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#152 The Real Enemy, Part 1


The Alabama Democrats fight an unlikely foe in a struggle for Alabama’s future: themselves. Emmanuel Dzotsi reports.

Additional reading: 

Video of Sheila Gilbert being rejected from the SDEC

Tabitha Isner's concession speech

Dixiecrats walk out of the 1948 Democratic Convention

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Forgive my require ip Deva and I'm Alex Goldman. We are here today with producer manual, Georgie Home annual Tacs, you have a story, or ass. I do indeed so I'm the story I'm working on as well as that by saying I'm a really big political junkie, so I actually used to be stoned politics that I wanted to do it for them oh yeah. I also took assigns major in college and background, even though I wasn't like us, they isn't of United States. Yet I would like sign up to volunteer to help. I go work on poles. Oh, I will supersaver into it when I'm supposed to be doing work I'm like a lot of the time, I'm just reading about political stories. To be honest, I ve looked of yours
I could see in your favour, like I know, you're, about to say, because I've seen it whenever this better procrastination than mere Alex is there we just play video games, yeah yeah and visited Greece thing. I've been liking, thinking a lot about going into twenty twenty, which is just like how the hell like the Democratic Party, is going to be able to coalesced and come together in a way that people as they may need to two like Defeat Donald Trump Lagrange, I constantly fighting with each other and as someone who finds like always now it is about fighting so boring. What, as I found so fascinating about Miss story, it's more than just before and the fact that you know people are fighting in politics is that there are all these issues of race, unlike what it means to have political power and representation by others bubbling beneath the surface. It's a story that takes place in Alabama and the Democrats
having a fight but is way uglier and crazier than anything that you saying on the national state and the first thing But I just want to show you is this video? I found a line a few months ago and you're saying you found on the internet. I did find it only in Africa, as is by job cuts Lee. I have already said it, but this is a really good. I probably up ok, so this is a video of the alibi. My democratic party, specifically like a special committee that runs for party these folks, are the bosses and they all sit on a sort of like special committee. That's called the S de easy there s the easy, yes not to be confused with the US is evil resolving. As you see the governing body, I would only make one of those computers, but anyway you just see a bunch of people, Lighting board in an institutional building and a guy in a wholly on chairs, eloquent gas and like
Reason we all these people a meeting is because open seats in the committee is this a meeting of the people who run things deciding whether they want to bring on more people to help robotics YAP and this guy? but you see like up at the podium he is now making somebody to fill one of those on this committee, her name she lay Gilbert and if you win so be representing a voting district on the committee and she was really qualified to take the spot. She's word for politicians and the state for years to run, like the kind of democratic organisation where she lives and there's one more thing. You know about either, which is that she's white? Ok, who's your any against nobody like bats, that you're gonna be made a thing about this. Is that she's, like a done deal like, provide no opposition? Yeah? Ok, so there in Europe to the vote? It is
small smattering of people Yan members. Why and what I hear like look about like giant blocker, people stand over, not only the peasant running the meeting just said you have not been elected like Sheila Gilbert didn't get bad position, even though she was running completely unopposed. So what is I mean? What what that means is that has seen just days empty Is this we representative from that burning district on the committee? So it's like there's no power the leader in that area, to defending its Republicans, yeah, basically and was even crazy- is that that happens twenty other times that day again and again, but black people to vote down white candidates, which obviously does not make sense, is like a logical strategy for winning but when I started making calls the people what they told me was like. Oh, oh, this everything you think this video it all.
