Dr. Condoleezza Rice visited Alabama last week as part of the state’s Bicentennial events on December 13 and 14 in Montgomery. Dr. Rice also was a guest of the Westminster Presbyterian Church USA and the Alabama School of Fine Arts at the Dorothy Jemison Day Theater in Birmingham on December 12.
Dr. Rice served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States to President George W. Bush (R).
Rice is the granddaughter of Rev. John Wesley Rice, Sr., the church’s first pastor. Dr. Rice grew up in the church’s manse during her formative years while her father, Rev. John W. Rice, Jr., who was assistant pastor, assumed the role of pastor after his father.
Dr. Rice was the first African American woman to serve as Secretary of State. Prior to that she served as President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor, the first woman to serve in that position.
Economic developer and historian Dr. Nicole Jones attended both events.
“On Thursday 12 December, Condoleeza Rice visited Birmingham to speak on her experiences growing up in Westminster Presbyterian Church and serving as US Secretary of State and as national security advisor,” Dr. Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter. “Dr. Rice emphasized the importance of education as a bridge for economic opportunity and advancement. Condoleeza Rice expressed how she greatly enjoys teaching others once again as a professor at Stanford University.”
Dr. Jones said that, “The event, held to commemorate Westminster Presbyterian Church’s 75th year, was a wonderful opportunity to learn from an expert in foreign policy and diplomacy.”
Rice was an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, and also served as special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rice had previously served on the National Security Council as the senior director of Soviet and Eastern Europe Affairs and Advisor to President George H. W. Bush (R) during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification from 1989 to 1991.
Dr. Rice was appointed to the College Football Playoff Committee (formerly the Bowl Championship Series) in 2013. She is an accomplished classical pianist, and has played with internationally renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma, on several occasions, most recently at the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC, as part of the 2017 Kennedy Center Arts Summit. Rice is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Rice served as a professor and provost at Stanford University until 1999. After her public service with Pres. George W. Bush’s administration Rice returned to Stanford University in 2009 as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, a position she currently holds. Dr. Rice also currently serves as the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a professor of political science at Stanford University.
During Rice’s childhood, Birmingham was a segregated city. Rice was eight years old when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four little girls, including 11 year old Denise McNair, whom Rice often played dolls with.
Birmingham celebrated its 148th anniversary as a city on Thursday, December 19.
Dr. Rice is a favorite daughter of Westminster Presbyterian Church and was featured during the church’s 65th Anniversary celebration and the church’s 75th anniversary as well.
Westminster Presbyterian Church is part of the Presbyterian Church USA and the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley. The church is located at 20 Sixth Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35211. Rev. Jerome Bell is the Interim Pastor.
Sewell votes in favor of National Apprenticeship Act
The bill would invest more than $3.5 billion to create nearly one million new apprenticeship opportunities.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, last week voted in favor of the National Apprenticeship Act, legislation to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act for the first time since its enactment in 1937.
The new National Apprenticeship Act will create one million new apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years. Registered apprenticeships provide workers with paid, on-the-job training, and are the nation’s most successful federal workforce training program.
“As a long-time supporter of expanding registered apprenticeships, I am thrilled to support today’s legislation to provide 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities over five years,” Sewell said. “Our Nation is facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and estimates show that more than 7 million of the pandemic’s job losses will be permanent. We need bold investments like those in the National Apprenticeship Act to accelerate the economy and help get the American people back to work in stable, good-paying jobs of the future.”
The bill invests more than $3.5 billion over the next five years.
The act establishes a $400 million grant program to support the expansion of apprenticeship opportunities, including pre-apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships, which will increase $100 million annually to reach $800 million by 2025.
The legislation also codifies and streamlines standards for registered apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to make it easier for both apprentices and employers to participate in high-quality apprenticeships and codifies the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.
It directs the office to convene industry leaders, labor organizations, educators and others to expand apprenticeships into new occupations and sectors.
Supporters say the bill could yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased tax revenue and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance, and that nothing is more effective at breaking the cycle of poverty than a well-paying full-time job.
Sewell is about to enter her sixth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.
Nearly 70 percent of Alabama’s pregnancy-related deaths in 2016 were preventable: report
Most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, with women of color bearing the brunt of Alabama’s maternal mortality crisis.
A report this month by the Alabama Maternal Mortality Review Committee found that nearly 70 percent of pregnancy-associated and pregnancy-related deaths in Alabama recorded in 2016 were preventable.
Mental health and substance use disorders were identified as key contributors in nearly half pregnancy-associated and pregnancy-related deaths. Patient-, family-, system- and provider-related factors were among the most frequently identified factors involved in pregnancy-associated and pregnancy-related deaths, the report found.
The researchers found cardiovascular conditions were the leading underlying causes in pregnancy-related deaths.
“The Medical Association of the State of Alabama commends the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) for its diligence in researching the factors that impact maternal deaths, in hopes to mitigate and prevent future maternal deaths,” said Dr. John Meigs, president of the Alabama Medical Association. “It is very concerning for physicians throughout the state that 70 percent of the deaths reviewed by the MMRC were preventable and that women of color are disproportionately affected. Alabama mothers deserve the best medical care that we can offer.”
