Yolanda Rochelle Flowers is the first Black woman to be nominated for Governor of Alabama by either major political party, but rather than uniting behind their historic nominee, some Alabama Democrats have intensely criticized Flowers in the weeks following her June 21 Democratic Primary runoff win over State Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier (D-Selma).
Flowers spoke with 1819 News about her campaign and the criticism she has received online on social media, via email and even in in-person conversations.
Flowers, who began each day on her Facebook site with a prayer for herself, the campaign, and the prosperity of the people of Alabama, has received heavy criticism for that approach in the weeks since the runoff win.
“There have been very ugly comments,” Flowers said.
“One asked if I was in the Ku Klux Klan and said I was either that or a Republican in disguise,” Flowers said of an email she received.
“They believe in separation between church and state,” Flowers said of some of her critics.
When asked if her critics were trying to silence Christians within the Democratic Party, Flowers stated, “You would have to ask them.”
She went on to share her experience, saying, “They wanted to know if I would adhere to the platform of the national Democratic Party, and they did not like me quoting Scripture. When the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision, everything hit the fan.
“They saw online that I was endorsed by the Democrats for Life group and became very angry. Some people who had donated to my campaign asked for their money back.”
Flowers addressed her critics and the Alabama Democratic Party’s tortured history on the subject of race in a statement.
"Good evening, My Dear Alabama! Several people have scandalized my name and, sad to say, it was those of the Democratic Party,” Flowers said. “I think about the Dems before the Reconstruction Era, during the time of, and during the hundred years later. Our party was terrible and did not honor the Declaration of Independence. They wanted slavery to continue (Jacksonian Democracy and the Southern Democrats) thus the Civil War. There’s still some seeds of malice and bigotry within our party that has been passed along. Although the Jacksonian Democracy died, it left a powerful legacy (White supremacy). The Second Reconstruction of the 1950s and the 1960s “forced” Democrats to reckon with the party’s past only to see schisms (as are being played out right now) and because of that the Republicans picked up the ball and has been running with it. Racial Prejudice continues to run through the veins of our party as does egalitarianism. Our party is schizophrenic and it needs to be fixed. 'A HOUSE DIVIDED CANNOT STAND.'
“Now, we have been graced with another opportunity to ”Reconstruct” our party during this Third Reconstruction period, however, it’s going to take us all working together to make change and render healing. I’m praying that the malice stops soon and that we come [to] our right mind, and work towards the greater good. Peace to you, My Dear Alabama!! I Love you so!!!”
Flowers said that she was torn by the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“The women were really upset,” Flowers said. “That was a heart-wrenching decision, how to balance my love for the babies with the love for that 10-year-old who might be pregnant through incest or sex trafficking. At the end of it all, I had to think about my grandbabies.”
Prior to the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, Flowers expressed to 1819 News that she supported a legal abortion option to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest; she felt that 10- and 12-year-old girls should not be forced to bear pregnancy and premature motherhood.
Flowers told 1819 News that she favors a state constitutional amendment adding exceptions to Alabama's abortion ban for victims of rape and incest but acknowledged that as governor she would have to work across the aisle with the Republican legislature to pass that.
Flowers said that there is a divide between older Democrats and younger Democrats who are too often ignorant of the role that prominent Black church and religious leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth played in the Civil Rights Movement and winning voting rights for Black Alabamians.
“The Civil Rights Movement was through the African American churches,” Flowers said. “They don’t know the history unless they dive into the history in depth.”
Flowers said that even the Black churches do not have the same spirit that they have had in the past.
“We have become lukewarm,” Flowers said. “We have got to get our young people involved.”
Flowers said that a couple of churches have allowed her to speak, but most have not.
“They will not let me speak because they are worried about their 501(c)(3) status or because of the separation between church and state,” Flowers said.
Flowers said that she would like to work with the Alabama Democratic Party now that she is the nominee, but they have not reached out.
“They have not reached out to me,” Flowers said. “I would love guidance. I am new to this. I am still learning. There is a lot I don’t know.”
Flowers said that she was eager to have the opportunity to debate Kay Ivey and she welcomed the Libertarian candidate for Governor Dr. Jimmy Blake into the race and on the debate stage.
“Everybody can run, welcome to the fight,” Flowers said.
1819 News asked Flowers if the Alabama Democratic Party was going to hold an in-person meeting of the state executive committee or if they were still worried about COVID.
“I don’t know what they are going to do,” Flowers said. “I haven’t heard about it.”
The general election will be Nov. 8.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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