Caravan for Justice will be held to protest unjust sentencing of killer of Jimmie Lee Jackson

Jimmie Lee Jackson

Several months ago District Attorney Michael Jackson extracted a guilty plea from James Bonard Fowler, the killer of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler pleaded guilty on November 15, 2010 to a lesser charge in the shooting death of Jackson. He subsequently was sentenced to serve 6 months in jail, not in Perry County where the brutal killing took place, but in Geneva County, the county of his residence.
Jackson was shot dead in a restaurant in the city of Marion. On the night of February18, 1965, approximately 500 people left Zion United Methodist Church in Marion and attempted a peaceful walk to the Perry County Jail about a half a block away where SCLC field worker, James Orange was being held. A line of Marion City police, sheriff’s deputies and Alabama State Troopers met them. Streetlights were abruptly turned off and the police began to beat the protestors. Then 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson with his mother and grandfather ran into Mack’s Café behind the church and were pursued by Alabama State Troopers. When the troopers began to attack them in the restaurant, Jimmie Lee tried to protect his mother. Fowler shot him twice in the abdomen. Jackson died at Good Samaritan Hospital eight days later.
Jimmie Lee Jackson’s death prompted the call for a march from Selma to Montgomery on March 7, 1965. It ended when Alabama State Troopers attacked the peaceful voting rights marchers. That day became known as Bloody Sunday and helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
District Attorney Michael Jackson, who in 2005 became the first black prosecutor elected to serve Selma and surrounding counties including Perry Co., reopened the case and took it before a county grand jury, which indicted Fowler on a murder charge in May 2007.
Chapters of the SCLC, New South Coalition, Grass Roots Democracy and other groups will gather at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on February 18, 2011 in protest. Justice was not served in the sentencing of James Bonard Fowler.
The group, The Caravan for Justice, will take a slow ride to Geneva County and hold a vigil around the jail where James Bonard Fowler is serving his “sentence”.
The jails are filled with Black men accused of far less hideous crimes whose sentences are far greater.
Forty-six years after the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson and Bloody Sunday, The Caravan for Justice will high light the injustices that still exist in the Criminal Justice System.
The Caravan will begin at the Foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on February 18, 2011 and culminate with Jimmie Lee Jackson Day in Marion on February 20th at 2 p.m. at the Marion Baptist Academy.
President Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright will be the featured speaker for this event.
There will also be demonstrations of concern at the annual Bridge Crossing march reenactment on Sunday, March 6, 2011 leaving Brown Chapel Church at 2:00 p.m. (See Jubilee Schedule on Page 6 of this issue).
We invite all who are willing to join us in The Caravan for Justice at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on February 18, 2011.
For more information contact Faya Toure’ at (334) 526-2626.

Shelby focuses on national debt at Town Hall meeting in Eutaw


Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele introduces Senator Richard Shelby at Eutaw Town Hall meeting

Between 15 and 20 people gathered at the Eutaw City Hall on Saturday, February 12th to listen to and question U.S. Senator Richard Shelby.
The main focus of Shelby’s message was the debt that the United States had incurred.
According to Shelby, in 1990, the national debt was $3.206 trillion. By 2010, the debt had soared to $13.5 trillion and was projected to reach $24.055 trillion by 2021.
“We are still a wealthy country,” he said. “We produce more manufactured goods and more food and fiber than any other country. Our greatest challenge is our debt. It affects our economy. It will limit our options as to infrastructure and industrial development. We need a strong economic base to survive.”
According to Shelby, the budget for this year is three trillion, three hundred billion dollars. He said the United States will have to borrow at least 40% of this from the Chinese.
He also talked about education and the percentage of dropouts. “Our prisons are full of high school dropouts,” he said.
Several people in the audience spoke disparagingly about the proposed changes to the health care program. Shelby replied that the main thing to consider was whether or not the country could afford the plans. “I am going to be the top Senator on the Health Committee and I am going to try and prevent the funding,” he said.
“What we in Congress need to do,” said Shelby. “is to look at every program we have created in the past 50 years and see if we need them. We need to have hearings and dig deeply into these programs.”
Other questions asked included additional funding for Coskata, the future of the U. S Post Office and immigration.
Shelby addressed each question and said the additional funding would be hard to get; that the future of the post office did not look too bright for the smaller units and that the United States is having to go overseas to find qualified people for many of our more technical jobs. “I think we should drain the world of talent,” he said, speaking of how the German immigrants during World War II helped push the United States ahead in various technical fields.
He also spoke about bringing about $700 million in funding to various projects at the University of Alabama and Auburn University, but said the county and city would have to go to the state government for more funding for highway projects.
Shelby said the current administration was very short-sighted when it came to off-shore drilling and that the drilling could be done safely.
“Will we have accidents – yes,” he said, but indicated that the pros on drilling far offset the negatives.

