The bomb that ripped through the 16th Street Baptist Church 57 years ago was a predictable result of the social divisions of the early 1960s, and the nation is experiencing a similarly dangerous level of polarization now, said two prominent rights advocates who led a virtual ceremony on Tuesday commemorating the infamous event.
Rev. William Barber, who heads the nonprofit Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign, joined Richard Trumka, president of the country’s largest federation of unions, at the church to announce a formal partnership to work for social, racial and economic justice.
Trumka said the labor movement honors the bombing’s four young victims: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair.
“But our debt to this community is greater than that,” he said. “On the day the Ku Klux Klan set off the bomb, parts of the labor movement were racially segregated, including in Birmingham. The divisions and hatred that landowners and employers had been sowing since the founding of this country infected our own movement. So when the AFL-CIO fought for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, they were fighting to end discrimination and racism not just by employers, but by our own unions, our own institutions. We were fighting to change ourselves.”
With deep divisions again threatening American lives and democracy, Barber said, it is time for communities of faith to join with other groups struggling for fundamental rights in pursuit of a more perfect vision of the country.
There have always been attempts to defend a status quo that favors some over many others, willing to commit heinous violence to enforce it, he said.
“But we must remember these brutal acts were in violent response to the movement that had been achieved: The first citywide desegregation campaign in the South,” Barber said. “And it happened because faith and labor came together. Faith and labor and moral leaders and poor people came together.”
The killings were perpetrated after the movement had multiple successes by extremists who wanted to go backwards, he said. The achievement of basic rights by some was perceived as a threat to the “peace of Southern society and American society as a whole,” he said, and similar sentiments are being stoked today.
Barber said that the Civil Rights movement is too often talked about exclusively through a Black lens, although that was not the message of its leaders at the time. They emphasized the shared interests of poor people of all ethnicities, and of all marginalized communities.
“In some ways, we’re returning to what is. We’re not building so much new, but we’re embracing what has always been the necessary embrace in times of national crisis, around justice and around fundamental civil rights and economic rights,” he said.
Barber said the issues transcend President Donald Trump and the tribal state of American politics. He said that he meets people around the country of various ideologies who are dismayed with the way things are.
“What people are starting to realize is that those who push and support racist voter suppression, like Trump — it may be targeted at Black people, but the people who use those tactics to get elected, once they get elected they block living wages, they block union rights, they block health care,” Barber said.
He used Alabama as a prime example, with its majority of poor and uninsured people being white. The officials who promote policies that amount to voter suppression or who rally support with dog-whistle racism advance their agendas with lies, he said.
“Something that my grandmother taught me is if you scratch a liar, you find a thief,” Barber said.
Sewell: Confirming Barrett before the election would undermine Supreme Court’s legitimacy
“The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is clearly tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans to go back on their own promise,” Sewell said.
Saturday, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Alabama) released a statement claiming that President Donald J. Trump’s (R) nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court was tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans and that confirming Judge Barrett would undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court nomination by President Trump today, with the 2020 presidential election only 38 days away, denies the American people a voice in this very important decision,” Rep. Sewell said. “The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is clearly tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans to go back on their own promise not to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court so close to a presidential election. This standard articulated by Senate Republicans was applied against President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland eight months before the 2016 presidential election. This blatant power grab by Trump and Senate Republicans is especially disturbing given that the voting process has already begun with hundreds of thousands of voters having cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.”
“Fairness and comity demand that the Senate not confirm any vacancy on the Supreme Court until the American people have chosen the next president,” Sewell concluded. “To do otherwise, I believe would undermine the very legitimacy of the Supreme Court.”
Friday before Barrett was even nominated, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) announced that he will not support any Trump nominee for the Supreme Court for the vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. Jones stated, “I will not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee before the election.”
“Justice Ginsburg was a role model and an inspiration,” Sen. Jones said. She was a brilliant and tireless advocate, a champion for fairness and equality, and her efforts have brought our country closer to the ideals upon which it was founded.”
“It is a poor reflection of the state of our national politics that, just hours after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, we were thrust into a divisive partisan fight over her successor, denying the nation the time to mourn this extraordinary American’s death,” Jones continued. “Just weeks from a national election, we are confronting a blatant power grab by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the President that will undermine the court and subvert the will of the American people.”
