Sunday, July 16, 2006
VOTING RIGHTS Voting Rights Act still needed here:
As president of the Metro-Birmingham Branch of the NAACP, I am writing to convey the disappointment of many in the
community to recent statements by officials in Alabama and other Southern states with respect to reauthorization of the
Voting Rights Act. It seems the landmark act is seen as an unfair inconvenience because it requires these states to make
adjustments that actually expand access to the ballot.
To suggest the Voting Rights Act is no longer applicable or necessary for Southern states is truly unfortunate and a
disservice to those who have continued to experience deterrence to the ballot. Examples include Florida in 2000, the 2004
Texas redistricting plan, the recent New Orleans mayoral elections and newly enacted voting laws in Georgia.
As recently as May 3, Alabama was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for noncompliance in missing the Jan. 1 deadline
for the Help America Vote Act ("U.S. sues state over voter database," The News, May 3). This lawsuit demonstrates that
voting procedures in Alabama are still not in line with requirements which have been established.
So how is it that individuals feel confident in championing Alabama and other Southern states as no longer needing oversight
by a neutral entity? Whatever the reason, through these states' actions or inaction, they have shown there is still a place for
federal laws to protect the voting rights of all citizens.
Now is the time for all citizens of goodwill and organizations that represent communities of color to call on our elected and
appointed officials to resist the current attempts to roll back 40-plus years of progress and vote to renew the Voting Rights
Act with no amendments.
Hezekiah Jackson IV
SLAVERY REPARATIONS Idea not worthy of consideration:
It was with more than a little disgust that I read the recent article in The News concerning the growing momentum for the
idea of paying to blacks reparation for slavery. I find it almost incredible that a sane person could find this proposal worthy
As much as slavery was a tremendous affront to human dignity, and countless atrocities were committed against blacks, it
makes no sense to give money to blacks now for past injustices from more than 150 years ago. Regardless of the fact that
reparations would never survive a legal challenge, there are numerous reasons why reparations would be at best unjust and
at worst racist.
There is no reason why all whites or all non-African Americans should be made to pay into a reparation fund. Most
Americans have no connection whatsoever either directly or indirectly to slavery. America is a nation of diverse cultures, and
relatives of Mexican, European, Asian, Greek or Latin immigrants, to name only a few, should not be made to pony up to pay
any black American for past sins.
Only a tiny fraction of Americans ever owned slaves, so why should a nonslave owner relative pay up? To whom should these
payments go? Not all blacks today are relatives of slaves. What provable hardships are present-day blacks suffering
because of a practice that ended more than 150 years ago?
No one argues that discrimination against blacks has continued since those times, but billions of dollars already have been
earmarked for and given to blacks in the form of equal rights, welfare and racial preferences, such as in contract bidding
and educational admissions.
There is the assumption that only blacks suffered from the slave trade and only whites profited. Today's American
descendants of slaves on average earn 20 to 50 times what blacks in Africa earn today. Black Africans were also profiteers
in the slave trade by selling slaves to the white traders.
What about the hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War to help free the slaves? Why should their
relatives now be forced to ante up?
RENAMING PARK Name a new park for Miglionico:
I never cease to be amazed at the total disregard for history that seems to permeate throughout society today. Just when I
think I've heard it all, here comes some long-forgotten politician to offer one more surprise, perhaps in an attempt to get his
name back in the news.
Caldwell Park should remain Caldwell Park. Dr. Henry Caldwell played an important role in the establishment of Birmingham.
Infantile attempts to demonize 19th-century historical figures using a 21st-century worldview will change nothing. The fact
will always remain that Caldwell was, and is, an important figure in Birmingham history. He should continue to be honored as
such and not cast into historical oblivion with the political hack who has so flagrantly attacked him and attempted to smear
Any politician who wanted to better the Birmingham community could easily propose building a new park and naming it after
Nina Miglionico. Changing the name of an established park is simply an ill-conceived political ploy with no substance other
than an attempt to revitalize a forgotten political career.
Caldwell cared for sick, wounded:
Former Birmingham City Councilman John Katopodis would have us believe that Dr. Henry Caldwell led Pickett's charge
during the Civil War. In reality, Caldwell cared for the sick and wounded in hospitals at Greenville and Spring Hill.
Katopodis says the name of the park has "a lot of pain associated with it," and he doesn't think the community will stand for
it any longer.
I visited Caldwell Park a few weeks ago, and hundreds of people there appeared to be enjoying themselves. I failed to
encounter a single person in grief or suffering due to the name of the park.
The former councilman seems to believe voters are losing sleep over this issue. If this is the best idea Katopodis has had in
some time, perhaps that's why he's a former councilman.