County Commission creates Financial Review Board, cannot reach agreement on appointment of County Attorney

In a meeting which lasted more than two hours, the Greene County Commission took several steps to ensure continued financial stability but were unable to get a majority on who was to be county attorney.
They unanimously agreed on the creation of a Financial Review Board charged with conducting detailed reviews of cash receipts and cash disbursements, meeting with staff and external auditors to clear audit findings and reviewing revenues in detail each month. They also agreed to hire a Finance Manager by April 1, 2011.
Appointed to this board was Commissioners Allen Turner and Nick Underwood, Tiffany Grisby from Citizens Federal Bank and Ralph Banks from Merchants and Farmers Bank.
However, after several votes they could not come to an agreement on who was to be the County Attorney.
Commissioner Tennyson Smith nominated Prince Chestnut, the current attorney. This motion died for lack of a second.
Commissioner Marvin Childs nominated Katie Campbell. This motion also died for lack of a second.
Commissioner Elzora Fluker nominated Hank Sanders. Commissioner Allen Turner seconded the motion, but only four commissioners voted and they were hopelessly deadlocked with two for and two against.
Chairman Nick Underwood had recused himself from voting, saying he had “an ethical obligation.” The matter was tabled until the next meeting. Later it was learned that a call meeting will be held on February 22 at 6 p.m. to decide this important matter.
In other business, the Commission:
*Was told that the county had a cash and cash equivalency balance of $2,465,899.29
*Authorized the payment of claims in the amount of $270,099.37.
*Authorized advertising for a License Inspector for the Mandatory Garbage Collection. They decided on April 15, 2011 as the beginning date for the mandatory garbage collection.
*Accepted the resignation of Troy Summerville from the PARA Board.
*Made the following Board Appointments:
County Personnel Board – Willie M. Walton
County Water Authority – Levi Morrow, Jr.
County Industrial Board – Debbie Duncan and Warren Burke.
County Housing Authority – Katy Powell
County Park and Recreation Board – Melvin Robertson, Willis Smith, Wanda Carpenter Morrow and Regina Harris.
*Approved and authorized a resolution regulating the use of roadways in the county relating to timber harvesting. All timber production companies are required to get a permit from the Greene County Public Works Department before cutting any timber. The permit holder will be responsible for keeping and maintaining the roadway leaving them in similar conditions as they were prior to the onset of timber harvest operations not allowing any equipment to be parked on a county roadway or right of way, not disturbing any ditches adjacent to the county road and paying for damage to the roadways.
*Assigned Emergency Management Operations to Iris Sermon, director of 911.
*Reappointed Bonnie Miller for two years as agent to inspect violations of animal cruelty laws for Greene County.
*Denied the request of Coroner Ronald Smith to travel to a Coroner’s meeting in Perdido Beach Resort because the funding for the trip was not in his budget.
*Denied a similar travel request from the RSVP Coordinator to travel to an annual meeting in Perdido Beach Resort.
The commission adjourned but will meet again on February 22 at 6 p.m.

Bridge Crossing Commemoration and Jubilee March 3 -7


Thousands of people annually cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge as part of the annual Jubilee in Selma.

