Jones addresses party controversy and "dangerous" politics at NAACP banquet in Foley

By Allison Marlow
Posted 8/23/19

When U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D) took the podium in front of members of the Baldwin County NAACP, he joked that they knew how to lure him away from his busy schedule.

He told them that they knew …

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Jones addresses party controversy and "dangerous" politics at NAACP banquet in Foley

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When U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D) took the podium in front of members of the Baldwin County NAACP, he joked that they knew how to lure him away from his busy schedule.

He told them that they knew the theme of the group’s 7th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, “Our Fight for Justice Continues,” would resonate with him.

And it did. In fact, Jones said, the fight for justice continues for many Americans.

“We are living in trying times,” he said. “As a nation we are deeply divided. It seems like our discourse has gotten to a point where many folks aren’t just disagreeing with the policy positions of each other they are literally holding each other in contempt for the views we have and that’s a very dangerous place to be.”

Jones placed much of the blame squarely on the shoulders of politicians on both sides of the aisle who stoke the fires with divisive and racist rhetoric for their own gain.

“It’s a strategy we have seen before, especially in Alabama,” he said. “Sometimes this rhetoric has deadly consequences.”

Jones read the list of the racially fueled shootings and bombings the nation has endured, beginning in 1963 with the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and ending with the pair of shootings earlier this month in El Paso and Dayton.

In the aftermath, he said we hear the same call for thoughts and prayers. But said he can think only of Robert F. Kennedy who was on the campaign trail in Indiana when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The presidential hopeful went into an inner city neighborhood to announce the tragedy where Jones said he made a spontaneous but remarkable speech.

“In this difficult day and this difficult time perhaps it is well to ask what kind of nation we are and what direction we want to move in,” Jones quoted from the speech. “He went on to say what we need is not division, it is not hatred, it is not violence or lawlessness but what the United States needs is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice for those who suffer whether they be white or black.”

Jones said he feels that if Kennedy were alive today he would amend that speech to add, “be they be Jewish or Muslim or Hispanic.”

“We’ve got to face it folks, we’re living in a politically toxic environment that is straining families and friendships. As we continue to see a rise in violence, I’m afraid we are moving into some dangerous territory.”

Jones reminded the crowd that as a democracy the force of change can only come from the people.

“Folks, this is the greatest democracy the world has ever seen but it is only as great as the people who exercise the right to vote and make their voices heard,” he said as the crowd erupted in applause.

He added that the “struggle for justice today is complicated because all of these issues are complicated and they are intertwined with each other. We are here to rededicate ourselves to do our part collectively and individually to bend the morale arch of the universe towards justice.”

Jones ended by addressing a controversy swirling in the Alabama Democratic party wherein the party secretary recently slammed the senator and the Democratic National Committee for ongoing attempts to overhaul the state party’s bylaws and leadership structure.

“I know voices in this state are questioning my commitment to the African American community,” he said. “Because I have had the audacity recently to challenge those who have controlled the Democratic party for a generation and clung to power despite the fact the party has been spiraling towards extinction under their watch … because I believe a viable two-party system is the only way for a state to truly progress and build on the NAACP mission of prosperity for all.

“If my life’s work … are not enough let me be crystal clear, I am with you. I am there for you. I have never left you and together we will remain vigilant in the mission of the NAACP, our shared mission and we’ll keep on a walking, keep on a talking and we’re not going to let nobody turn us around until the promise of America is made real for all Americans.”