What about Scrushy Parkway?:
I have lived in Birmingham all my life (63 years), and I never knew Caldwell Park was named after a slave owner. To rename
Caldwell Park would be wrong.
A lot of great Americans were slave owners. This does not make slave owners right, but it was a part of American history.
Former City Councilman John Katopodis needs to clean up the skeletons in his own closet before going after a great man of
By the way, isn't it time for Fairfield to rename Richard Scrushy Parkway back to its original name of Lloyd Noland
Parkway? Noland was another true Birmingham area hero, and surely not one convicted of crimes.
U.W. CLEMON Removal of judge amounts to racism:
On July 8, I sadly read the article in The News about U.S. District Court Judge U.W. Clemon being removed from a case by
the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However, this same court upheld his rulings in the case that made the basis of his
removal. The court of appeals asserted it found no infractions on the part of Clemon, but he was removed merely for
I'll tell you what the appearance and the reality are - racism. This is an unprecedented and blatant racial act by an appellate
court that is supposed to scrutinize lower court rulings for fairness and the right application of law.
In my 10 years of practicing law, I have never heard "appearance" as being an appellate court's rationale for removing a
federal judge. Furthermore, I have never heard of a federal judge being removed from a case at the insistence of the U.S.
attorney's office. But then, in Alabama, anything is possible, I guess.
What the Court of Appeals has done speaks volumes of how African-Americans really have no secure place and/or voice in
our American justice system, and it shows that blacks will be subjected to racial discrimination at each and every level of
the judicial process, even to the point of removing from this case one of Alabama's most respected jurists.
What this appellate court has done is tantamount to judicial terrorism. This is a dark time for the American judicial system.
Peter J. Davis
SCHOOL BOARDS Eliminating boards no fix for schools:
Linda Houghton Riddle's essay in last Sunday's Commentary section contains unsettling recommendations to "fix" relational
problems with some school boards and their superintendents. While her assertions of board members' "misconduct"
unfortunately have merit in some school systems, the solutions she offers are unrealistic and flawed.
She mentions only seven of the 93 Alabama school systems with appointed superintendents. There are dozens of successful
board/superintendent relationships aiming toward the same goals. Mountain Brook's Charles Mason, Homewood's Jody
Newton and nearby Calhoun County's Jacky Sparks serve as a few examples of appointed superintendents who have had
effective working relationships with their boards for eight to 10 years.
Dissolving local school boards will not result in the goals of improving student achievement, offering rigorous, innovative
programs and ensuring that no child is "left behind" in basic academic skills. Our Founding Fathers intentionally established
representative governance at all levels. To suggest that because school boards sometimes differ with superintendents and
that's a reason local school board authority be diminished fly in the face of the principles of local autonomy.
There are instances in which a superintendent's ineffective leadership compels board members to do what is best for the
children. The notion that the state superintendent, federal government programs and a regional education accreditation
association could somehow run our schools better than the majority of our local school board/superintendent teams is
presumptuous without knowing all the facts in board/superintendent controversies.
David Nichols, Ed.D.
Board of Education
STEM-CELL RESEARCH Senate should support bill:
I suffer every day with Type 1 diabetes, which requires six or more finger-stick blood tests a day and the use of an insulin
infusion pump 24 hours a day, every day.
I am frustrated that the promise of embryonic stem cell research is being held up by Washington politics - in direct
opposition to the wishes of the majority of Americans, as polls have shown.
By early next week, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on HR 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. If our elected
leaders want to keep my trust, the Senate should pass this important bill and the president should follow suit and sign it into
I've been living 28 years with juvenile diabetes and working for a cure.
Donna S. Cates
ROADSIDE HELP ASAP one of best service in state:
Concerning the recent letter critical of the Alabama Service and Assistance Patrol program, I would like to say this is one of
the best things that has happened to Alabama.
When you drive through Chicago and other cities, those cities have this service available at a heartbeat. Everyone doesn't
have a cell phone. When I am driving and see someone broken down, I call ASAP, and it has done a remarkable job in
What about people who don't have the funds to call for roadside assistance? Also, in the desolate areas of the highway,
there is nowhere anyone can stop or walk back - unless you want to walk a couple of miles.
I personally think ASAP should be expanded on weekends and that part of the money from traffic tickets should be applied
to this project.
ASAP has been a blessing for people traveling from out of state and not knowing where they are or what lies ahead. If the
letter writer wants to call a roadside assistance company rather than ASAP, I suggest he call that company and leave ASAP
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Le Mensonge peut courir un an, la vérité le rattrape en un jour, dit le sage Haoussa
se SURPASSER ,ne JAMAIS ABDIQUER,TOUJOURS RESTER HUMBLE