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee annual commemoration of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery March is the largest annual event in America that commemorates the struggle and successes of the Civil Rights Movement.
Held in historic Selma, Ala., March 3-7th at and near the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the 5 day event attracts over 25,000 people, which has included President Clinton, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. John Lewis, the King family, Rev. Al Sharpton, Harry Belafonte, Dick Gregory, Vivica Fox, Young Joc, Outkast, Master P, Ambassadors, and countless living legends and foot soldiers.
The weekend includes a golf tournament, the Freedom Flame Awards Banquet, a Unity Breakfast, and an all day music festival on Water Avenue on March 5th. The March Re-enactment and 37 other events, consisting of many free events such as the Intergenerational Youth Summit, a Parade, a film festival, the Mock Trial, the Women’s Hall of Fame, a Health Fair and A Public Conversation, will be held on March 4th, 5th, and 6th, 2011.
Confirmed presenters include Congressman James Clyburn, Dick Gregory, Tom Burrell, author of Brainwashed: Dispelling the Myth of Black Inferiority, Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe, daughter of Viola Liuzzo and Bernard Lafayette, movie star Rockmond Dunbar and Public Enemy Professor Griff.
The following acts will perform at the festival: Hip Hop Stage, Rich Kids, V.I.C. (Wobble Dance Line Song); Blues Stage, Lenny Williams, Big Robb, Gospel Stage, Paul Porter, Keith “Wonder Boy” Johnson, the Freedom Singers, and many more.
Come meet and hear the stories of the people who paved the way from the Bridge to the White House. All roads lead to Selma on March 3-7th where history can be down right fun and inspiring.
Sponsors are Wallace Community College, the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, the City of Selma, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, The Bridge Crossing Jubilee, Inc., and American Airlines,
For a complete schedule go to http://www.selmajubilee.com and for more information please contact The Jubilee Office at 334-526-2626 or The National Voting Rights Museum & Institute, 334-418-0800.

President Obama’s former pastor to be Jimmie Lee Jackson Day speaker on February 20, 2011

Rev. Jeremiah Wright


Jimmy Lee Jackson

The annual Jimmy Lee Jackson Day and Perry County Civic League Anniversary will be held this year on February 20, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at the Marion Baptist Academy, in Marion Alabama. The facility is located at 400 Centreville Street. The featured speaker of the day will be the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright.
This event is to celebrate the life and commemorate the death of Jimmy Lee Jackson, a martyr of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Reverend Dr. Wright pastored the Trinity United Methodist Church on Chicago’s Southside for more than 30 years.
He served as President Barack Obama’s pastor for more than 20 years and performed the wedding ceremony for President Obama and his wife Michelle Obama.
Reverend Wright preaches a socialist religion message better known as Black Gospel. The fiery preacher from Chicago is world renown for his tell it like it is messages of Black self help. Reverend Wright got national attention when in a speech before his congregation in 2003 he dammed America for its hate and abuse of African Americans and for turning its back on the promise American made to her citizens. Reverend Wright was a lightening rod during the 2008 Presidential campaign when the speech was discovered by television news. Many political forecasters believed that Reverend Wright’s speeches and style of delivery would derail President Obama’s chance at become President.

Jimmy Lee Jackson

Forty-six years ago a young African American was gunned down in Marion, Alabama by Alabama State Troopers in Mack’s Café. His death led to the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. That young man was known to most as Jimmie Lee.
Jimmie Lee Jackson was born in Marion, Alabama, on 16 December 1938.
At age 26, the former soldier was the youngest deacon in his church, the father of a young daughter, and worked as a laborer.
On the night Jackson was shot, he marched with his sister, mother, and 82-year-old grandfather, and other protesters from Zion United Methodist Church, where King’s colleague C. T. Vivian had just spoken, toward the city jail where Rev. James Orange, a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), had been imprisoned earlier that day.
When the local police, aided by state troopers, violently broke up the march, demonstrators ran back to the church, nearby houses, and businesses for safety.
In the melee, Jackson and his family sought refuge with others in Mack’s Café. Troopers followed the protesters inside and began beating people. An Alabama state trooper shot Jimmie Lee Jackson in the stomach as he tried to protect his mother from being beaten. After Jackson was shot, troopers chased him outside and continued to beat him until he collapsed. In addition to Jackson, at least half a dozen others were hospitalized for the blows they received from troopers. Jackson died from his wounds eight days later.
In the weeks following Jackson’s death, SCLC organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capitol. Jackson’s death was “the catalyst that produced the march to Montgomery.”
On 7 March 1965, the day the march first set off from Selma, Sheriff Jim Clark’s deputies attacked demonstrators with tear gas, batons, and whips. Images of the attack were nationally televised and at least one network interrupted regular programming to broadcast the violence of “Bloody Sunday.”
The national attention that this broadcast drew created an awareness of the disenfranchment of African American citizens, particularly in the South, and ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in August of that year.
Each year, in Selma, this march is recreated on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the first full weekend in March.
Reverend Wright will receive the Drum Major for Justice Award during the 46th celebration of the Perry County Civic League and Jimmie Jackson Day. This is the highest award given by the Perry County Civic League which is headed by Commissioner Albert Turner, Jr.
The award has been received by such notables as: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Judge Greg Mathis to name a few. Turner cites Reverend Wright’s long standing fight to seek equality for all as the reason for his nomination to receive this award.

