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Legislators Brooks, Brown, Fort And Lucas Are Supporting Quitman 10

by Omowale Afro 13X

A group of Black people made history in Brooks County during the 2010 elections. Brooks County is a predominantly white county with a majority Black school district In South Georgia; Quitman is its major city.

Senators Robert Brown and Vincent Fort are working with Representatives Tyrone Brooks and David Lucas to keep the history-makers out of jail.

After years of frustration with the failure of the school system to deliver quality services to its predominantly Black students, Dr. Nancy Dennard and other citizens mobilized a massive voter turnout and elected a majority Black school board.

The incumbents took extraordinary steps to hold their positions. "They spent over $100,000 and ran twice. We spent around $2500 and beat them both times," Dr. Dennard said.

Prior to 2010, several attempts were made to win school board seats in Brooks County. All fell within close margins of victory, "due to questionable machine counts," according to Dr. Dennard.

Black citizens in Brooks County did not trust voting machines so organizers used the early voting period to push absentee balloting. The candidates of their choice won the 2010 General Primary. In an unusual move, the losers qualified to run as write-in candidates in the General Election.

"We contacted the Secretary of State, united States Department of Justice and went to the Superior Court to block their attempts to have two bites at the apple," Dr. Dennard said. Unfortunately, they received typical South Georgia justice and the Court held that allowing the losers to run twice "is held in substantial compliance with the law..."

The determined activists were able to win again in the November elections. This angered the local establishment and the newly elected officials and some of their allies, known as the Quitman 10, were arrested on December 21, 2010, and charged with illegal possession of an absentee ballot and voter fraud

This injustice came to the attention of State Senator Robert Brown, Senate Democratic Leader and Servant Leader of the October 16th Movement. In order to bring attention to and honor their courageous efforts, the October 16th Movement honored the Quitman 10 at the First Annual Rural Black Family Day at the state capitol on February 22, 2011.

Tyrone Brooks has thrown the full support of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO) behind the movement to bring justice to Brooks County. Representative Brooks said. "this case reminds me of the struggle in Aliceville, Pickens County Alabama in 1982." Two Black women had been accused of similar voting violations. "We marched to Washington, DC and used this case to persuade Ronald Reagan of the need to renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965," Brooks said.

Senator Vincent Fort is seeking to broaden the defense coalition to include domestic civil and human rights organizations, Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. "if we can send our young men and women to fight for freedom in countries near Cairo in North Africa, we can wage a non-violent war for justice in counties near the city of Cairo in South Georgia," Fort said.

Representative David Lucas identified a location in Macon to hold a rally for the Quitman 10 on May 14, 2011. Lucas challenged men to attend the rally and advance the Quitman 10's cause. "We men should be shamed into action in the face of 9 of the Quitman 10 arrested are women." Lucas said.

Representative Lucas also pointed out that 4 of the legislators who defected from the Democratic Party either represent Brooks County or counties close to Brooks County. "We must not allow Black voters to be intimidated in an area of the state where we need to take back Democratic seats," Lucas said. The October 16th Movement is planning a massive voter registration and mobilization in rural Georgia to regain Democratic Legislative offices and ensure President Barack Obama a majority in Georgia, in the 2012 General Election.

© Copyright 2010 by The Informer, Inc.
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quitman 10
The Quitman-Ten
L-R Front Row: Linda Troutman, Lula Smart, April Proctor, Diane Thomas
L-R Back Row: Latashia Head, Sandra Cody, Robert Dennard, Angela Bryant Nancy Dennard, and Kechia Harrison