Alabama New South Coalition

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ANSC Purpose

The purpose of the Alabama New South Coalition is to promote the general welfare of all people through independent focused organizations dedicated to progressive ideals of freedom, justice and democracy. Our specific objectives are to effect solutions to social, economic and community problems by constructively promoting:

  • Community Focused Organization
  • Voter Registration and Education
  • Economic Development
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Leadership Development
  • Youth Development
  • Progressive Legislation, and; to coalesce and assist organizations with similar objectives.[1]

History

The Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) was officially founded on January 25, 1986 in Birmingham. Citizens came from across Alabama to its organizing convention and voted unanimously to establish the organization. As it was envisioned, the organization would hold no ties to any particular political party and would be open to persons of all races with a vision for a “New South.”

The first Selma meeting took place on November 22, 1985 when more than 60 persons met to discuss the pros and cons of forming the organization. At the conclusions of the meeting, it was decided that the Alabama New South Coalition would be formed through a convention in Birmingham on January 24 and 25. It was agreed that each county would be represented according to its “potential membership population.

The group that met in Selma began what some viewed as the virtually impossible task of organizing a successful organization throughout a statewide convention in less than six weeks.

More than 1200 people participated in the two day gathering. By the time the question, “Shall we form the Alabama New South Coalition? The New South had risen. Mayor Richard Arrington the first African-American mayor of Birmingham Alabama was elected President, and Attorney J.L. Chestnut, Attorney for Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Selma Civil Rights Campaign and Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March, was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dr. Carol Zippert of Greene County was elected ANSC State Treasurer and Ms. Virginia Volker of Birmingham was elected as ANSC’s first State Secretary.

The two most active leaders in creating ANSC willingly took supporting offices. Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, currently the Chair of Alabama’s 4 Billion Dollar Education Trust Fund Budget, became Chair of the Seventh Congressional District, and Senator Michael Figures of Mobile, Alabama’s first President Pro Tem of the Senate, and highest ever African-American elected state official became first vice president of ANSC.

A central office was opened on historic Dexter Avenue in Montgomery. Shortly, thereafter, official chapters were established in 40 counties. On May 9 and 10, 1986, the first ANSC Endorsement Convention was held in Mobile. Reverend Jesse Jackson delivered the first ever keynote convention address. Under the leadership of attorney Rose Sanders, ANSC inaugurated the 21st Century Leadership Training camp which was attended by more than 150 youth from throughout Alabama. ANSC became and has remained a major force in Alabama Politics and all fields of human endeavor, with the unifying goal of its members being to “Making a change for the better in our lifetime.”[2]

Officers

State Officers/Board Members

Board Officers

Dirty tactics

Circa 2014 Alabama New South Coalition disseminating a mailer to black households around the state warning them that if they do not vote, the state will be controlled by “extremists” who will take away their “right to speak,” continuously conduct drug raids “only in the Black community,” and “honor klansmen,” among other things.

ANSC was founded in Birmingham in 1986 and featured Jesse Jackson as its first convention speaker. One of its founders was Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), who continues to serve as the group’s president emeritus. Sen. Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), the current minority leader in the Alabama senate, also serves on the group’s board of officers.

Sanders has frequently used similar racially charged campaign tactics in the past.

In 2010 he warned voters in a robocall that Alabama would go “back to the cotton fields of Jim Crow days” if Republicans rose to power.

In 2013, Sanders joined Louis Farrakhan in leading a mass protest across Alabama of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.[4]

"Vote or die"

The Alabama New South Coalition met for its Fall Convention at the Montgomery Windcreek Casino on Saturday, November 2, 2017. The convention was well attended with over 200 delegates from twenty active chapters around the state.

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The ANSC Convention was dedicated to creating interest and excitement in the December 12, Special Election for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Jeff Sessions. Democrat Doug Jones is running against Republican Roy Moore in a contest with state and national implications that is five weeks away.

The ANSC Convention featured a panel on youth involvement in politics and voting, a play about counteracting voter apathy, a report from county chapters on activities in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ and luncheon speeches from two 2018 gubernatorial hopefuls – Sue Bell Cobb and Walt Maddox- and introduction of other candidates for next year.

The youth panel spoke about ways to motivate voters 18 to 40 to more actively participate in elections by utilizing social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach out to millennials on issues of concern to them. William Scott, panel moderator said he was working as the webmaster for the Vote Or Die Campaign Facebook account and for members and chapters to mail in reports and photos of activities that they want posted to this Facebook account.

Several ANSC chapters gave short reports on their work in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ across the state.