Eutaw City Council debates budget and finances, selection of police chief and grant applications


Eutaw Council L-R Councilwoman Sheila Smith, Councilman Joe L. Powell, Councilwoman Hattie Edwards, Mayor Raymond Steele, City Clerk Peggy Stripling, Councilman Ralph Liverman and Councilman David Spencer. Pictured in audience is Mr. Levi Morrow.

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

In its first three meetings for 2011, on January 11 and 25 and February 8, the Eutaw City Council has debated budget and finances, the procedure for selecting a new police chief and matters related to Federal and state infrastructure grant applications.
The debate on substantive issues goes on in a continuing climate of distrust and animosity between Mayor Raymond Steele and members of the City Council concerning management and control of the City’s finances, policies and direction.
In the January 11th meeting, the Council heard a report from West Alabama Regional Commission (WARC) concerning rejection of a CDBG grant request that was submitted to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for a water tank, as well as repairs and maintenance of the city’s water system.
Eutaw’s grant application lost competitive points because the City’s water rates were not high enough to meet ADECA standards, engineering fees were too high, no local match was provided, the life expectancy of the project was only 15 years compared to 50 years which was preferred by ADECA and other factors.
The Council voted to have WARC resubmit the application with adjustments for the areas where points were lost for the next round of competition which closes at the end of February.
At that same meeting, Councilman Ralph Liverman presented a draft budget for the current fiscal year which began on October 1, 2010 and ends September 30, 2011. Liverman said, “As best as I can tell this is the first time in history that the Eutaw City Council has actually prepared and reviewed a budget document.”
The Council adopted the budget for 2010-2011 as presented. The General Fund Budget adopted included projected revenues of $1,673,950 and projected expenditures of $1,618,663, leaving a projected surplus of $55,287. The projected expenditures include $458,869 for Administration, $578,175 for the Police Department, $215,048 for the Street Department, $22,000 for the Fire Department, $29,237 for Janitorial Expenses, $99,334 for the Sewer Department, and $216,000 for the Sanitation Department.
The budget adopted for the Water Fund included projected revenues of $879,000 and projected expenditures of $877,857, leaving a projected surplus of $l,143.
Projected expenditures include $34,700 for administration, $463,157 for operations, and $380,000 for non-departmental expenses.
Liverman said, “The adoption of the budget is an important step in getting better control of city finances. However we need to improve on this process so that the council members and the public can get a better understanding of the city’s finances. The figures in the budget were based on revenues and expenditures from previous years. I feel fairly confident about the projected revenues but less so as to projected expenditures. We need to get a better budgetary accounting system that will give us up-to-date amounts each month and allow us to plan for unforeseen events, such as equipment breakdowns, water line leaks and other emergencies.”
After voting on the budget, the Council voted to give $30,000 to 9-1-1 Emergency Management for necessary operations.
Councilman Powell spoke to the need for repair of the streets in Branch Heights and Councilwomen Sheila H. Smith mentioned problems of pot holes in the library parking lot which hampers people from using the services at the library. Mayor Steele said, “the City does not have the funds to repair and maintain all of the roads and streets in the City or to fix all of the problems with utilities and community facilities like the library. This is why we are seeking state and Federal grant funds for these things.” Powell said he was setting up a meeting on February 28 in Branch Heights to discuss repair of the streets in his Council district.
In the June 25th meeting the Council received its audit report for the past fiscal year ending September 30, 2010 from James Gardner, CPA of Demopolis. Gardner reviewed the audit and said the City of Eutaw had received an unqualified opinion indicating that the financial statements accurately reflected the financial condition of the City. Gardner did recommend that the City update its computer softwear since the technology in use was “several generations behind what was currently available and being used by other similar municipalities.” Gardner said it would cost $5,000 to $10,000 to upgrade the softwear systems. Councilmember Liverman asked the auditor to recommend some specifications and options for the softwear upgrade, so the Council could act on them in a future meeting.
The Council also voted not to fund a $30,000 contract with Almon and Associates, an engineering company, recommended by Mayor Steele, because funds were limited and they did not want to design additional projects until some of those already proposed had been completed. Mayor Steele said the Council was being shortsighted in not planning ahead and doing the engineering and environmental assessments necessary to project new water, sewer and community facility projects.