According to the report, maternal death and pregnancy-related mortality ratios steadily trended upwards between 2012 and 2015 with the largest increase being in 2016.
Alabama ranks third in the nation for maternal mortality behind only Arkansas and Kentucky.
According to the report, expanding Medicaid could help reduce the state’s high number of maternal deaths and pregnancy-related and -associated deaths.
“Expansion of Medicaid was an underlying, yet significant factor which permeated throughout the case reviews,” according to the committee’s report. “Research has shown that in states where Medicaid expansion was adopted, there were reduced maternal mortality rates and positive maternal health outcomes. Based on the findings of the committee’s review, Medicaid program expansion will allow women to receive needed healthcare before, during, and after pregnancies.”
The MMRC recommends Medicaid expansion up to one year postpartum and improved reimbursement for providers, routine autopsies on maternal deaths, and increased mental health and substance use disorder treatments and services for women.
“Sadly, the Alabama Maternal Mortality Review Committee found that mental health and substance use disorders were identified as key contributors in almost half of pregnancy-associated and pregnancy-related deaths,” said Holly Caraway McCorkle, executive director of the Alabama Council for Behavioral Healthcare. “These deaths are preventable, and Medicaid expansion will offer women who suffer from mental health and substance use disorders life-saving coverage and access to critically needed resources and services before, during and after pregnancies.”
Longtime State Rep. Alvin Holmes has died
Montgomery Fire and Rescue responded to a call at Holmes’ residence on Saturday afternoon, and they found the 81-year-old unresponsive.
Alvin Holmes, a 44-year veteran of the Alabama Legislature and one of the state’s most outspoken proponents for racial inclusion, has died. Montgomery Fire and Rescue responded to a call at Holmes’ residence on Saturday afternoon, and they found the 81-year-old unresponsive.
Over a four-decade-plus career in the Alabama House of Representatives, Holmes was a lightning rod for criticism from his fellow white lawmakers and the white voters who elected them, as he repeatedly challenged the status quo and went headlong at biases and racism that prevented more Black Alabamians from serving in positions of power in the state.
Holmes was a foot soldier in the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery and led the charge on getting the Confederate battle flag removed from Alabama’s Capitol building. Holmes fought many of his battles, especially the early ones, by himself, and while to his friends he would admit that standing alone wasn’t always pleasant, he never showed such hesitation outwardly, seeming to revel in the hateful words and personal attacks from other lawmakers and the public.
Many of the fights Holmes began were later finished in federal courtrooms, and they most often led to further advancements for Black Alabamians.
Governor meets virtually with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris
Five Democratic governors and five Republican governors attended the virtual meeting.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday took part in a virtual meeting with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris along with other members of the National Governors Association executive committee.
Other members of the executive committee who attended the meeting were the governors of Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Maryland, Wisconsin and Utah. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is chair of the committee.
“In her capacity as a member of the National Governors Association Executive Committee, Governor Ivey participated in the NGA Leadership conference call earlier this afternoon,” said Gina Maiola, Ivey’s press secretary, in a statement after the meeting. “During the meeting, Governor Ivey stressed that both parties, as well as the executive and legislative branches, need to come together to extend the deadline for CARES Act funding to allow for maximum flexibility going forward. With the December 31 deadline quickly approaching, the governor underscored to the group that it would be to the benefit of the states to remove that barrier and give us flexibility to continue spending those dollars in the first few months of 2021.”
Ivey has until Dec. 31 to spend nearly $1 billion in CARES Act funds, and barring any deadline extension, those funds will have to be returned to the federal government.
More than two weeks after the Nov. 3 election, the Trump administration hasn’t allowed Biden to receive security briefings or updates on Operation Warp Speed and plans to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, which is surging in Alabama and across the country. More than 250,000 in the U.S. have died from the disease.
The Associated Press reported that Biden discussed his concerns over lack of access to that information with the governors during Thursday’s meeting. “Unfortunately, my administration hasn’t been able to get everything we need,” Biden said, according to the AP.
AP reported that, according to a readout provided by Ivey’s office, Ivey told participants that both parties in Congress need to come together to provide more coronavirus response funding, especially for families struggling economically because of the pandemic.
Speaking after the meeting Thursday, Biden expressed frustration over the Trump administration blocking him from coronavirus data.
“There is no excuse not to share the data and let us begin to plan because on day one it’s going to take us time,” Biden said during a news conference after the meeting. “If we don’t have access to all this data, it’s going to put us behind the eight ball by a matter of a month or more. And that’s lives. How many would be lost as a consequence?”
Biden also addressed Trump’s refusal to concede, saying that it is “another incident where he will be down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history.”
“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks. I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won, he’s not going to be able to win and we’re going to be sworn in on January 20. Far from me to question his motive. It’s just outrageous what he’s doing,” Biden said.