  • Sam Walker from Dallas County reported that they meet once a week on Thursdays and hold rallies holding ‘Vote Or Die’ signs as human billboards at the bridge in Selma and other sites around the city. We ask motorists to honk their horns in support of the campaign.
  • Billy Billingsley of Gadsden is using voter lists from several organizations to do phone banking and door to door canvassing.
  • Rebecca Marion of Tallapoosa County said her group was busy putting out Vote Or Die signs and canvassing for absentee voters.
  • John Harris of Lee County said his chapter was meeting with ministers to help get out the vote. The chapter is also going into the jail, visiting barbershops, and going door-to-door for registration and absentee ballots.
  • Esther Brown said her Project Hope death row prisoners were contacting family and friends to urge them to register and vote in this upcoming Special Election.
  • Herman Mixon and Beulah Toney of Madison County reported on efforts to register people at community centers and A & M University. They are using social media to reach and motivate high school and college youth.
  • Matilda Hamilton of Tallapoosa County had registered 153 new voters through the school system and was participating in rallies together with Lee County.
  • Gus Townes reported that Montgomery County was working on voter registration; also focusing on ex-felons and working with churches to reach and register 1,000 new voters before the November 27, 2017 closing date before the Special Election.
  • Rev. Hugh Morris from Talladega County said ANSC, ADC, NAACP, fraternities and sororities were working together to canvas, register and turn out voters. Michael Scales, ANSC Talladega County Chapter President said they were working with Talladega College, pastors and others on the campaign.
  • Everett Wess of Jefferson County said the ANSC Chapter was partnering with other groups, had participated in the tailgating leading up to the Magic City Classic football game and other community gatherings to register voters and spread the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’.
  • Carol Zippert reported for Greene County that 50 high school students were registered and assisted with proper photo ID’s. A large community meeting was held to explore community issues like the future of the hospital and healthcare, recreational programs for youth and voting. U. S. Senate Candidate Doug Jones listened to the discussion and made remarks at the end. Greene County is now concentrating on absentee ballots and walk-in early voters for the next four weeks.
  • A Macon County representative spoke on involving Tuskegee University Students in doing voter registration and canvassing leading up to the special election.
  • Senator Hank Sanders reported that he has cut radio and TV ads promoting the importance of voting that are available to be sent to stations around the state. He said he participated in human billboards in Selma to promote the “Vote Or Die Campaign’.

Faya Rose Toure and a group from Selma and other counties did a role-play skit about voter apathy and reasons people give for not voting and how to counteract those concerns. The play was well received by ANSC members.

At the closing luncheon, ANSC members heard from two Democratic candidates who are planning to run in the June 2018 primary. [Sue Bell Cobb], former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said she proposes an Alabama lottery to generate funds for childcare, K-12 public education and closing the gap between Pell Grants and the cost of college tuition.

Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa said he was running for Governor, “to build a brighter future for Alabama and make Alabama a better state for everyone.” He highlighted his record of rebuilding Tuscaloosa after the April 2011 tornadoes and making it the ninth fastest growing city in America.

Rev. Will Boyd of Florence announced that he was planning to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Audri Scott Williams indicated that she was running for U. S. House of Representatives for District 2 against incumbent Martha Roby. Everett Wess stated he was running for Jefferson County Probate Judge – Place 1.[5]

Endorsed Terri Sewell

The Alabama New South Coalition endorsed Terri Sewell in the 7th Congressional District Democratic runoff, state Sen. Hank Sanders said June 22, 2010.

Sewell was the favorite by more than 2-to-1 in a Monday night meeting in Tuscaloosa of the New South delegates from around the congressional district, said Sanders.

Sewell, a Birmingham attorney with family roots in Selma, is in the July 13 runoff for the Democratic nomination with Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot. Smoot has been endorsed by the state's other black political organization, the Alabama Democratic Conference.

New South had endorsed state Rep. Earl Hilliard, Jr. of Birmingham in the primary, but he finished third.[6]

Ride to Revive Section 5

A group of sixty community activists from Alabama went to Washington, D. C. in six vans from Sunday to Tuesday (June 24-27, 2017) to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), HR 2948, introduced last week by Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell.

The bill was introduced on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs, Holder decision, which gutted Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and advance Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to include 14 states and other political subdivisions. These areas would again be placed under the protection of Section 5 and be required to have any election changes pre-cleared by the Department of Justice before they could be implanted.

The VRAA updates the criteria and establishes a nationwide coverage formula for states and political subdivisions that would be subject again to the pre-clearance provisions of Section 5. Any state that has had 15 or more voting violations in the last 25-year period; or 10 or more voting violations, at least one of the violations committed by the state itself, would be covered. A political subdivision within a state can be covered if it commits 3 or more voting violations.

The bill also carefully defines what constitutes a voting rights violation and which election changes must be submitted for pre-clearance. Congresswoman Terri Sewell said, “The VRAA is an advancement bill, it advances voting rights throughout the country. Under this bill, all eleven states that were part of the Confederacy, including Alabama, as well as other political subdivisions around the nation and on tribal lands would be covered and subject to the pre-clearance provisions.”

