Alabama Values holds meeting on equality, voting

Published 8:46 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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The group Alabama Values held a recent virtual town hall meeting titled, “Democracy Under Attack: As Goes the South, So Goes the Nation.” Anisha Hardy, executive director of Alabama Values, told participants, “The overall goal of ‘Democracy Under Attack’ is to raise awareness around our freedoms and democracy.”

The two-hour-long, live discussion was held on Facebook Live on April 11.

Six panelists from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina presented topics of concern from their states. Hardy, who served as moderator, said future forums will be held. 

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“We hope this initiative will create entry points for citizens to get involved in the efforts to bring the change they want to see in their communities,” she said.

In her opening comments, Hardy stated, “It is important to recognize that democracy is not a passive endeavor, and it requires active participation and engagement from all of us.”

Among the many topics discussed was the nationally reported story of two black lawmakers who were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives after participating in a rally calling for gun control. 

Executive Director for Civic Tennessee, Matia Powell, said that was an example of an attack on democracy and freedom.

“Tennessee had one of its darkest days in our democracy last week, when we saw three legislators up for expulsion for just representing the people of their communities and of the state,” said Powell. “As jarring as that moment was, it really was just a culmination of a decade of laws that have made this state the most undemocratic state in the nation according to a recent study by Cambridge University.”

Digital Organizer for Alabama Voices, Zephyr Scalzetti, told viewers that voter suppression is a concern in the state. 

“We have the longest constitution in the world because nothing gets done on a local level…it just gets added to our constitution,” Scalzetti said. We have extreme districts that are either really, republican, or really, really democratic, so folks feel like their voices are not being heard.”

Scalzetti said being able to see the legislature at work is important for state residents. “This is the first year that you can see everything that happens on video in the Alabama legislature. If you go to you can watch them live online,” said Scalzetti.

Organizers of Alabama Values describe the group as a grassroots communications organization working to raise awareness and increase engagement around community issues in Alabama.