Senate Sketches #1395- March 4, 2014
The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going. Fifty cars, fifty cities. Throw in vans and a few buses. Every part of the Caravan is moving toward freedom. The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going.
Why the Freedom Riders Caravan? Because our hard earned voting rights are under relentless attack. There are the insidious voter Photo ID laws that deny millions the right to vote. There is the ruthless Supreme Court gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. There are reduced voting days and voting hours. There are a myriad of additional restrictions on registering and voting already enacted and other proposals moving through state legislatures. But the Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going.
What is the Freedom Riders Caravan? It’s determined people moving together from various places toward Washington, D. C. to fight the forces that are taking our voting rights. It’s determined people using what they have to secure the right to vote for themselves and succeeding generations. It’s riding, walking, crawling and flying for freedom.
Who is moving the Freedom Riders Caravan? Well it is sponsored by SOS – Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy. SOS is made up of 35-40 organizations committed to Justice and Democracy. Most organizations are Alabama based. But it also includes everyone fighting to secure, expand and protect voting rights. The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going.
Where is the Freedom Riders Caravan? It is in our minds, in our hearts and in our spirits. It is also on the ground in the form of waiting cars, vans, and buses. It will start from many places – Selma, Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and many other places. Some will stop at certain state capitols to communicate our concerns and demonstrate our determination.
When is the Freedom Riders Caravan? It is now, moving in our spirit. However, the cars and vans and buses will leave next week, moving in the spirit of freedom toward one place. Some of us will start in Selma on Monday morning, March 10. We will stop in Montgomery at the Alabama State Capitol for a rally and in Tuskegee for lunch. We will rally in Atlanta at the Georgia State Capitol. We will rally at the State Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. We will rally at the State Capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina and at the State Capitol in Richmond, VA. The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going. Are you in that number?
The ultimate destination for the Freedom Riders Caravan is Washington, D. C., the seat of our nation’s government. We will rally at the U. S. Supreme Court which gutted the Voting Rights Act. We will go to the U. S. Congress demanding that they put the guts back in the Voting Rights Act. The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going. Are you in that number?
Some say it will not do any good to go to these state capitols or the nation’s capital. They say the political obstacles are too great to overcome. I beg to differ. Let me remind you that they said the same things in 1965. “There is no way Congress will pass a voting rights act,” said the President. “There is no way Congress is going to pass a voting rights act,” said Congressional leaders and political pundits. But then a Freedom Caravan moved.
On Sunday, March 7, 1965, 550 brave souls set out to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest denial of voting rights and the brutal killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson of Marion, Alabama. The people were beaten so badly on/or near the Edmund Pettus Bridge that the incident came to be known as Bloody Sunday. Then there was the Selma to Montgomery March with 25,000 or more souls marching. It was a Freedom Walker’s Caravan. The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going.
In August, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. It was the strongest piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted by the U. S. Congress and Section 5 was its heart. In 2006, the U. S. Congress extended Section 5 for another 25 years. In 2013, Section 5 was gutted by the U. S. Supreme Court in the Alabama case of Shelby County vs. Holder. The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going. Are you in that number?
There is a role for you and me in the Freedom Riders Caravan. There is a price to pay for the freedom we seek. Everybody has a part to play. Everybody has a price to pay in securing our freedom. Are you in that number? Come on, get in the Freedom Riders Caravan with your auto or ride with someone else. Come on! Come on!! Come on!!! The Freedom Riders Caravan is a coming and a going.
Now on to the Daily Diary.
Saturday, February 22, 2014 – I walked my usual two miles, cooked breakfast for the grandchildren, handled various matters, traveled to Bibb County to speak on Black History at a church service, shared dinner with Church members, returned to Selma and worked into the night. I communicated with the following: Charles Sanders, Mattie Hargwood, Vester Mae Vance and James Hargwood, of Bibb County; Latoya Colvin and Vanessa Gaines of Jefferson County; and Ivy Anderson and Joseph Anderson of Maryland.