And from the influence of one person who controls the party and that one man is I named John Reed, is anyone years old, his black and he's kind of a legend, and I called in animals like hey. You know, I'm a black journalist and fascinated by all this, and I gotta talk to me. This is doctor, read by a council reports, I'm talking to the most powerful man in the other Baron Democratic Party. Right now, we're all say that oh Gee data items in an active and act as a public servant carry up the democratic body and I are about until now. Don't we paid wait a bit, but I am a man who was it not look when they were trying to grab it if they just simply want to third shows exactly lying to me, but you should have been cruelly humble about this whole thing. Right leg of the law thirty years Jos, had complete control of the Democratic Party, and in that
like the room we watch demeaning, like nothing, can happen on that committee. Unless Joe wants it to actually asked worried about this video. I was like what is going on. It looks like you're blocking like a whole sleigh of candidates, and most of them seemed to be white, and what he told me was o won't. Of course, I did not tell you exactly why we bury this amount to carry me off get up your. I was mad. No is someone can in my house, is going to turn up. I would love him, but these were met and they will come at a gallop gorgon out against us and that we learn both fallen. What you described me, I'm not then be granted. Let them strongly basically gems. You mean that the reason you get those these bacon is because the people too
to fill those seeds like we're, trying to destroy him and destroy the Democratic party. I really like in general what Video and learning about you read the thing I notice was like almost all of these people, who even to trying to destroy the democratic party. Their way get exactly, but like the thing that complicated, like a picture of your red for me, is that is not as simple as him hating or white people like, but one person he seems to trust above everybody is a white woman. This white woman named Nancy Worley, a very divisive person who is, share of the Alphabet Democratic Party and if my jaw red is the unofficial head of the alibi with Democratic Party Nancy Worthy, is the official had bay together form kind of like a bit of a political dynamo in Alabama got? It biography about consuming the Democratic Party in Alabama right now. All you need to know is that it centers around these two. Okay. Did you want to take the story from here yeah? So
I want to start the story by just telling you about women who wandered into his enormous fight completely by accident. I have an aim. Is that of the eyes now she runs a nonprofit and seasonal, Dane Minister, but for the purposes of this story, or you need to know, is that time of her is extremely passionate about political, organizing volunteers. Now my address and know that they can show up their board that, like with the stance. It doesn't seem like surprise me, a beat for Democratic Alabama, that's because she's living in the aftermath of like an actual honest to God, political miracle. Like every thought anything about an abominable dogs at all? This is the thing you ve heard of Publican Roy, more democratic Doug Jones are vying to take over the Senate, see vacated by attorney General Jeff sessions. Doug Jones, an attorney famous in Alabama for prosecuting Bouquet J K, was up against the convoy. More very far, right judge
it seemed like Roy. More was gonna take the sea until this thing happened just four weeks before the election and just in from the Washington Post, they are reporting a potentially seismic allegation. A woman is alleging Roy more initiate this sexual encounter with her when she was just for In years, all pulling shows the two candidates are neck and neck ahead of Tuesday special election, the knight of the election tub of those I watch Party, Montgomery June, expect of Jones to win But she was working the room, networking I'm with the clipboard gone around, trying to make sure I get every last persons contact info and then and then all this the place erupts into cheering and I'm clue that's looking around like what happens, then see a tv and realise that we have one this thing Doug Jones, the Democrat, he will be the next. I did say, Senator from Alabama,
I gotta tell you pay good. I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don't know what the hell those looking around the other people in the room, and she says that for all of them that moment felt like a revelation like what ho Democrats, could win in Alabama. It was like it heard to all Allah hundred fifty people in the same thirty seconds you could just watch me. Eyes all this, realize oh my gosh. What if we want other things across the state democratic? Having that same realization people who always sat on the sidelines by Alabama politics were now at up a bit to get involved. It was gonna, be a revolution they wanted in
over time. The mid term elections arrive at following year. A whole bevy of Democrats were ready to run against Republicans, but that year, most Democrats would all hit their heads against the same brick wall, their own state party. One of these Democrats was Tabitha when she decided to run she knew, but one first things he had to do was: go and see Nancy Worley, because I state Party Chair Nancy Job is to have a whole bird's eye view of a parties election strategy, it her job to know who's running where and how the parties can support them. So tat ever make an appointment with Nancy. Had to our office where's the headquarters. It is an downtown Montgomery, its support. Small one story building there are very few people there. No volunteers, It is so silence in that place. It is crickets tariffs. She waited for forty five minutes before Nancy appeared and when she did Thomas
of a big question. I need to know if there is a candidate that you have in mind. Are you preparing someone for their seats and you'll be happy to support somebody. If you ve got good candidate already lined up? And if you don't, what do you think about me running? here the things that I think would be good about me and the things that wouldn't be and ass. She said care if he ran and I don't care if you run yeah. That's your decision like. Unlike what kind of way like it I like yeah, go ahead or like like You told him to like how does he say it? The look on your face of confusion. That was the look my face of sort of what what what just happened. Did she did she offer you found banks The offer you like want is now. She offer you money like fun, fundraising, dawns now. So what does she off here? Literally? Nothing.
