Calling Jeff Sessions “racist” conveniently ignores the work he’s done for Alabama’s black community

If liberals like to claim that they don’t think in simple black-and-white terms, perhaps they would consider the important work Sessions has done for the past decade and a half with Bob Woodson, an African-American community leader awarded a MacArthur fellowship (commonly known as a “genius grant”) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush.

I’ve worked with Woodson over the past couple of years, including appearing with him on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss his work with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Woodson told Salon that he first met Sessions in 2001 when Catherine Flowers, a community leader working to salvage her rural Alabama community in crisis, came to his Washington office at the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (formerly CNE, now known as The Woodson Center) to ask for help.

According to Woodson, the most pressing issue facing Flowers’ community involved 37 families facing arrest or eviction following the issuing of health regulation violations when officials discovered raw sewage flowing above ground on their property. These residents desperately wanted a solution to the threat to their well-being and their children’s health, but the $12,000 required to install septic tanks was hopelessly beyond reach. (This was in a community where the average income was $20,000, the poverty rate above 30 percent and families live in dilapidated trailers.)