially given the disproportionate harm inflicted upon communities of color, particularly Black communities, caused by enhanced militarization of law enforcement in this country. We cannot effectively address police violence without completely reimagining the role of police.  We must significantly reduce the responsibilities and presence of police in the everyday lives of people in heavily policed communities. We will not rest until there is an end to racist policing.”

“The ACLU’s commitment to ending racist and violent policing goes back decades, from confronting the police violence that fueled protests in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Newark in the 1960s, through Ferguson. Sadly, those efforts  have not worked. We must do more.

“Rather than spend taxpayer dollars on enforcing restrictions on the constitutionally protected right to protests, police and government officials should focus on seeking justice and holding themselves accountable to the people they are supposed to protect and serve.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Monday declared a state of emergency and enacted a city-wide curfew after a peaceful protest Sunday turned violent early Monday morning. 

Protests across Alabama on Monday were peaceful, with few arrests reported, according to news accounts.

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Alabama leaders remember Auburn head football Coach Pat Dye

Brandon Moseley

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via Madison Ogletree / The Auburn Plainsman

On Monday, former Auburn football head Coach and Athletic Director Pat Dye died from kidney and liver failure. He had recently tested positive for COVID-19 as well. He was age 80. Many Alabama leaders commented fondly on the legendary Auburn football Coach from 1981 to 1992.

Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) said in a statement, “If there was a college football version of Mount Rushmore, Pat Dye could be there among the greats. Not only did he bring Auburn football back into prominence by winning games, SEC Championships, and what probably should have been a 1983 National Championship, he was a wonderful molder of young men. While he will long be remembered for the games he won and the contributions he made to the great Auburn-Alabama rivalry, there are hundreds of people who were touched by him who will carry on his legacy for decades to come.”

U.S. Senate candidate former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville said, “Today is a sad day for the Auburn community with the loss of Coach Pat Dye. Coach Dye was a true Auburn man and believed in the value of hard work and “a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.” He helped to instill these Auburn principles in players and fans alike. He was one of the coaching greats of the game, and many including myself learned invaluable lessons from watching him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family for peace and comfort during this time.”

U.S. Senate candidate former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “The state of Alabama has lost one of its legendary coaches in Pat Dye. The field at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn is named for him. He won four SEC championships at Auburn University, and he coached my choice for the world’s greatest athlete, Bo Jackson, and others like Tracy Rocker, the tremendous Outland Award winner. Coach Dye’s teams were famous for their toughness and fighting spirit and for never quitting. He brought the Iron Bowl to Auburn and won an upset victory in that historic first game at Auburn in 1989. Pat Dye never lost his country roots or his common touch. My condolences to Coach Dye’s family, and to the entire Auburn family.”

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) said, “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Pat Dye — a great man, coach and member of the Auburn family. Not only was he a phenomenal football coach, but an even better person. For years, I have known Pat personally and have always valued his friendship and colorful commentary. He had great takes on both football and life. Coach Dye truly embodied the Auburn spirit. He will be missed not only by the Auburn family, but the entire state of Alabama. War Eagle, Coach. Your life and legacy lives on.”

Former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr (R-Montgomery) said, “We lost a great Coach and a Great American today!Coach Pat Dye passed away this morning.”

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) said, “Coach Dye was larger than life-a true legend. Not only did he win countless Auburn football games at the helm of championship teams, but more importantly he won the hearts of so many in Alabama and beyond. He truly was a man of great character and my heart is heavy hearing the news of his recent passing. Louise and I will be keeping his loved ones in our prayers.”

U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, “‪Coach Dye was always so friendly, encouraging, and just a true joy to be around. Rebecca and I join so many others in mourning his passing and remembering a life most certainly well lived.”

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Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said, “Moments I’ll always remember and be grateful for- celebrating my birthday with an Auburn man and legend. Wings up Coach as he walks humbly with God. “I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.”-Auburn creed.”

“I was saddened to hear about Coach Dye’s passing this morning,” said Second Congressional District candidate Barry Moore. “Everyone in Alabama knew him, and those who knew him well knew what a fine person he was.”

Auburn Athletics Director Allen Greene said, “For four decades, Coach Dye showed all of us what it looks like to be an Auburn person. His coaching exploits are well known, securing his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. His skills as an administrator were equally formidable, resulting most notably in bringing the Iron Bowl to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Just like his football teams, Pat Dye the athletic director was tenacious, never backing down from a fight when he believed Auburn’s good name and best interests demanded it. Thanks to his tenacity, I’ll always treasure my first home Iron Bowl, celebrating victory on the field that bears his name.”

Current Auburn Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn said, “Coach Dye was much more than a hall of fame coach and administrator at Auburn. He was an Auburn leader and visionary. He not only returned the football program back to national prominence during his tenure, but was a key figure in bringing the Iron Bowl to Auburn and made an impact on the university and in the community. He embodied what Auburn is about: hard work, toughness and a blue collar mentality. Coach Dye’s impact on Auburn is endless and will stand the test of time. “

Dye also coached for six seasons at East Carolina University and one season with the University of Wyoming. Dye played football at the University of Georgia and was an assistant football coach under legendary University of Alabama head football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Dye’s overall record as a head coach was 163-62-5. He was 99-39-4 at Auburn where he is the third winningest coach in the history of the program.

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