However, the experience of Nancy was pretty typical. Beata democratic Party is known to be disorganized under funded, but this meeting convinced but it was actually worse than that. But Nancy had no plan. To capitalize on this Post Doug Jones Energy, no plan win so, however, decided, but He was gonna. Just do this on her. She hired a campaign manager cobbled together a team of volunteers, raised over half a million dollars. He was doing really wealth, first time but TAT Avenue but if you really wanted to win, she'd need the support of the all powerful Joe read because as a white demographic running in Alabama Tarifa, couldn't win without the backlog but when she needed an endorsement from Joe reads organization, a black political group called the d C. So tat over after reading the ABC for their support and she got it. However, there was a cat, they endorse me and
Three days later, I got a phone call saying ordered to tell voter, that we endorse you, you need to pay as fifteen thousand dollars. What thousand is, unlike like we need you to like why would they need fifty thousand dollars to get the word out to black Bars in my district, how, to day tell you that needed to be the same They call you on the phone doktor Joe Reed on the phone and says you need to pay this money. What did you say? I dont. I remember now planning to fifteen thousand dollars? I already have my get out the vote plan for the primary. I can't just write you a check for fifteen thousand dollars. And he said well, it's what you need to do and we were very quickly, impasse where there was negotiating about it and I was like well let me I let me see what I can. Let me see what I can do,
Terrific didn't want to lose the endorsement, so she wrote a check for the maximum amount. Her campaigns allowed to give five thousand dollars and she dropped it offered Jerry. Office and sat I'm sorry, but I dont know at this point how I can give you more than five Thousand dollars legally Let me know if you're, if you're doing get out the vote for me. If a service provider, a business send me an inn. Place for the services that your providing and I can pay it. They never did They asked me to pay some more money into a different pack, but I could fly no record that that pack existed the data for this whole thing. For a lot like paid to play, but when I talk to you about this, He said he hadn't done anything wrong getting out. The black vote takes money in any case
I didn't have time to fight about this. She had an election coming up, so she went about her business kept campaigning, and just so. I hope that Joe Red would go ahead and get out the back vote for her decisions. We have been with you all night long as the vote can pay to come across Alabama, yet now many November, six twenty, eighteen, maybe every single Democrat like around the stay in Alabama runs against a Republican loses obviously a great deal of disappointment here at the Democratic Watch Party at check county in hospital, including Tabitha, and when it comes to. I'm to give her concessions beat all that forestry. So she stifle join the campaign. It just comes out ya, got up and see me angry and my anger much on this campaign drowned, but I can get angry.
I am angry at one point in the speech of his thoughts listing means amounting hurdles, her campaign faced and about list she and her own party leader have the support of the state body. What are they It never occurred to me that I certainly think now. It's gonna upset some of the party, a there's, not a party, to upset stand by my statement. What party is not an act of party but. But it certainly wasn't I and trying to start that fight. I know and rights that evening now and the one I meant to get into trouble. Had accidentally illicit herself in a war, a war that would pay democratic against democratic, putting people like Tabitha against.