The VRAA would classify voting changes such as strict voter photo identification requirements, and voter registration requirements to be reviewed and possibly overturned if they were deemed to be more stringent than the requirements in Section 303b of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.The VRAA, HR 2948, has 182 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. They are all Democrats. And the companion legislation S.1490 in the Senate has 46 co-sponsors, also all Democrats, so far.

The grassroots voting activists visited more than 75 Congressional offices, including the membership of the House Judiciary Committee, . The grassroots activists left a package of information including factsheets on the legislation, a Senate Sketches by State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, which deals with the “power of one vote”, and materials about the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, the first weekend in March each year.

On Tuesday morning, the Alabama group joined by other activists in Washington from the Rural Coalition, Food and Water Watch, National Family Farm Coalition and other groups had a rally and press conference on the Capitol grounds facing the Cannon House Office Building on Independence Avenue and First Street NE.

The rally had many chants supporting the revival of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act along with civil rights freedom songs. Several Congresspersons, including Terri Sewell, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Marc Veasey of Dallas, Texas and Katherine Clark of Massachusetts addressed the rally. Congressman John Lewis drove by the rally on Independence Avenue and saluted the crowd. On Monday night, the group had a meeting at Howard University Law School, which was addressed by several civil rights veterans, including former D. C. Congressman Walter Fauntroy, Viola Bradford, who wrote for the Southern Courier newspaper in Montgomery, Antonio Harrison, a former Alabama State Senator, who lives and works in D. C. Professor Ardua of the Law School spoke on the need for reparations to address the continuing impact of slavery on Black people.

The Ride to Revive Section 5 was sponsored by the SOS Coalition for Justice and Democracy, Alabama New South Coalition and other local groups in Alabama.[7]

Meeting Doug Jones

Dr. Carol Zippert; John Zippert, ANSC State President; Gus Townes; Senator Doug Jones; Karen Jones; Attorney Everett Wess; Robert Avery; Attorney Faya Rose Toure; Attorney Sharon Wheeler; Senator Hank Sanders

Doug Jones, Alabama’s newly elected Senator, met with a delegation of Alabama New South Coalition members on Saturday, January 6, 2018, in Birmingham. All of ANSC delegation members played an active role in the ‘Vote or Die Campaign’ to register, educate, mobilize and turnout voters in the December 12, 2017 Special Election, in which Jones defeated Judge Roy Moore.

Jones was coming off his first week in Washington D. C. where he was sworn-in to his new position. Jones was accompanied to the swearing-in ceremony by former Vice President, Joe Biden. Jones was sworn-in along side Tina Smith, a new Senator from Minnesota, who will fill the un-expired term of Senator Al Franken who resigned. Smith was accompanied to the swearing-in by former Vice President Walter Mondale, from Minnesota.

Jones thanked the ANSC and the Vote or Die Campaign for their support and help in winning a closely fought contest with Judge Roy Moore. He said he appreciated “the early and continuing efforts of ANSC, ANSA and Vote or Die from the beginning of the race, starting at the first primary and continuing all the way through.”

Members of the ANSC delegation expressed congratulations and support to Senator Jones and indicated that they realized that “ a movement orientation was needed not just an ordinary political campaign, to create the excitement and interest, to generate the kind of turnout that was required to win this election.”

Jones said that he would work to represent all of the people of Alabama and he was looking for priority issues to work on that would unite voters – Black and white, urban and rural – in the state.

Jones said he was definitely going to push for reauthorization of CHIP – Children’s Health Insurance Program, which serves 150,000 children in Alabama and 9 million nationwide.

Another priority was working to keep rural hospitals open, which would help places in north Alabama, as well as the Alabama Black Belt, from losing their hospital and having to travel long distances for medical services. Jones said he would work with Congresswomen Terri Sewell, who has proposed adjustments to raise the low reimbursement rates paid to rural hospitals under Medicare and Medicaid.

Jones said building, repairing and improving infrastructure, including more than roads and bridges, and extending to water and waste water systems, broadband communication services and other community facilities. He said that he was trying to get assigned on Senate committees that dealt with these issues.

Jones indicated that he does not support cuts to “entitlement programs” like Medicare, Medicaid and Food Stamps which help low income people to balance the budget.

On Monday, it was announced by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that Senator Jones would serve on the: Housing, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Banking, Homeland Security and Government Affairs (HSGAC) and Aging Committees . Senator Jones assured the ANSC delegation that he would have an active and robust staff around the state to provide information and constituent services to people in Alabama. He was still staffing his offices and was still receiving resumes from persons interested in serving on his staff in the state and in Washington. As reported last week, he has chosen Dana Gresham, an African-American, to serve as Chief of Staff. Jones indicated that he might develop a mobile office to travel to rural and more remote communities to provide services to constituents that cannot easily travel to offices in larger cities.

Senator Jones said that he would continue to communicate on a regular basis with the delegation about the upcoming state elections in 2018 and his own re-election campaign in 2020. Jones said that he would participate in the upcoming Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, the first weekend in March, and other activities related to supporting voting rights.[8]

References