Appointment of Police Chief

Councilman David Spencer raised the issue of the procedure for selection of a new Police Chief to fill the position held by the late Tommy Summerville, who died in late December. The Mayor said he was soliciting applications until January 31st and then he would review and interview the applicants and make a recommendation to the City Council for their approval.
Spencer, who is chair of the Council Police Committee, asked if he could review the applications and make input to the process. At first, the Mayor would not agree to any participation by Spencer or members of the Police Committee (Liverman and Powell) due to confidentiality of information on the resumes and other concerns. After much discussion and consultation with Mike Smith, City Attorney, Council-women Smith proposed a motion that the Police Committee would be able to review the applications for Police Chief in the Mayor’s office after signing a confidentiality agreement. This motion was approved by a majority of the Council.
Elliot Waters, a Fish and Game officer, who has had the required police training, was approved to serve as a part time officer. In the February 8th meeting in response to questions from the Council, Mayor Steele said that he had received numerous applications for police chief and shared them with Councilman Spencer to review. Steele said he had not had time to review the applications in depth and decide which applicants to interview to make his recommendations to the Council. In response to Councilman Spencer request for Police Committee involvement and input in the selection process, Steele said he would operate in accordance with the City ordinance and make his recommendations to the Council at the appropriate time. He seemed unwilling to accept any advice or input from the Council Police Committee in the selection process.
The Mayor also indicated that he had made efforts but had not yet set up a meeting with ADECA, USDA Rural Development, Delta Regional Authority (DRA) or Senator Richard Shelby’s office on plans to proceed with a $297,000 sewer improvement grant, first approved for the City in 2004 through the DRA. Several Council members have been concerned that the city will lose these funds unless action is taken to begin this project.
The Mayor has been working on setting up a meeting with the concerned parties since mid-October 2010 – so far without results. Some Council members feel the City will not be approved for any new water or sewer projects until this sewage improvement grant, approved by DRA almost seven years ago is started.

Library gets five new computers

Greene County Librarian Marilyn Gibson is shown here observing Trevor Johnson with the Alabama Public Library Service as he installs new McIntosh computers.
Gibson obtained a $7,600 grant to purchase five new computers for use by the patrons of the James C. Poole Memorial Library.
The library already has a number of computers, but each day there is a long waiting list of both youth and adults who want to use them.
Gibson says she has been applying for every grant for which the library is eligible.
With the closure of electronic bingo at Greenetrack, the library lost a substantial amount of funding and is dependent upon state funding, grants and donations from patrons.
Gibson estimated that dozens of patrons use the computers each day the library is open.
“There are youth using our computers to look up facts for their school work, adults checking out facts, college students using them for research. I feel that it is a great thing for us to be able to provide computer access to the people of Greene County. Not everyone owns a computer, and having easy access to them in their community library is very much of a convenience.
“We welcome everyone to use the library. Not only do we have computers, but naturally we have the latest best sellers, many reference books, and special programs throughout the year for the youth

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