by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.
Do not turn your eyes from the horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary
School massacre in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children, their teachers and aides, their school principal shot repeatedly, in some cases beyond recognition, by a 20-year-old wielding a semiautomatic assault weapon.
As he has shown in his moving words after the horror, President Barack Obama clearly is grief-stricken, as we all should be, about the children murdered in their innocence.
“Can we honestly say we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?” Obama asked in his remarks in Newtown. “If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough, and we will have to change.”
The president pledged that “in the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”
As the president said, we’ve seen too many of these tragedies.
And daily in major cities like Chicago, the trauma builds. This year as of Dececember 10, Chicago has witnessed 485 killed in gun violence, 125 under the age of 18.
Legislators are afraid to act because the gun lobby is well-funded, and this country is saturated in guns. As of 2009, there were an estimated310 million non-military firearms owned in America. There are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers, 51,438 of which are retail gun stores.
That compares with 10,787 Starbucks stores, and 143,839 gas stations across the country. And that doesn’t count gun shows.
About 40 percent of guns are sold in unlicensed private sales.
So if action is to take place, Americans in large numbers must make their voices heard.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the original authors of the 1994 assault weapons ban, has vowed to introduce, on the first day of Congress, a new ban on the sale of assault weapons. President Obama could lead the drive for that.
He also could challenge Americans to rethink our infatuation with guns and violence. I would invite him to come home to Chicago to challenge the nation to understand the daily toll gun violence takes.
New York Mayor Michael Bloom-berg has called on the president to increase resources and priority given to enforcing the gun control laws already on the books.
According to Bloomberg, 77,000 people were accused of lying when issued gun permits, but only 77 have beennprosecuted.
The New York Times reports that after the Gabby Giffords shooting, the Department of Justice reviewed what could be done to strengthen gun control enforcement.
One measure was to compel federal agencies to merge information about the mentally incompetent into the background check database.
Obama could challenge states and cities across the country to act. The gun lobby has persuaded many state legislatures to strip municipalities of their power to regulate guns. The president could enlist public officials from major cities and suburban jurisdictions to push hard on states to give back that power to act — and enlist citizens to march on state legislatures to get them to act.
Instead of expanding concealed weapons laws, cities and suburban districts could unite to put strict limits on handguns and assault weapons.
Will the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary and the slaughter on our urban streets force action? Strict laws won’t end gun violence, not with 310 million guns spread through the country.
But we can do more to protect our children, and we must.
Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.
Cecil Williamson, president of Selma, Alabama City Council, is behind the building of the monument, and has a long history of involvement with secessionist and White supremacy groups including the John Birch Society and the League of the South.
— 60,000+ people have already signed the online petition at www.change.org/selma —
Selma, AL (BlackNews.com) — Hank Sanders, Alabama State Senator representing Selma and Dallas County and eight other West Alabama counties, is challenging the building of a Monument to General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Sanders comments, “Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the richest slave dealers in the South. Under General Nathan Bedford Forrest leadership, black soldiers who had surrendered were murdered in cold blood at Fort Pillow, Tennessee during the Civil War.”
After the Civil War, General Forrest took leadership of the Klan becoming its first Grand Wizard and built it into a national force that terrorized Black people across this country for decades. There is already a monument to Forrest at Live Oak Cemetery. We do not need a bigger monument of Forrest in Selma, the symbol for voting rights and freedom all over the world.”
“We have worked to eliminate memorials and anything else that honors Nathan Bedford Forrest including changing the name of an almost entirely black housing project just outside of town named for decades NBF Homes that stood for Nathan Bedford Forrest. We successfully renamed the housing project to MBA Homes in honor of Minnie B. Anderson,” Sanders said. He continued, “In the year 2000, we successful fought to remove a Forrest monument from a public building, the Smitherman Building. It was at that time, that the monument was relocated to the Live Oak Cemetery. We were not pleased then and continue to be displeased now that a memorial that honors a slave trader and a murderer of Black people is present in our town.”
Sanders also protested a document on the monument which called his wife, Faya Rose Toure; a “Domestic Terrorist. “No public property should be used to defame anyone, said Sanders. “A terrorist is a criminal. It is a sad day when a person who protest a terrorist like Nathan Bedford Forrest is called a “domestic terrorist” and it’s posted on public property.”
Sanders also spoke out against the physical assault on his wife, Faya Rose Toure. “The supervisor of the construction project grabbed and pushed my wife. He then put his finger in her face. I will not stand for anyone assaulting any one. I certainly will not stand for anyone assaulting my wife or any member of my family. This supervisor of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument must face justice.”
The Friends of Forrest, a Confederate organization and co-founded by Cecil Williamson and Patricia Godwin are behind the building of the monument. “They [Friends of Forrest] have been raising money for years for a permanent monument to Forrest by selling a packet of information that was originally published by the KKK right after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. They call the packet, Truth Uncensored and it attacks the Voting Rights Movement.” Among several articles in the packet are booklets called, Sex and the Civil Rights Movement – The True Selma Story, that falsely claims the Selma to Montgomery march was a drunken orgy; and Nightriders , The Truth Surrounding Viola Liuzzo’s Killing falsely charges Mrs. Liuzzo with being a prostitute. You can see a description of all the racist materials in the packet at www.firstfreedom.net/68.htm
Cecil Williamson is the president of the Selma City Council and has a long history of involvement with secessionist and White supremacy groups including the John Birch Society and the League of the South. “We exposed his attendance at a Nathan Bedford Forrest birthday celebration in July 2010. Along with the Confederate flag, a racist caricature of a Black child eating watermelon was the display for their water melon station.” In spite of the fact that the Selma City Council was presented this evidence and other detailed evidence of Williamson’s racism,” Sanders said, “they failed to vote him out of the office of president of Council.”
Sanders said he has had enough. “I wrote a column on Nathan Bedford Forrest eleven years ago. We are still struggling with this issue today. This matter has gone way too far. We must take a stand. That’s why I am speaking out now. That’s why others must speak out.”
Please express your outrage and opposition to the building of this monument by emailing the Mayor George Evans at [email protected], Thomas C. Atchison at [email protected], Angela Benjamin at [email protected], Greg J. Bjelke at [email protected], Corey D. Bowie at [email protected], Susan Keith at [email protected], Samuel L. Randolph at [email protected], and Cecil Williamson at [email protected]” Sanders appealed. He noted that emails to Bennie Ruth Crenshaw and Bennie L. Tucker should be sent to the Council Secretary at [email protected]