See and ultimately Joe Red Video clip of tat of his speech. It went viral in Alabama across the state democratic for making accusations the problem on a banner wasn't the GNP. It was a democratic party. People compared notes, Nancy Dinner on campaign as in time for the legislative session. Nobody could even get a hold of her like not even on the phone, and I personally can attest the I too victimized by Nancy's voicemail, which is always full anyway. The problem was so The people who wanted to fix the Party of Taste Nancy didn't have any power what they need. He did was somebody with real clout, five evidence me. You know that don't you gonna see why I met some of the dog Jones in his isn't downtown Birmingham and even though, has been It is two years since he ran the Senate and one he still angry about how the State Party treated in curious,
when you ran for Senate in that special election for seventeen. What? Party, do feel damned thing anything nothing. We tried it then they wouldn't they wouldn't even agree to help manage some get out. The vote monies that we could bring into the party because they wanted to completely control and not even cord whether and I'll be damned. If I was going to do that, so we build, our own infrastructure for that special election without regard to the particles, the party couldn't do it, they had no mechanism to do it. We have nothing that challenges the Republican Party today, which is passing some horrible legislation, and you got nothing but crickets coming out of the State party. Here's the thing DOW Jones knows that in just a year he has to run for reelection, and this time he can't cow running against an alleged child molesters. So to have a fighting chance, Doug Jones is going to need and actual functional state party led by somebody, who's, not Nancy Worthy
and our Jones knew, but if you wanted Nancy gone, he'd have to get permission from John Reed. I went to visit Doktor read in March after I got sworn in, decide dot. Look a lot of people out there that won't your scout adult that that's not my issue I am in a position. They all that I can really help this party. We can do things raise money. We can pay off debt, we can recruit candidates there such an energy, but we can't do it as long as the current leadership is in place. We can't do it. I can. If I can't ask p, well to give money for a state party that no one has any confidence in. I told Joe, I said help me find somebody
they can run is if we can get new leadership. We can do a lot of things. I got completely shut up. I asked you read about this meeting after the young will elect became all said he wanted to report a chair. I ask him: what are you well? He named personally, we may as well as about a chair at the well, what she's gonna be a flagship whom, what you do at the failure of the now I'm not gonna. Do that. You want me to get real macrian. We offer you, u offended, that he was running,
There were no matter what I know a man. If I didn't chemical thou woodlands already the lucky you didn't want anyone would make a commitment at the edge of it. All back won't want to my political philosophy of crime. The worst crime is in gratitude you stayed loyal to your friends make as many friends as you can, but don't leave an old friend to make a new friend what you're saying makes sense in like a basic school, y'all kind of way sure is insane Joe Red is choosing to pick a fight with a sitting. You a senator the superstar them, right in Alabama. Why not destroy the compromise, why didn't stand yet was that while don't Jones vote
He and Joe on the same side fighting the same opponent, the Republicans, that's not actually how Joe sore it. So that's just look at it from Joseph Sector for a second, take you back to Montgomery emanating sixties, Joe Reed was a young activists and he met his enemy for the first time Montgomery. It was one of the biggest battleground civil rights movement. If we're minded can junior amount voting rights where Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus. It's where George Wallace gave its notorious inaugural address. Jerry face off against George Wallace? Quite a few times in his career and jewelled Wallace, like most politicians, Joe, was fighting back then was a Democrat Democrats ran the state and the other Bam Democrats was so racist above
eight and the elevated Democrats was so racist, a bunch of them once the off from the National Party because they wanted to keep segregation, they were called Dixie. Grants in Alabama always had this problem for power, but we will be called a lot if in the next round, the lot of what a white beaucoup, but what we call on the progressive side of it, I can dig gradually those who wanted to brag forgot the rifle gives obligation and want to keep what I want you to go to school. Dixie grants would be Jerry's cause an enemy about them. The word Dixie Grab became like a personal shorthand for any white seven democratic Joe full was racist in the nineteen sixties. Joe rejoined us back activists organization. Called the Alabama Democratic Conference, the ABC there. We need to organise back people to vote Dictograph out of office, but the Dixie creates major getting to voting booth nearly impossible. I spoke to Randy
a member of the t c and a close allies Jerry needs before organizations like the ABC yeah I get the ABC doesn't happen. What is what is it like? War? Is political participation like for black people in Alabama evade easy, didn't exist, oh man. We would all have any political progress it because you gotta get key of a register in. You could get your he had better be people were afraid, devote an movement came out of bloodshed and Doktor Wrap David, am used to tell me That is why we welcome move, as we do as black folks is, because we walk over a carpet pay with blue, so everything We ve got an element we ve had to fight for a copy of the carpet. Pay with blue. The eighty see took their fight to the court's, knocking down obstacles between black people.
