Hank Sanders

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Henry "Hank" Sanders (born October 28, 1942) is a Democratic member of the Alabama Senate, representing the 23rd District since 1983. He is the longest-serving chair of a legislative budget committee in Alabama, having first been named to Chair of the Senate Finance & Taxation Committee in January 1996 and serving in it for four consecutive terms.

He is married to Faya Ora Rose Toure.

Alabama New South Coalition

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.[1]

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.[2]

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 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.”

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.[3]

References

  1. Yellowhammmer, Cliff Sims 4 years ago Alabama progressives warn blacks to vote or face silencing, targeting and ‘Klan’ events
  2. [https://greenecodemocrat.com/tag/alabama-new-south-coalition/Greene County Democrat ‘Ride to Restore Section 5’ grassroots lobbyists push Voting Rights Advancement Act in Washington, D. C. Posted on June 28, 2017 by greenecodemocratcom Special to the Democrat by: John Zippert,]
  3. Greene County Democrat, Doug Jones meets with ANSC delegation to discuss plans and prioritiesPosted on January 10, 2018