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Of course, Selma made the difference for Doug Jones

On Tuesday night, civil rights leader Bernice King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., took to Twitter ...

Posted: Dec 14, 2017 10:33 AM
Updated: Dec 14, 2017 10:33 AM

On Tuesday night, civil rights leader Bernice King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., took to Twitter with what amounted to the digital version of a prayerlike sigh of relief. Democrat Doug Jones had just pulled off an unlikely victory in the election to fill the Alabama Senate seat left vacant by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. King wrote:

"Selma, Lord, Selma. It's no coincidence that Selma, where blood was shed in the struggle for voting rights for Black people, pushed #DougJones ahead for good. #Alabama"

Hers is more than a sentimental observation. At a time when the Democratic Party has drastically scaled back operations nationwide in conservative bastions like Alabama, it fell to civil rights leaders -- including activists and ministers, attorneys and businessmen -- to organize and energize black voters to vote for Doug Jones.

The numbers show they got the job done well. As the vote totals rolled in, Selma -- the site of storied civil rights and county seat -- supplied the coup de grace, delivering nearly 75% of Dallas County's votes to Jones.

This is the place where, in March 1965, peaceful marchers were teargassed and beaten mercilessly by state troopers while the news cameras rolled. The demonstrators were attempting a symbolic 54-mile march to the state capital to demand full voting rights for blacks. National outraged followed the televised brutality, and later that month, the marchers -- backed by a federal court order -- arrived at the capital 25,000 strong.

The demonstration was seen as a turning point in a national debate that led to passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in August 1965.

The mobilization of black voters across Alabama in the run-up to this week's election shows Democrats that it's time to invest more in -- and follow the lead of -- civil rights leaders.

In Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Tuskegee, the state's NAACP chapters hosted get-out-the-vote drives that included rallies, social media outreach and radio ads. "We're trying to work all angles," Patricia Mokola, a spokeswoman for the Alabama NAACP, told USA Today before the election. "We're trying to reach not only African-Americans, we're trying to reach millennials as well. They will be instrumental in this election."

The strategy worked. Exit polls show that 96% of black voters supported Jones, as did more than 61% of voters under 45 years old.

You could see the movement's force in Greene County, near the state's western edge. The area was a hotbed of civil rights activism in the 1960s, when Dr. King and his top lieutenants paid multiple visits.

The torch later passed to local leaders like John and Carol Zippert, who have spent decades running programs for an organization, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, that helps black farmers get access to credit and land. The Zipperts also publish a newspaper, the Greene County Democrat, that urged voters to the polls.

The county seat, Eutaw, features a casino, Greenetrack, whose CEO is Luther Winn, a politically active businessman who supports the local NAACP and the National Action Network, the organization run by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Winn, the Zipperts and NAACP activists, Jones carried Greene with an overwhelming 87% of the vote, a larger margin than Moore won in any county.

The victory in Alabama proves there is no substitute for prayer, preparation and believing it's possible to prevail against seemingly impossible odds. Leaders in the national party would do well to heed the lessons local Alabama leaders taught them Tuesday night.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 25664

Reported Deaths: 408
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby5669127
Davidson563869
Rutherford139829
Trousdale13944
Hamilton99219
Sumner95146
Lake8350
Bledsoe6131
Williamson59511
Robertson5425
Putnam5256
Tipton4673
Wilson4598
Knox4455
Out of TN4264
Bedford3024
Montgomery2873
Rhea2170
Hardeman2040
Bradley1742
Madison1732
Macon1713
Loudon1650
Unassigned1610
McMinn14614
Fayette1442
Cheatham1400
Dickson1210
Cumberland1202
Maury1081
Sevier1002
Blount933
Coffee810
Washington760
Monroe743
Wayne640
Gibson631
Sullivan602
Lauderdale601
Dyer590
Hickman590
Franklin541
Greene522
Unicoi490
Obion481
Hamblen442
Marion441
Anderson422
DeKalb390
Smith361
Lawrence350
Marshall341
White340
Hawkins342
Haywood342
Overton330
Grundy321
Cannon320
Henry320
Lincoln300
Jefferson290
Carroll281
Meigs270
Warren270
Weakley260
Perry240
Hardin222
Cocke210
Sequatchie200
Polk190
Carter191
Jackson190
Johnson190
Campbell181
Morgan180
Roane170
Humphreys161
Crockett163
Grainger150
Henderson150
McNairy150
Giles140
Stewart140
Scott130
Chester120
Fentress120
Claiborne120
Houston80
Clay80
Benton71
Decatur50
Moore50
Van Buren40
Union40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Hancock10

 

 

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