“Just four years ago, Leader McConnell held open a Supreme Court seat for ten months before a presidential election because he said time and again that, in an election year, we must let the American people decide,” Jones said. “If confirming a Supreme Court justice ten months prior to a presidential election would have denied the American people a voice, then isn’t he now denying the American people a voice by rushing to confirm a justice just weeks before a presidential election?”
“I believe the answer to this question is a resounding YES,” Jones continued. “This is especially true given the urgent legislative work we have yet to do. Leader McConnell should turn his focus instead to protecting the lives and livelihoods of the American people by bringing a new bipartisan COVID-19 relief package up for a vote. We also need to pass the National Defense Authorization Act to support our military. We need to pass our annual funding bills instead of kicking the can down the road with yet another costly continuing resolution. We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which has languished in this Senate, in order to protect the right of all Americans to vote and participate in our democracy.”
“Consequently, under these circumstances, I will not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee before the election,” Jones explained. We should not force the country into a brutal and divisive partisan confirmation fight while Americans are already voting to choose the next President. If President Trump is re-elected, I will evaluate any pending or future nominee on their merits and vote for or against the nominee based solely on their qualifications.”
Trump has already appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Barack H. Obama (D) only got to select two of his nominees to the court. When conservative icon Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 – the previous election year, Republicans led by McConnell and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) blocked Obama’s appointee, Merrick Garland.
Jones also voted against previous Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. Sewell has no Republican general election opponent.
Sen. Doug Jones won’t support SCOTUS nominee before Nov. 3 election
“Certainly, power grabs are not uncommon in our political system, but few are accompanied by such blatant hypocrisy as we are witnessing now,” Jones said.
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Friday said he would not support any nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court before the outcome of the Nov. 3 election is determined.
Speaking during a livestreamed briefing, Jones said that while Republicans appear to have enough votes to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he will not be a party to denying the people a voice in the process in the election of the next president “in just under 44 days.”
President Donald Trump said Saturday that he plans to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg, who on Friday became the first woman, and first Jewish person, to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
Several Republicans who voiced opposition to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court more than 10 months before the 2016 election have reversed course, and now say they support Trump nominating a selection with election day just a little more than a month away.
“Certainly, power grabs are not uncommon in our political system, but few are accompanied by such blatant hypocrisy as we are witnessing now,” Jones said. “In fact, I believe that the level and intensity of hypocrisy being displayed by Senator McConnell and the president, with regard to the rush to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s successor, is unmatched in the history of our constitutional government.”
Jones said what McConnell and other Republicans should be focusing on instead is getting another round of much-needed COVID-19 aid to small businesses and people impacted by the pandemic.
“Rather than pushing this confirmation to the top of the Senate calendar, the majority leader should turn his focus instead to protecting the lives and livelihoods of the American people. We should pass a new bipartisan COVID-19 stimulus package to give Americans and businesses the relief that they desperately need, and that economists say if required to shore up the economy now,” Jones said.
Jones expressed concern as well for what medical experts are warning could be a new spike in COVID-19 nationwide.
“There could be an even greater urgency, if our health care professionals’ warnings come to pass,” Jones said. “And that is as temperature drops and people go indoors that this virus spikes, and we see another surge.”
Asked why his opponent, Tommy Tuberville, won’t debate Jones, he said, “It’s pretty simple. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“He has no clue. He is Coach Clueless,” Jones said.
Jones noted that when asked recently on his thoughts on extending the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020, Tuberville stumbled through an answer that indicated he wasn’t sure what the Voting Rights Act was.
“He had no earthly idea,” Jones said.
Jones said Tuberville isn’t going to debate him because Tuberville doesn’t want to talk about issues.
“He doesn’t want to talk about a plan. His plan is simply this: Whatever Donald Trump says, I’m good,” Jones said, “and if Donald Trump says or does something that is not good, it’s crickets coming from Coach Tuberville.”
Jones noted that after multiple news outlets, including Fox News, confirmed reporting that Trump had said disparaging things about veterans who died in combat, Tuberville has not spoken out against Trump’s comments.
Jennifer Griffin, senior national security correspondent for Fox News, reported that she has spoken to senior U.S. officials who backed up reporting by The Atlantic, and said Trump said of the Vietnam War “anyone who went was a sucker.”
“He has not said a thing about what was confirmed by Fox News about the president’s comment,” Jones said of Tuberville. “That’s just disgraceful.”