Sunday – I walked and did radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy and Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard. I traveled to Perry County to teach Sunday School and speak on Black History at a Church Service. I returned to Selma for Sunday Dinner with Dr. Fannie McKenzie and Bobby McKenzie and work deep into the night. I communicated with many including the following: Pastor Fairest Cureton of Zion United Methodist Church in Marion; Marion Businessman Elijah Rollins; and Altacia Childs of Perry County.
Monday – I walked, handled many matters, attended a meeting involving the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Voting Rights Struggle, participated in several conference calls, traveled to Lowndes County and returned to Selma. I communicated with the following: Felecia Pettway of Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS); Gloria Pompey, Brenda Miles and Sam Walker of Selma; Ginger Avery Buckner of the Alabama Association for Justice; Bill Fletcher of Tennessee; Terry Michel of Huntsville; Frank Barragan of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ); Lowndes County Commissioners Robert Harris, Dickson Farrior, Brent Crenshaw, Joey Bargainier and Carnell McCalpine and Administrator Jackie Thomas. I worked into the night.
Tuesday – I walked, participated in a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting, traveled to Montgomery for several meetings, a Senate Session, a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting, and a SOS Rally. I communicated with the following: Ola Morrow of Maplesville; Dr. James Mitchell and Rita Lett of WCCS; Veronica Williams of Selma; Dr. Henry Mabry of the Alabama Education Association (AEA); John Mitchell of Rainbow PUSH; Connie Tucker of Atlanta; Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd; Theron Stokes of AEA; Joe Keffer of California; Josh Hayes of Tuscaloosa; former State Senator Zeb Little; Barbara Howard of Tuskegee University; John Haygood of Montgomery; Shelley Fearson of Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC); Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery; Senator Vivian Davis Figures; Consultant Chris Barrineau; Holly Caraway of the Senate Minority Leader Office; Ingrid Chatmon of ACIJ; Norris Green of the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO); and Pastor Courtney Meadows.
Wednesday – Rain prevented me from walking. I handled various matters, traveled to Montgomery for a Finance Taxation and Education Committee meeting and a Senate Session which lasted into the night before returning to Selma. I communicated with the following: Captain Keith Jackson of Alabama State Troopers; Franklin Fortier of Selma; Cheryl Lowery of Atlanta; Blanca Jimenez of Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Office; Ollion Wright of Alex City; Senator Tripp Pittman; Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh; Representative John Knight; Claire Austin of Montgomery; Ron Buford of Alabama Power Company; Michael Davis of Birmingham; Wayne Vardaman of the Selma Centre for Commerce; Dr. Joe Reed of ADC (the Alabama Democratic Conference); Ralph Paige of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (the Federation); TV interviews with George McDonald; and Jabo Waggoner. I worked into the night.
Thursday – I walked, handled various matters, traveled to Montgomery for a Senate Session that lasted into the night, participated in several conference calls, started Sketches, returned to Selma and worked until midnight. I communicated with the following: Anne Wheeler of the LBJ Library; Joe Keffer of California; Dr. Ernest Okeke of Selma; Yvonne Lowery Kennedy of Birmingham; Gladys Dunston of North Carolina; Senators Quinton Ross, Marc Keahey, Bobby Singleton, Tammy Irons, Billy Beasley, Roger Bedford and Rodger Smitherman.
Friday I walked, handled many matters, traveled to Tuscaloosa for a Black History Program at Stillman College, returned to Selma and worked into the night. I communicated with the following: Youlanda Curtis of Washington County; Carolyn Gaines-Varner of Selma; Pearlie Duncan and Dr. Eddie Thomas of Stillman College; Sophia Bracy Harris of FOCAL; Gadsden Businesswoman Dr. Roberta Watts; Elouise Robinson and James Robinson of Baldwin County; Lena Watford of Stillman College; and Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford.
EPILOGUE – Sometimes the odds are against us but we move forward anyway. When we do, we forge freedom and we forge history.