Senate Sketches # 1362 by Senator Hank Sanders


Senate Sketches # 1386


Senator Hank Sanders


            All I want for this New Year is fewer murders, less violence.  I know that this is a “big want,” but that’s all I want.  Some of us want many things that add up to a “real big want.”  I don’t want lots of money.  I don’t want lots of status.  I don’t want lots of power.  I don’t want lots of positions.  All I want is fewer murders, less violence for this New Year.

            All I want for this New Year is fewer murders, less violence in Selma/Dallas County, AL where I live.  I want fewer murders, less violence for Senate District 23, which I represent in the Alabama Senate.  I want fewer murders, less violence for the Alabama Black Belt, which I have struggled to lift for 40-plus years.  I want fewer murders, less violence for the State of Alabama, which I serve.  I want fewer murders, less violence for the United States of America, my country.  I want fewer murders, less violence for the entire world in which we all live.  Well, I guess that is a “real big want” after all.

            If you consider this to be so big it seems ridiculous, consider what many of us ask for Christmas – “Peace on Earth, good will toward men” (and women) (and children).  I would love peace on Earth and good will among all humans, but all I’m asking for this year is fewer murders, less violence in the city, county, state, nation and world in which we live.

            I would be willing to accept this New Year by dropping the world from my want list.  You see, the United States is the most violent country in the world.  If we cut the rate of murders and violence in the U.S. to the average rate in the rest of the world that is not in civil war, we will reduce the world rate of violence by 25 percent.  Maybe wanting this for the USA for this New Year is still too big a want.

            Why don’t I limit this New Year want just to Selma/Dallas County?  Selma is a city of just 20,000 in population.  Yet, we have had 11 murders this year.  This does not speak to all the many other acts of violence (rapes, assaults, attempted murders, etc.) to our children, our women and our men that did not lead to the ultimate act of violence-murder.

            In Selma, there have been fourteen killings so far in 2013.  That may not seem like a lot to those who know that Montgomery has 48 so far in 2013.  However, Selma has a population of 20,000 while Montgomery’s population is about 205,000.  Therefore, the rate of murders for Selma is more than twice the rate of Montgomery.

            It is too impersonal to talk about the terrible act of murder just by numbers.  Therefore, I want to put forth each act of murder in Selma in the victims’ name with some limited circumstances.  I know some will argue that some of these are not murders but something less.  However, this is my want list, and all I want for the New Year is not to have any similar deaths in 2014.

  1. Alexis Hunter was just 16 years old.  She and I went to the same church for some years.  Several boys tried to take her cell phone, and she refused to give it up.  They shot and killed her on December 21.

    2-4. Three people were killed in one incident.  Dwight Moorer, a policeman, killed    Keosha Hill and her stepfather, Billy Jackson, and then killed himself on June 2, 2013.

    5.         Deander Palmer was killed on March 3, 2013.

    6-7.      Kervina Woods and Donyea Williams were killed on November 17, 2013.

    8.         Micah Johnson, a young man in his twenties, was killed by another young man in his twenties because Johnson threatened to expose him.

    9.         James Steward was killed on September 8, 2013

    10.       Antonio Boykin was killed on June 1, 2013.

    11.       Corley Lewis was killed on September 22, 2013

    12-13.  Justin Fuller was killed while allegedly robbing an elderly man.  The elderly man, Willie “Dusty” Berry, was shot and subsequently died.

    14.       Ananias Shaw was killed by several policemen.

    No matter how the killings happened, all I want for the New Year is less killings and less violence.

    At the bottom of all this killing is a gross failure to value Black life.  Black life is not truly valued by any segment of our society, including the Black segment.  This is the long arm of oppression.  In short, it’s just another Black boy/girl/man/woman dead.  Of course, we don’t say this but our actions speak louder than our words.  We must find a way to impact values so we can have fewer murders, less violence in this New Year.

    Now on to the Daily Diary.

    Saturday, December 21, 2013 – I was still in the SOS Leadership Summit in Selma where I participated in several sessions.  I also participated in the 21C (Twenty First Century Youth Leadership Movement) event called Random Acts of Kindness and worked into the night.  I communicated with many leaders including the following: Scott Douglass of Birmingham; Dr. Roberta Watts and Roger Watts of Gadsden; Gus Towns of Montgomery; Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) State Coordinator Shelley Fearson; Hugh Morris of Talladega; Bernard Simelton of the NAACP; Alecha Irby of Miles College; Catrena Norris Carter of Birmingham; Sharon Wheeler of the Alabama Education Association (AEA) and Kathy Viet of Atlanta.

    Sunday – I walked, did Radio Sunday School with Jerria Martin, handled many matters, went to the funeral of Bill Scott and worked into the night.  I communicated with the following:  Khadijah Ishaq of Selma, special friend of Bill Scott; Veronica Williams of Selma; Lena Watford of Tuscaloosa; and Dr. Carol P. Zippert of the Greene County Democrat.

    Monday – I walked, handled many matters, participated in multiple conference calls and had lunch with Ollion Wright.  Among those I communicated with were the following:  Phil Fraas of Washington, D. C.; Talladega Mayor Larry Barton; Joe Fine of Montgomery; and Ola Morrow of Maplesville.

    Tuesday – This was Christmas Eve but I still walked, handled many matters and worked deep into the night.  Among those I communicated with were the following:  Dr. David Hodo of Selma; Selma Mayor George Evans; Miree Westbrook of Huntsville; Carolyn Wheeler of Tennessee, who went to the hospital but was released; Selma City Councilman Michael Johnson; Gloria Pompey of Selma; Senator Vivian Davis Figures; Annie Pearl Avery of the Slavery and Civil War Museum; and Dan Tompkins of Selma.

    Wednesday – This was Christmas morning but I still walked and worked for a couple of hours before driving to Birmingham where I helped cook breakfast.  I had various discussions, traveled to Talladega and back to Birmingham, participated in a dinner, went to the movie, Mandela and had discussions about the movie.  Among others, I communicated with the following:  Dixie Bonner and Walter Bonner of Talladega; David Gaines and Walter Gaines of Birmingham; Carolyn Gaines-Varner and Zakiya Varner of Selma; Kimani Varner of North Carolina; Joe Jackson, Ainka Jackson and Amadi Sanders of Nashville; Eboni Gaines of Montgomery; and Malika Fortier, Franklin Fortier and Askhari Little of Selma.

    Thursday – I was still in Birmingham where I cooked breakfast for everyone before driving to Chattanooga, TN.  I spent hours working by phone and watched the movie Winnie (Winnie Mandela) and participated in a group discussion.  Among those I communicated with were the following:  Leonard Dunston of North Carolina whose wife, Gladys, is under treatment for a serious illness; Tearra Wright of Selma; Kindaka Sanders of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, TX; and Michelle Alexandre of University of Mississippi School of Law.

    Friday – I was still in Chattanooga where I again cooked breakfast for everyone.  I began writing Sketches, visited the home of Carolyn Wheeler of Signal Mountain, TN, participated in several conference calls and read.  I communicated with various persons, including Greg Francis of Orlando, FL; Faya Rose Toure’ of Selma; Greene County School Board member Lester Brown; and Ralph Paige of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (the Federation).

    EPILOGUE – Because Black life is greatly devalued, it is easy to take that life.  We must value all human life in how we act, speak and think.  We must convey those values to all we come into contact with, especially our young.