A California man who bears the surname at the center of a debate about how history is remembered has come out in support of renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“I share that name of Pettus with secessionists, slave owners, and traitors to the United States,” David Pettus, 72, wrote in a statement he sent to several news outlets. “During the Civil War, they may have fought for (and several died for) what they believed, but what they fought and died for was wrong. It was not honorable. It was wicked. And they lost their fortunes as well as their lives in that wicked cause.”
Pettus tuned in to a virtual town hall event on Aug. 7 that was held to give Selma residents, some of whom marched across the bridge in 1965, a platform to discuss renaming the bridge. Local activists have criticized initiatives to change the name that have originated outside of Selma, proposed by people who have no connection to the community.
Pettus said he is sensitive to that and thinks that the town’s residents “need to have loud voices in any decision.” He said he was inspired by their comments.
“Therefore, as nothing more than a concerned citizen of this country – though as one who bears some relation to that disgraced name, I humbly make the following suggestions: 1) That the name of Edmund Pettus be removed from the bridge in Selma, to show that we can learn from our mistakes and be a better people than we have been in the past, and; 2) That the bridge henceforth be known as ‘Bloody Sunday Bridge’ to honor the historic events that occurred there in 1965; events led by John Lewis and others, and which raised all of us up to be better than we had been before.”
Pettus said he generally does not like the idea of things being named after people because people are fallible. He supports renaming the bridge after the event for which it is known because it would be attention-grabbing. He also said he supports the community’s goals of using the site to better educate people about what happened there.
Pettus retired from the real estate business and now writes full-time in California’s Bay Area, where he has spent his life. He was a student at the University of California, Berkeley in 1965, when the Bloody Sunday march etched his family name into civil rights history.
He wasn’t aware of the bridge’s name at the time and had no idea he was related to the former Confederate general and grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan until two years later when he began researching his family’s Deep South roots. He wasn’t able to pinpoint his exact relation, he said, but believes Edmund Pettus was his great-great-great-uncle.
There was a generational split in his family between older relatives who had remained in the south and were “unreconstructed,” he said. A great-aunt he used to visit called the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression.
“My dad who had come west during World War II did not have any of those inclinations, I’m pleased to say, and raised us not to have them,” Pettus said.
He has been in touch with another descendant of Edmund Pettus who has called for the bridge to be renamed. A great-great-granddaughter, Caroline Randall Williams, penned a New York Times op-ed in June about the debate over Confederate monuments.
She issued a statement last month supporting the latest push to rename the bridge for the late Rep. John Lewis: “We need to rename the bridge because we need to honor an American hero, a man who made that bridge a place worth remembering. John Lewis secured that bridge’s place on the right side of history. We are not a people that were made to cling to relics of the past at the cost of our hope for the future. Renaming the bridge in John Lewis’s honor would be a testament to the capacity for progress, the right-mindedness and striving toward freedom that are at the heart of what’s best about the American spirit.”
Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile residents impacted by Sally urged to apply for federal aid
FEMA has approved $11.1 million in housing grants to individuals and families through Sept. 28, according to the governor’s office.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday announced more than $11 million in federal disaster aid has been approved for those impacted by Hurricane Sally in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties.
FEMA has approved $11.1 million in housing grants to individuals and families through Sept. 28, according to Ivey’s office.
“Hurricane Sally took a punch to our coastal areas, but thanks in part to the millions of dollars in federal assistance, the people of Alabama are moving along the road to recovery,” Ivey said. “I remain grateful to President Trump, Administrator Gaynor and their teams for prioritizing the people of Alabama reeling from Hurricane Sally. We will get through this together; we have done it before, and we will do it again.”
Federal grants to repair homes or for renting temporary housing made up $8.9 million of the FEMA funding. Grants for childcare, moving and storage, medical and dental comprised the remaining $2.1 million.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved an additional $570,900 in disaster home repair loans for those impacted by Sally.
Ivey’s office encourages homeowners and renters in Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia counties to apply to FEMA for federal disaster assistance as soon as possible. Residents of these three Alabama counties may also be eligible to receive assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from the hurricane.
