Thousands Say Their Final Goodbyes to a Hero (ABC 33/40)
Protesters at a Walmart in Hoover chanted “no justice no peace” one night last month as they approached the entrance. There have been several similar demonstrations in the wake of the fatal police shooting of a black man at the Galleria mall on Thanksgiving. At one of those demonstrations, police arrested protest leader Carlos Chaverst. They charged him with disorderly conduct and loitering for wearing a mask. It’s one of the more antiquated laws in Alabama. Over the last decade or so there have been numerous challenges to mask laws across, and many states have added the language “intent to intimidate.” But Alabama’s law includes no such language. Read more.
Birmingham is getting another entertainment district and Fairfield is getting three firefighting vehicles as a result of Tuesday’s Birmingham City Council meeting. The council also voted to approve new committee assignments — a necessary change after last year’s appointment of three new councilors. Read more.
Updated: A Jefferson County judge has voided a state law that protected historical monuments.
Ruling in a case over the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Birmingham’s Linn Park, then-Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Graffeo said that the law essentially forced a pro-Confederacy message on the city of Birmingham.
“Just as the state could not force any particular citizen to post a pro-Confederacy sign in his or her front lawn, so too can the state not commandeer the city’s property for the state’s preferred message.” Read more.
Following a tragic week for Birmingham, Mayor Randall Woodfin delivered his second State of the Community address Monday night. His speech was equal parts elegiac and hopeful, addressing the death of former Mayor Larry Langford and the murder of Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter while casting an optimistic eye toward the future.
“This evening, I come before you in a state of mourning,” he said during his speech. “We’re a city with a broken heart.”
But resilience, Woodfin argued, “is in our DNA,” and after a lengthy prayer from local pastor Terry Drake, he shifted his focus to the accomplishments of his administration’s first year at City Hall. The city, he said is, “writing another chapter in our grand legacy.” Read more.
Father Vernon Huguley acknowledged that many people couldn’t stand Larry Langford.
“But that’s alright too,” Langford’s former pastor said during his funeral Monday, “because if you can’t say ‘Amen,’ you need to say, ‘Ouch!’”
A few hundred people filled the sanctuary of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fairfield and spilled into the neighboring parish hall as Birmingham, Fairfield and Jefferson County said a final farewell to a man who lived life large.
“He was a good man with a good heart with the love of God in him,” Huguley said. “He wanted that love to be expressed and realized in the people who God placed in his circle.” Read more.
By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, WBHM
Like a lot of kids, Mark Pettway wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. But as he got older, things changed. Pettway begins his job as Jefferson County sheriff today. He’s the first African American to hold that post after defeating longtime Republican Sheriff Mike Hale in November. Read more.
Gov. Kay Ivey was sworn in this morning along with other constitutional officers in a ceremony of pomp and circumstances on the red carpet-lined steps of the Alabama Capitol.
The National Guard performed a flyover of the event, where the Alabama National Guard presented colors and the concert ensemble of Booker T. Washington Magnet School performed for a crowd that included four former governors and other constitutional officers.
Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions – whom Ivey pointed out came out of Wilcox County, as did she – also was in attendance, along with Reps. Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby representing Alabama’s congressional contingent.
A parade down Dexter Avenue was to follow at noon, and the Inaugural Gala will be held tonight at the Montgomery Civic Center.
Wearing a burgundy coat and cream pants on this overcast morning, as temperatures hovered in the mid-40s, Ivey pointed to recent successes in Alabama and laid out a few of Alabama’s biggest challenges in the coming year, which she said she looked at as “opportunities.”
Hundreds of mourners had already walked by the rose-covered casket in the center of Bill Harris Arena at the Birmingham CrossPlex by the time the visitation for Larry Langford was scheduled to begin.
The doors opened about 40 minutes before the scheduled start time of 2 p.m. because so many people had arrived early to pay their respects to the man whose resume included terms as mayor of Fairfield and Birmingham, and as president of the Jefferson County Commission.
People easily topping 1,000 lined up at three guestbooks. Each signed his name as validation of what Langford’s wife, Melva, and other relatives certainly already knew. The man whose life ended Wednesday in a Princeton Baptist Medical Center bed was more than a politician; he was a fixture in the community.
There were politicians, from state Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, to state Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham. But the masses were regular people. Many had known Langford from his days growing up in Titusville’s Loveman Village public housing community and later as he graced the airwaves as a TV journalist.
Two former Birmingham mayors spoke during a ceremony after visitors had finished strolling by the guarded casket. One of them, Bernard Kincaid, recalled the three-word slogan – Let’s Do Something – that allowed Langford to emerge from a field of 10 to be elected mayor of Birmingham without a runoff in 2007. Read more.
Monday is inauguration day, with a full slate of activities slated in Montgomery.
The day kicks off with a prayer breakfast before swearing-in ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. on the Capitol steps for constitutional officers, including Gov. Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov.-elect Will Ainsworth, Attorney General Steve Marshall, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Auditor Jim Ziegler.
Ivey’s inauguration speech will be televised live on Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal beginning at 10 a.m.
A parade follows at noon, and an invitation-only Inaugural Gala will be held tonight at the Montgomery Civic Center. Inaugural activities kicked off Saturday with a concert and celebration on the coast.