Battle of Selma marker, Jimmie Lee Jackson nurse and Bentley tax proposal

Feb 27, 2015

Major General James H. Wilson ca. 1865

The world is getting ready to remember the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma early next month. But another bit of Selma history is being remembered now.

100 years before the voting rights march and Bloody Sunday, the Battle of Selma took place during the Civil War. A historic marker was just unveiled at the corner of Highland and Summerfield Road.

In April of 1965, Union general James H. Wilson defeated the troops under Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. Wilson’s biographer, Edward Longacre, says Wilson was only 27 at the time.

“He was actually a more distinguished boy general than the one we think of as the pre-emininent boy general of the war, General George Armstrong Custer. In fact, Custer and Wilson served together, and for a short period of time Custer was under Wilson’s command.”

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Selma is in April.

Fifty years ago yesterday, civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being beaten and shot by an Alabama State Police Trooper.

Jackson’s death helped bring civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma and kicked off the marches from Selma to Montgomery.

Vera Jenkins Booker was the nurse that tended to Jackson when he was brought into Selma's Good Samaritan Hospital.

“I pulled up his shirt, pulled that up and there on the left side of him was a mass of intestines that was out, where the hole was where he got shot.”

Booker was also called upon to help civil rights marchers who were beaten by state troopers as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was brought in to testify in the case of James Bonard Fowler, the trooper who shot Jackson. Fowler pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the killing in November of 2010.

Governor Robert Bentley is expected to lay out his plans to address a shortfall in the state General Fund budget today.

Bentley plans to hold a press briefing today at 11 a.m. The governor said last week that he plans to seek nearly $700 million in taxes and revenue. Bentley said cuts and consolidations can no longer keep the General Fund afloat, and that the state has no choice but to raise taxes.

The Republican governor is facing considerable opposition to the proposal within his own party. The Alabama Republican Party approved a resolution last Saturday opposing tax hikes as a solution to the state's budget woes.

The upcoming legislative session begins Tuesday.

A state senator who criticized Governor Bentley's proposed tax package is paying the price – state road projects in the senator's district have been canceled.

Bill Holtzclaw of Madison County put up a billboard last week that read: “Governor Bentley wants to raise your taxes. I will not let that happen.” Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper says if Holtzclaw feels that way about taxes, he probably wouldn't be comfortable with a large sum of taxpayer dollars being spent in his district.

As a result, multiple DOT road projects in Holtzclaw's district have been canceled. Cooper says he was not directed by Governor Bentley to cancel the construction, but it was the governor that initially made him aware of the billboard.