Residents in those three counties impacted by Hurricane Sally may register for FEMA disaster assistance online by visiting disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362. Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. Multi-lingual operators are available. The toll-free lines are open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight CST.
Those with a homeowner’s insurance policy are encouraged to file an insurance claim before applying for federal assistance.
Information that may be useful to have when you register include:
- Address of the damaged primary dwelling where the damage occurred
- Current mailing address
- Current telephone number
- Insurance information and description of disaster-caused damage and loss
- Total household annual income
- Names and birth dates of family members who live in the household
- Name and Social Security number of co-applicant (if applicable)
- Routing and account number for checking or savings account so FEMA may directly transfer disaster assistance funds
For more information on Hurricane Say visit FEMA’s website here.
New website for state resources for children, families launches
The website provides access to all the state’s resources for children and their families, including child care, education, family services and health services.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday announced the creation of a centralized website for the state’s social service programs and services for children and families.
Alabama Family Central was created through a $500,000 allocation by the state Legislature from the state’s Education Trust Fund budget and provides access to all the state’s resources for children and their families, including child care, education, family services and health services, according to Ivey’s office.
“Alabama Family Central will ensure that all parents and children in our state have access to crucial information and resources from numerous state agencies and non-profit organizations,” Ivey said in a statement. “Great parents need strong partners, and I am proud of the strong collaboration between the state and private sector to offer a one-stop shop of assistance for Alabama families. I appreciate the Alabama Partnership for Children spearheading this effort.”
In addition to pointing visitors to state programs and services, the website also points families who are undertaking remote school learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic to A+ Education Partnership, which advocates for quality education in Alabama.
The state website specifically directs visitors to a page that provides COVID-19 resources for parents, including sections on guidance and decision-making, supporting learning from home and coping and well-being.
“When I learned that our students would be learning remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my heart immediately went out to the parents who would need assistance teaching their children at home,” said State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, in a statement. “I requested funding to set up such assistance, so I humbly thank Governor Kay Ivey and Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, for granting that request. It was a pleasure working with A+ Education Partnership and the Alabama Partnership for Children to incorporate this idea into their programs, and I look forward to its expansion. Every child deserves access to the highest quality education, no matter their circumstances.”
The Alabama Family Central website includes:
- A+ Education Partnership
- Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention
- Alabama Department of Early Education
- Alabama Department of Education
- Alabama Department of Human Resources
- Alabama Department of Mental Health
- Alabama Department of Public Health
- Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
- Alabama Medicaid
Palmer supports legislation making unused PPP funds available to small businesses
There is an estimated $137 billion remaining in the Payroll Protection Program that could be immediately available to small businesses.
Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, added his signature to a discharge petition that would force a vote on a bill that would allow unused Paycheck Protection Program funds to be made available for small businesses.
There is an estimated $137 billion remaining in the Payroll Protection Program that could be immediately available to small businesses. The program has kept thousands of small businesses open since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are still in need as the economy continues to recover.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has refused to hold a vote. The Democratic controlled House passed the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act, which Republicans opposed.
Palmer and House Republicans accuse Pelosi of holding American workers and businesses “hostage,” preferring the Democrats’ relief legislation.
“Speaker Pelosi has made her objectives abundantly clear,” Palmer said. “We could have negotiated and delivered immediate aid for small businesses and individuals weeks ago, but her leftist agenda always comes first. Many businesses are barely hanging, on anxiously awaiting the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, but Pelosi is determined to hold them hostage to get her way. She would like to bail out states that were bankrupt before the pandemic and further a welfare agenda that is harmful to the economy. Today, I proudly signed a discharge petition to circumvent Pelosi’s control of the House floor and force a vote on a bill that would bring real relief to businesses struggling to survive the pandemic. It’s time for Members of Congress to stand up for small businesses and American workers since the Speaker clearly won’t. Small businesses across the country can’t wait.”
