Uniontown| Alabama

Movement Briefing for August 20th Assembly

Who attended the Assembly and what are they concerned about?

The August 20 Uniontown Assembly, BB4J, at Quinn Chapel was created by Black Belt Citizens featuring a political forum, introduction to assembly process, and detailed introductions of the +/- 30 people and special guests which included 3 members of Project South, 3 members of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), and a founding member of the Extreme Energy Extraction Collaborative. The program built discussion around important city issues and visions for a better Uniontown. The political forum was moderated by Pastor Howze of Quinn Chapel AME and included 2 Mayoral candidates and 2 Council candidates.  Please see video here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHcmh3S3tPs

What is the shared analysis of the problems?

The attendees spoke of great concern for the state of Uniontown and the neglect from the current elected officials. The community program brought together over 20 frustrated and concerned Uniontown residents to build collective visions for their city. The program was created to unite people in addressing issues to candidates for the City election cycle dated August 23. The citizen’s message was united and clear, it’s time for a change in office to improve our economy, environment, public health & education, and overall quality of life. On August 23rd, Uniontown went to the polls and voted in 2 new Councilors and pushed the Mayor election into a runoff scheduled for October 4th.

Movement Briefing for September 19th Uniontown Assembly & Political Forum II

Who attended the Assembly and what are they concerned about?

Immediately after the August 23rd election, the BBC met and planned a follow-up forum on September 19th specifically on the night of the next City Council meeting.  The Mayoral runoff was scheduled for October 4th. The BBC and allies organized, mobilized, and shared newsletters and videos about both events and elections hoping to spur public interest to vote and to organize around other campaigns. The September 19th forum was attended by 45+ Uniontown residents who demanded transparent justice from the 1 candidate (not the incumbent) who attended. The forum was once again moderated by Pastor Howze.

What is the shared analysis of the problems?

Both candidates for Mayor were invited.  The incumbent was present at the City Council meeting but chose to avoid his constituents at the forum in the same building as the Council meeting. The continued questions and demands by residents made it very clear that whomever wins October 4th must respect the needs of their citizens.  BBC to meet and hold another assembly immediately following the election.

IDENTIFIED ISSUES by residents (economics, education, environment, government/political, public health, social, transportation, and more)

Economics:

  • large factory farms, out of town land owners
  • industry intimidation, polluting industries
  • limited tax base, regressive tax structure
  • city and council debt
  • corrupt, exploitative
  • $4.8 Million USDA project, financial audit
  • large unemployment & high poverty
  • slave-like jobs, low wages, little job opportunity
  • rough working conditions, unsafe labor
  • no unions, no labor organizing
  • stores overcharge, lack of services
  • high energy and water bills
  • no development of small business
  • black land loss
  • lack of black investment opps
  • no job training, no investment in workers

Education

  • school located near sewage lagoon and cheese plant area
  • parts of elementary school closing
  • part of jr high going to class at high school
  • lack of supplies, technology, equipment at schools
  • mayor teaches and coaches at school
  • lack of pre-k, daycare
  • lack of adult education opportunities, career training
  • lack of community education, popular education
  • huge illiteracy rate
  • lack of technology/internet
  • lack of communications
  • lack of media, narrative not being told
  • lack of job training

Environment

  • polluting industries
  • factory farms and big Ag
  • polluted air, odors
  • contaminated waters & soils
  • sewage overflows, wastewater problems
  • landfill, coal ash
  • toxic waste
  • cemetery trespass
  • protecting sacred space
  • black land loss
  • property values
  • community violence
  • family gardens, ag and farming
  • food and subsistence
  • environmental history
  • environmental racism

Political

  • propaganda by leaders at meetings, on radio, etc
  • political intimidation
  • voter fraud, election, voting
  • violation of open meetings
  • lack of land-use planning, regressive tax structure
  • corruption, mismanagement
  • mayor has too many jobs
  • lack of candidates
  • current mayor and council not accountable, transparent
  • no current integrity, honesty
  • investigate city budget, wastewater projects, others
  • police oversight, police brutality, police accountability, police training

Public health

  • suicide prevention/care
  • trauma counseling needs
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • no nearby medical clinics
  • toxins, contaminants, exposure
  • concerns of water quality, drinking water, odors, smells
  • food desert, poverty
  • lack of youth programs
  • lack of elderly care
  • lack of services
  • long distance for emergency
  • BBC need to address to county, regional, state
  • BBC need to address medical reform

Social

  • silencing of issue/voices
  • youth flight
  • land loss, pollution
  • problems with violence
  • domestic violence, hunger, poverty
  • lack of drug and harm prevention
  • lack of services for formerly convicted people
  • lack of unity among community
  • political crisis, debt,
  • lack of other Faith leaders in Uniontown
  • slave-like mentality
  • learned hopelessness
  • history of trauma and oppression
  • violations of rights
  • loss of dignity
  • community needs space to heal

Transportation

  • no public trans
  • hwt 80 is busy with big trucks
  • long distances for services
  • roads in bad shape
  • railroad through town
  • Uniontown center of traffic routes in area
  • BBC need transportation