Thursday, August 13, 2020

Black Lives Matter videos question sincerity of Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning when he denounces racism while embracing Balch Bingham law firm

Tom Fanning -- CEO of Southern Company, parent firm of Alabama Power -- in early June released a statement denouncing racism in all its forms. But two new videos from Black Lives Matter (BLM) raise questions about the sincerity of Fanning's statement -- given his company's ongoing relationship with Birmingham's Balch Bingham law firm, with its recent history of racially dubious actions.(See videos above and below.)

The first video is titled "Big Oil Stands With Black Lives Matter." How solid is that support? Well, that is uncertain, per

Despite Chevron’s public comments in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Global Witness finds that Chevron gives over four times more campaign funding to US politicians who fail to uphold racial justice and civil rights legislation.

As the United States faces a watershed moment in the country’s movement for racial justice, Chevron is aiming to portray itself as an ally to Black communities with public statements of solidarity in the struggle against systemic racism. However, Global Witness found that behind the scenes, the company funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars through its political action committee to politicians whose civil rights voting records earned “F” grades from the NAACP[1]. According to a Global Witness analysis, Chevron gave over 4 times more in political funding to candidates with “failing” civil rights grades than to politicians with “passing” grades, as scored by the civil rights organization’s 2019 Legislative Civil Rights Report Card for the 116th Congress.

K.B. Forbes, publisher of, brings matters closer to home:

An international grassroots effort in the Black community to hold Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning accountable for hypocritically denouncing racism while utilizing the embattled and alleged racist law firm Balch Bingham is now percolating.

Two new videos are out on YouTube and generating buzz. Fanning’s June 6th statement denouncing racism in all its forms is questioned in both videos.

“But sir, was this just a media stunt or a publicity circus?”

The videos discuss items that this website has outlined including:

* The North Birmingham Bribery Scandal that suppressed African-Americans from having their toxic and contaminated property tested by the EPA.

* The letting-go last year of Balch’s only African-American female attorney who headed diversity efforts, while the law firm hired 8 new associates months later, all of them white.

* Balch Bingham’s refusal to apologize to the African-American community of North Birmingham for convicted-felon and ex-Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert’s misconduct.

What were the words Fanning stated quite eloquently earlier this summer? Let's take a look:

I want to follow-up on the public statement the Southern Company Management Council issued one week ago regarding our struggle for racial equality across this nation. I want to be very clear about what this company stands for and what our short- and long-term response will be.

Racism, in any form, is abhorrent. It cannot and will not be accepted, ignored or dismissed. It must be confronted head-on across our society as it is within our company. The time has come to uncover and destroy systemic racism in all its forms.

We find ourselves in a critical and historic time. While we could be secure in knowing that justice and equality are embedded in Our Values – the ethical and moral compass that centers us – ultimately, we must realize that there is more work to be done and that we are being called to do it.

This week, we asked employees to share their voice to have it be heard by our organizational leaders as we consider additional solutions moving forward. I thank those who have taken the time to present their thoughts and feelings.

I reviewed the feedback with the Southern Company Management Council earlier today. We agreed that it is so important for all of us to keep the conversations going and listen to one another. Out of the different themes that arose, one question stands out: How do we make sure this time is different?

Those are powerful words. But BLM raises this question: Do they mean anything, as long as Fanning embraces a racially insensitive law firm, such as Balch Bingham?

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