A discharge petition on H.R. 8265 was filed on Friday by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Washington, and 218 signatures are needed to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. The bill was introduced on Sept. 16 by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio.
“This public health crisis has left our small businesses near permanent closure, and that will happen on a massive scale if Congress doesn’t act,” Beutler said. “Yet Congress isn’t acting, so I’ve filed the discharge petition in the House today so we can bypass the political posturing and bring relief to our nation’s small businesses and their employees. Other relief remains vital, but we either save jobs and businesses now or provide triage soon for the damage caused by empty buildings, lost livelihoods and health care plans, and fewer employment opportunities overall. Reviving the PPP has to be our priority.”
“The Paycheck Protection Program has served as a critical lifeline for America’s small businesses,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California. “Since its launch, the program is credited with saving 51 million jobs nationwide. But our work in helping small business owners stay open and keep employees on payroll is not done. A recent report indicates that as many as 36 percent small businesses say if no new funding comes from Congress soon, they will be forced to lay off workers or cut back hours. Democrats have consistently blocked or delayed relief, but Republicans are not giving up. That is why House Republicans, led by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler have filed a discharge petition to force a vote on a stand-alone extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through the end of the year. It only needs 218 signatures to force a vote, so I hope that our Democrat colleagues will join us in delivering relief. My Republican colleagues and I will continue to act on our Commitment to America; we will be relentless in our fight to protect jobs, small businesses, and the American dream.”
“Since March, small businesses—corner stores, retail shops, and family restaurants—have been struggling to survive,” Chabot said. “Congress worked in a bipartisan manner to pass the CARES Act, which delivered rapid assistance to small firms through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program. Unfortunately, in recent months, additional relief for small businesses has been caught up in the partisan logjam and the livelihoods of real people hang in the balance. Congress must work together to get help to small businesses in Washington, Ohio, and across our great nation. Rep. Herrera Beutler’s discharge petition to force a vote on my legislation is the way to do just that. I thank her for her leadership on behalf of America’s small businesses.”
Multiple news outlets, including Roll Call and The Hill, are reporting that several House Democrats are “strongly considering” signing Beutler’s discharge petition.
Palmer represents Alabama’s 6th Congressional District. Palmer does not have a Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 general election.
Agriculture Secretary Perdue to tour storm damage today
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will tour farms in South Alabama on Monday to see damages from Hurricane Sally.
United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate and Gov. Kay Ivey’s chief of staff Jo Bonner will visit South Alabama on Monday to tour damages following Hurricane Sally.
They will visit Flowerwood Nursery, a horticulture operation in Loxley, Alabama, severely impacted by Hurricane Sally.
Perdue, Pate and Byrne will also meet with Baldwin County farmers at a visit to Underwood Family Farm, a pecan farm in Summerdale.
Following the two stops in Alabama, Perdue will visit Jenkins Farm in Jay, Florida, a cotton farm impacted by Hurricane Sally. The secretary will hold a roundtable discussion with local Florida farmers and stakeholders impacted by Sally.
Hurricane Sally came ashore on Sept. 16 as a category two hurricane with 105 miles per hour winds and torrential rains. The wind, the downpour and then the flooding devastated crops in the area as well as blowing down trees and damaging homes and businesses.
Sally was the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama in 16 years.
“Throughout Southwest Alabama, winds and flooding have left many without essentials like power, water and shelter,” Byrne said on Thursday. “Fortunately, help is on the way.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who experienced significant damage during this powerful hurricane,” Pate said. “Alabama farmers have already faced economic hardships this year due to market instability, trade concerns and the coronavirus pandemic.”
Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia Counties have been declared a natural disaster area by the Trump administration.
“I went up to Escambia County today to check out some storm damage around Atmore and meet with local officials,” Byrne said. “Thanks to Sheriff Jackson for showing me some of the damage. It wasn’t just the coastal counties who took a beating from Hurricane Sally. Residents of Escambia County are all eligible to seek Individual Assistance from FEMA for any disaster related issues.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation has started a relief fund so that people can help Alabama farmers who were impacted by Hurricane Sally.