Debbie Elliott

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

The Senate is poised to pass a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill today that Democrats say is just the start. They plan to move quickly from what is a bipartisan victory to an entirely partisan spending plan.

Big Time Diner in Mobile, Ala., stopped serving on July 23.

"We had 12 people test positive, so we shut down," says Robert Momberger, owner of the neighborhood restaurant, which specializes in Southern sides and fresh Gulf seafood. He was among the staff who got sick, and he didn't want it to spread further.

"Oh, yeah, and unfortunately, I got through COVID, but during the process of COVID, I got pneumonia," he says. "That's what I'm trying to get over now."

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NOEL KING, HOST:

As some states pass laws to restrict voting, Black voting rights activists are fighting back with tactics reminiscent of the civil rights movement. Here's NPR's Debbie Elliott.

It's been 100 years since the Tulsa Race Massacre — one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. An armed white mob attacked Greenwood, a prosperous Black community in Tulsa, Okla., killing as many as 300 people. What was known as Black Wall Street was burned to the ground.

"Mother, I see men with guns," said Florence Mary Parrish, a small child looking out the window on the evening of May 31, 1921, when the siege began.

On April 27, 2011, one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history struck the Deep South. It was what forecasters call a Super Outbreak with at least 100 major, destructive tornadoes. More than 300 people lost their lives, and the rash of storms caused an estimated $10 billion worth of damage to homes, businesses, and government infrastructure.

One of the cities hit hardest was Tuscaloosa, Ala. A nearly mile wide tornado cut a path though the town, killing 53 people, and injuring 1200 more.

Toforest Johnson was 25 years old when he was sentenced to death in 1998 for the killing of a sheriff's deputy outside Birmingham, Ala. His oldest daughter, Shanaye Poole, now 29, remembers being in the courtroom.

"I just wanted to talk to him. He looked so handsome. He had a suit on. And of course, I didn't really know what was going on. I may have been 4 or 5 years old at the time," she says. "I saw him walk away, and that was the last day of his freedom."

Entrepreneur Keitra Bates stands in a gleaming glass-front retail shop in a new development on the south side of Atlanta.

"We're looking at almost 2,000-sq-ft. of raw space," she says, pointing out the floor-to-ceiling windows that face onto Atlanta's popular Beltline, railways converted to trails and parks encircling the city.

This will soon be the second location for a business she started called Marddy's — short for Market Buddies, a shared kitchen where home cooks can prepare their goods, and collectively market them.

A lingering mistrust of the medical system makes some Black Americans more hesitant to sign up for COVID-19 vaccines. It has played out in early data that show a stark disparity in whom is getting shots in this country — more than 60% going to white people, and less than 6% to African Americans. The mistrust is rooted in history, including the infamous U.S. study of syphilis that left Black men in Tuskegee, Ala., to suffer from the disease.

Alabama corrections officials say they were caught off-guard by a lawsuit this week from the Justice Department alleging dangerous and unconstitutional conditions in the state's prisons.

It's the latest in a long list of legal challenges over a system plagued by deadly violence and neglect.

In the best of times, service industry workers are typically paid below the minimum wage and rely on tips to make up the difference. Now, those still working in an industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic are on the front lines, enforcing COVID-19 safety measures at the expense of both tip earnings and avoiding harassment.

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