Bridge Crossing Jubilee Celebration organizer Sam Walker, below, and the rest of the organizers are putting the finishing touches on the annual event that draws thousands to Selma each year. The culminating event of Jubilee weekend is the bridge crossing re-enactment scheduled this year for Sunday, March 3. -- Sarah Cook

Organizers prepare for annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee

Published 11:07pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sam Walker, chairman for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee Celebration, said he expects thousands of people to flood Selma this year to celebrate the African American right to vote.

“This will be our 20th anniversary of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee and the 20th anniversary of the National Voting Rights Museum,” Walker said, who has helped coordinate the celebration for several years.

Although the bridge crossing celebration will occur Sunday, March 2, kick-off for Jubilee week will be Thursday, Feb. 28 beginning with a welcome reception at the St. James Hotel. There will also be a “mass meeting” at Tabernacle Baptist Church followed by a Miss Jubilee Pageant at School of Discovery.

Walker said the celebration, which started in 1993 to commemorate Bloody Sunday, has evolved into much more.

“The Jubilee is the national celebration of the right to vote,” he said. “It started out as an idea to just do something for the local community so they could come out and have an activity to do and also to recognize and remember the history.”

However, Walker said it wasn’t until the year 2000 that the celebration began receiving national recognition and attracting thousands of people.

“In the year 2000 then President Bill Clinton came to Selma and commemorated the 35th anniversary of Bloody Sunday,” Walker said. “He walked across the bridge with us.”

Then in 2007, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton visited Selma to participate in the annual march. Ever since then, Walker said the celebration has only grown.

“We went from two days for the first event to now we have five days just here in Selma,” Walker said.

This year, Walker said the celebration would also include a five-day reenactment of the Selma to Montgomery march.

“We’ll cross the bridge on March 3 and then starting Monday we’ll be walking to Montgomery between March 4 and March 8,” Walker said.

The celebration will conclude on the steps of the state capital, similar to the conclusion of the historic 1965 march.

Walker said along with celebrating the right to vote, Jubilee will also recognize current social and political issues.

“Last year a lot of people came out to protest the immigration laws,” Walker said. “And I’m sure others will come out this year to bring attention to other issues.”

Throughout the week, activities will be held throughout the city to commemorate the right to vote. Saturday, March 2, a Jubilee parade will be held followed by a battle of the bands and Jubilee Festival featuring gospel, hip-hop and R&B music.

Walker said he expects a large turnout for this years’ Jubilee and encouraged everyone to participate.

“President Lyndon Johnson, when he signed the voting rights act into law, he stated that without the voting rights law all the other laws are meaningless,” Walker said.

“So if you don’t have that one law, the foundation of your democracy is meaningless.”

For more information about Jubilee and along with a full list of events that will be held throughout the week, visit selmajubilee.com.

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