A number of Calhoun County Democrats helped set up and participated in a nonpartisan January 6 Vigil for Democracy. This event in Anniston was one of two in Alabama and part of a national effort with events in more than 350 places across the the country. The purposes were two-fold: To commemorate the attack on our democracy a year ago, and to call people to action for steps that will protect voting rights and future elections.
The January 6 Vigil for Democracy at the Anniston Meeting Center touched on many feelings. First, disbelief and horror all over again as we watched a video from a year ago of the savage attack on the Capitol. Next came sobering moments as local resident Nancy Smith Burleson talked about crossing the Pettus Bridge as an activist on 'Bloody Sunday' in 1965. Encouraging moments came as Pell City resident Francis Garrett stressed the importance of voting in every election - not just the presidential election - your vote is your voice. Dr. Mary Harrington described attending segregated schools until 10th grade, fulfilling a dream to become teacher, becoming the 1st minority teacher and 1st female superintendent in Cleburne County, AL, and said "When you don't vote, you make yourself count as nothing. No vote, no voice." Karen Steadman Barwick, Clair County activist, who had a career as a toxic tort specialist for insurance companies, saw - and shared - how corporations avoided responsibility for damage, and intensely follows voting-rights legislation.
Both ABC 33/40, Fox 6 and the Anniston Star covered the event. Click on the links below to see the coverage
Citizens of Anniston and Calhoun county were joined by people from St Clair County and Talladega County for this event. Leonette Slay was the Special guest speaker.
Carsie Evans and Frank Chaka manned the sign up/information table for people attending the event.
The Statue of Liberty is the Mother of Exiles, greeting millions of immigrants and embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. It stirs the desire for freedom in people all over the world. It represents the United States itself.
Jim Williams, organizer. 'Silence is assent.' Attacks on our democracy are ongoing. We must act to preserve it -- not a partisan issue but in all of our selfish interest.
Jim Williams and members of the group being interviewed by WBRC Bria Chatman
Nancy Burleson - Anniston native, civil rights marcher in 1960s, talked about crossing the Pettus Bridge as an activist on 'Bloody Sunday' in 1965.
Francis Garrett - activist, attended segregated schools until 10th grade, couldn't get a scholarship when she graduated from high school, worked on chicken farm until left AL in 1980, then developed a career in finance until 2005. Francis stressed the importance of voting in every election - not just the presidential election - your vote is your voice.
Dr. Mary Harrington, attended segregated schools until 10th grade, had the ambition to attend Alabama state to become teacher, doctorate in educational leadership from U of Alabama. Dr Harrington was the 1st minority teacher and 1st woman superintendent in Cleburne county. She had 20 years in the classroom, 19 years in administration. "Your vote determines your opportunities."
Leonette Slay - retired military officer, worked in Texas statehouse, leader in voting rights organizations in AL.
Karen Steadman Barwick, St. Clair County activist, who had a career as a toxic tort specialist for insurance companies, saw - and shared - how corporations avoided responsibility for damage, and intensely follows voting-rights legislation.
Handout from Karen Barwick: New Bills and Legislative Changes to Avoid Democratic Subversion
Jim Williams, 30 year Navy officer and military historian in civil service life, spoke about his experience in Bosnia and compared that to what is happening in our own country.
The nonpartisan group of about 65 people listened intently as other ordinary citizens and specialists in various areas spoke.
Many thanks to reporter Sherry Kughn for the in-depth article in the Anniston Star and to photo journalist Ashley Morrison for the photos. Also thanks to Talladega County activist Martha Jordan (pictured at right) for being involved and always looking for ways to better the lives of ALL Alabamians.
Following the event at the Anniston Meeting Center - about 20 people braved the cold and damp - and gathered on the steps of the Federal Building to light candles and sing 'We Shall Overcome.'