Voting booth, the Alabama Democratic conferences, sue the municipalities. They pursue the cameras, Dave suit. To board the brag about City Council persons counted commissioners even read: destroy, allude everybody, yes or no, Thank you to all used to say my mentor. He was They woke up in the morning looking for some Agnes Zoo and went to bed upset at night, because the current In spite this, the ABC also fall back again: Dixie Grass, aggressive gerrymandering, Tuscany was. It was cut like a sea monster to keep black people from, and what do you mean by that? Like, however, gerrymandering because making count is a heavily populated, Black Cannon, so they hit. Drawn in a very askew way to keep on black people, man elected by the late, in seventeen, Joe readers The eighty black people voting in
huge numbers numbers big enough to finally vote with Dixie that's out of office, but now there wasn't a Dixie crack in sight and it wasn't because they were gone. It was just that White Perhaps you wanted to win. Elections now knew there was no way for them. The win without convincing black voters there on their side, even George one George aggregation forever: Wallace call himself, Dixie Grand and by his loss. The governor and eighty two key was quoting the back though so now our voters have to decide who was it Dixie, cracked in disguise, and one person they relied on to tell them was Joe Red You would actually handout sample ballots. Two black voters telling them which politicians were safe to vote for Joe. It helped to organise a real black electoral and out of ammo, and if you'd stop there, his legacy would have been secure. He probably would have spent his eightys. I dunno hanging out with his grandkids and appearing in PBS
countries, but in ninety ninety. This thing happens kind of by accident that gives Jovi Keys to be Alabama Democratic Party for decades to come and it started with a problem which is that even though the Democratic Party was increasingly made up of black people. De leadership. The people on the list Yes, he was still mostly why it's an imbalance so Joe and his eyes followed, lawsuit and, as a result of this that follows Joe is handed. Extraordinary amount of power. What first is a slight simplification, but this given that the party comes out with the fixed the imbalance, side on a new rule and men in due to some purpose, but that role made it so that jobs for the next twenty eight years, could add, cease to be ass? The easy and fill those seats with his allies? It's like the political version of a licence to print,
I've never heard of a rule like this. So much so, but I call it the jaw readable, which brings us back to the present Jos turned himself into a political jogging And on a banner, which is why, when Doug Jones once Nancy Worthy gone, he has to go ass, Joe first so TAT Jones, like countless white Democrats before him, asked your red to trust him. I'm what Joe Years is a man asking him to give up. Control of a party has built a white Democrat trying to put that people in their place. You I'd want to travel to nineteen hundred and seventy four eight. I get work to be carried out. A party or burn out yeah follow that have also, though I was trying to do the same. By he's travel that look like an flaws in the democratic body they want to get rid of their large numbers were black, but I guess my question is like: why would somebody like Doug Jones, like that
is famous for representing, like the girls who were killed in that bombing in Burma like. Why would he want to get rid of black people on the on the board? Not so much? I grew black or white who gave me or to control them, but is it I guess I guess my question is: is it about controlling black people? It is controlling the party both you can. Control would like, for you can control body because blacker, my job in the party. But we are not going to stand by to be where abortion, but about a girls. The donjon Inn about out for decades, Jos predicted he's democratic Party against the people. He believes but the story it once you understand that you understand way does anything. He does why down. She lay Gilbert and twenty other candidates on that day, back in twenty fifteen, why he refuses to give
financing worthy Joe Read, will not walk away from a fight, even if that fight, risking everything fought for Emmanuel church. She is a pretty stern working, this way over the next two episodes before this is over. You will see Democrats going to war with each other in public ugly ways see reports coups in our by other coups again. Turning party official, I heated dispute over who has cleaned most toilets. But the end. The Democratic Party in Alabama will be changed forever requires us to buy me PDA vote now, sportsmen Bruce pressure, the payment we feel abandoned demand. A Hetty Anatoly just young male Georgie.
Producers, TIM Howard, Remix by pirate conning Catherine Anderson, factual, by Michel Harris are internist, Rachel count our musings by Mr. Robots are cylinder music in the sub from break messrs cylinder and Luke Williams, such things as we call it. Cindy, Brantome, Natalie Davis, Jack Drake, great Schmidt had opportunity. Libraries. High Roper never seen North Carolina and doktor. However, Robinson at Alabama State University Valley, there is a window that keeps the called out. You Viner, show but if I ever get your podcast dates, roasting are episode is interviewed. Right now goes into it,
Transcript generated on 2020-02-13.