Report Says 900k Alabamians Live in Poverty, Shoals Pride Fest Panel in Florence

Jun 16, 2016

Burned-out storefronts near Selma, Ala.
Credit Kairos Center

New poverty statistics paint a sobering picture for the state of Alabama.

The nonprofit organization Alabama Possible recently released their 2016 State Poverty Data Sheet. It reveals more than 900 thousand Alabamians currently live in poverty. Though it’s an issue across the state, conditions are especially grim in Alabama’s Black Belt. In Perry County, for example, nearly half the county’s residents live below the poverty line.

Kristina Scott is the Executive Director of Alabama Possible. She says that won’t change until the state’s government and business community commit to changing it.

“It’s about us deciding that we are going to make investments in these communities that have been left behind, because we’re better than that as a state. We’ve put men on the moon and we win national football championships. How can we have such a large geographic area in our state that does not have access to the same level of resources?”

In addition to compiling poverty data, Alabama Possible works to expand college access and organizes simulations to demonstrate the challenges associated with living below the poverty level.

Shoals Pride Fest is underway and a panel discussion is set is set to take place this evening on the subject of equality for the LGBT community.

Organizers will be joined by members of the University of North Alabama’s Department of Sociology and Family Studies. The group will speak and take questions at the Guillot University Center.

One subject is likely to be the lack of a LGBT anti-discrimination law in Alabama. Shoal Pride Fest President Benjamin Newbern says the events of last Sunday morning will also come up.

“Number one, we know that the Orlando tragedy, obviously, will be discussed. A lot of people are hurting, and this is such a universal thing. I don’t know what else to call it, frankly. It is so devastating.”

Newbern says the Shoals area has been welcoming to his group. The first Shoals Pride Fest last year drew eight hundred people. Newbern says attendance for this year’s event surpassed that mark yesterday.

One of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s judicial allies has filed a federal lawsuit challenging what he calls the state's unconstitutional restrictions on judges' speech.

Alabama Associate Justice Tom Parker filed his lawsuit against the state's Judicial Inquiry Commission yesterday. The suit challenges speech restrictions in the canons of judicial ethics.

Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint against Parker over remarks he made on a conservative talk show criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

Chief Justice Moore was automatically suspended from office after the Judicial Inquiry Commission charged him with several violations of judicial ethics in his actions during the fight over same-sex marriage. Parker's lawsuit also challenges that automatic suspension provision.