The whole nation is watching the battle between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones as they fight to become the next U.S. Senator from Alabama on election day December 12.
Moore is the conservative ex-state judge who has been accused of sexual misbehavior with adult and teenaged women in the 70s and later during his time as a prosecutor in Alabama.
Moore’s antics were so bad he was banned from a Alabama Mall.
Calls for him to drop out of the race have fallen on deaf ears, and recently, President Trump voiced his support for Moore. However, Republicans in the U.S. Congress, have been avoiding showing such support.
Recent polling has emphasized the significance of the Alabama Black vote and Jones has been courting them strongly. The latest poll from the Washington Post showed Jones with a narrow 3-point lead over Moore and an electorate that was more than one-quarter African-American. A recent automated poll from Emerson College, showed African-Americans as just 17 percent of the sample – and had Moore up by 6 points.
A Democrat has not been elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama for 20 years, since Richard Shelby was elected as a Democrat but changed to the GOP as the state turned more Republican.
Jones is leaning on his own civil rights record as a federal prosecutor and emphasizing education to maximize support from Black voters. In 2001and 2002, he prosecuted the KKK members charged with planning the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1965.
Though Jones has raised over $10 million dollars, many supporters say they have not seen much of a ground game, and door to door operations to even alert voters that an election is forthcoming.
As Black residents down in Alabama are gearing up to do their part to stop Moore, expatriates living here in Virginia and other states, are watching the drama back home.
Georgette Norman is a retired educator who once ran Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, where she now lives. She says that despite Jones campaign’s effort to rally Blacks to support his candidacy, she fears there is lack of enthusiasm in the community.
She lived through the height of the civil rights struggles in the 60s and saw the benefits of the fight decades later. So she say she knows what men like Moore stand for and why Black and White Democrats must stand up to assure he does not win.
The share of Democratic voters in Alabama and other parts of the South has dwindled to a point where there are no White Democrats in the U.S. Congress, from southern states south of Virginia.
“So Black people have been so used to Democrats losing or not even challenging a contest, Jones will have to do a lot of work to get them to the polls,” said Norman. “I am hoping we do come out. Alabama is the home of civil rights. We helped move the country forward; we have another chance to do.”
Norman mentioned the Selma to Montgomery march to challenge barriers to voting rights, citing the images of Blacks being beaten by state police at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge which revealed to the world the abuses of the Jim Crow South.
She cited Alabama as the birthplace of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery street bus, was arrested and spurred an 18-month bus boycott which ended Jim Crow rules on the city’s public transportation.
Sharon Waters works as a Vice President of Development and Outreach for the Stop, Inc. who lives in Portsmouth. She was born in Montgomery but has spent a good portion her life outside the state.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and others were leading the fight in Birmingham and Montgomery and her parents were close friends of the religious and civic leaders in the Black community who were on the battlefield.
Waters said Blacks could make a difference in the December 12 election but during a recent holiday trip home, she sensed apathy, especially among young African-Americans who did not know the history of Alabama’s racial past.
Waters said if a conservative like Moore is elected, he will help the Trump administration to continue weakening the community action agencies like the one she where she works.
She said Trump has appointed people to head the Department of Health and Human Services which funds many of the programs designed to help disadvantaged people of all races.
“I have never been registered to vote in Alabama. I lived in Virginia or California,” Waters said. “If only the young people would turn out. But they do not understand what Black people went through in the past to secure the freedoms they enjoy now.
“If they did they would be more eager to vote. My generation was taught the importance of voting. Now I take my daughter to the polls every election day. I just hope the people back home get that message.”
By Leonard E. Colvin