Merrill gives guidance on straight party, write-in voting
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill issued guidance Wednesday on straight party and write-in voting.
“Voters who wish to vote straight party for all of the Democratic or Republican candidates on their ballot may do so by filling in the bubble next to their party preference at the top of their ballot,” Merrill explained in a statement.
“If a voter wishes to vote for any candidate outside of the selected party, however, he or she may do so by filling in the bubble next to the preferred candidate’s name. In doing so, the candidate(s) voted on outside of the voter’s designated party ballot will receive the vote for that particular race.
“In addition, if a voter wishes to write-in a candidate, he or she may do so by filling in the bubble next to the box marked ‘Write-in’ and then printing the name of the preferred candidate on the designated line.
“Write-in votes must be hand-written and not stamped or otherwise artificially applied to the ballot.”
Sample ballots for the Nov. 3 general election are available online.
Opinion | For Coach Tub, no thinking required
Has Tommy Tuberville ever had an original thought? It doesn’t sound like it. Coach Tub basically spews Republican talking points and keeps his mouth firmly locked onto Donald Trump. He disrespects Alabama voters so much that he thinks that’s all he needs to do to win a place in the U.S. Senate.
Tuberville recently addressed the St. Clair County Republican Party at its September meeting. As reported by APR, Tuberville is quoted as saying the following, and I’ll offer a short rebuttal. I’m doing this because Tuberville is clearly afraid to death to debate his opponent, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.
So here goes:
Tuberville: “America is about capitalism, not socialism. I think we are going to decide which direction we are going to go in the next few years.”
Me: We decided which way we were going to go years ago, when the federal government started subsidies for oil and gas companies, farmers and other big industry and business. That, coach, is your so-called “socialism.”
I’m not necessarily opposed to subsidies to boost business, depending on the cause, but I’m not going to let a dimwitted, know-nothing, mediocre, former football coach pretend we don’t already have “socialism” in this country.
What Tuberville really means is that he’s against “socialism” like Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security or food assistance or health insurance. He’s a millionaire already, so there’s no need for him have empathy for or support a safety net for people who are less fortunate socially and economically. That’s Tuberville’s “socialism,” and the Republican Party’s “socialism,” and Trump’s “socialism.”
That’s a cruel, mean perspective that would cast aside the great majority of Americans for the rich (Tuberville, Trump) and connected and, where Trump is concerned, the fawning.
Tuberville: “I am not a Common Core guy. I believe in regular math. We need to get back to teaching history.”
Me: I would love to ask Coach Tubby, one-on-one, exactly what he thinks “Common Core” is. I’ll guarantee you he can’t explain more than he already has. “I believe in regular math?” There is no other math. It’s math. Does he think there’s a math where 1+1=3? There isn’t one. There are a variety of ways to teach math, but there’s only math, not a “fake” math or a “Republican” math or a “Democratic” math or, God forbid, a “Socialist” math.
And when Coach Tommy said, “We need to get back to teaching history,” one wonders if he’s ever been into a classroom. We know more than a few of his former players weren’t in many classrooms, if reports are correct. But they always played the game under his uninspired coaching.
Of course schools teach history.
The history Coach T. is talking about is Donald Trump’s “white” history, the one we’ve been teaching in our schools forever. Not real history; you know, the one where the United States was founded as a slave-holding nation, where Native Americans were massacred and starved by the hundreds of thousands, where white supremacy was codified within our laws, where any color but white was subjugated. That history. The history that is finally fading away, so we can really see where we’ve been as a nation—so we know where, as a nation, we need to go.
Tuberville: Tuberville said he supports following the Constitution and appointing a replacement for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.
Me: Well, of course he does. Tuberville doesn’t have an independent thought in his body, and Donnie told him this is what he’s supposed to think. The big question: How much will a Senator Tuberville be able to function as a member of a minority party in the Senate — with no Papa Trump in the White House to tell him what to do?
Both scenarios are real possibilities, if not likelihoods.
There is no question that Doug Jones is far more qualified than Tuberville. Jones can work across the aisle, which will be vitally important if Democrats take control of the Senate. Jones has his own thoughts, which sometimes go against the Democratic Party’s wishes. Jones is independent, smart and represents Alabama well.
Tuberville is a failed football coach who lives in Florida. That’s about it.