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Jubilee organizers’ spirit should be infectious

Published 9:58pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013

By Joe Rembert

Pastor of New Beginnings Christian Center

I extend kudos to all of the entities that made the Bridge Crossing Jubilee a success. As I traveled from Selma to Montgomery on Bloody Sunday, I saw the caravans of buses, escorted by scores of police, sheriffs and state troopers. I believe Vice President Joe Biden’s entourage passed by us also.

Although I had walked from Selma to Montgomery twice (1982 and 1985) while serving as pastor of Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, I did not truly realize the enormity of the task of putting together a Bloody Sunday Commemoration or Jubilee until I became a spectator rather than a participant. Attorney Faya Rose Toure, Sam Walker and the other movers and shakers who served with them are to be commended for their tenacity in keeping the Jubilee vision alive.

Selma Mayor George Evans and the city council, and Dallas County Probate Judge Kimbrough Ballard, along with the Dallas County Commission, are to be commended for their involvement. The Selma Times Journal’s pre-events coverage of the Jubilee was excellent.

Of course, the attack on Section 5 of the voting rights act at the Supreme Court brought a sense of urgency to make a bold statement of support for the continuation of the act without cutting out its heart.

In 1982, I joined SCLC in a caravan from Tuskegee to Washington D.C. to highlight the need for a twenty-five year extension of the act.

However, it was rather disheartening to find out that a few of our loudest “fired up” chanters had not registered to vote. But, that’s a thought for another article.

It is my hope that the spirit of cooperation between various groups, from congress to the local vendors, will permeate the daily life of this city and county. Selma is now the home of two national landmarks, Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church and the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Selma is known for its role in the civil war and the civil rights struggle.

It is my prayer that the gridlock can remain broken and leaders in this city can use its celebrity status to raise the quality of life for all of its citizens.

Many people of color await the “I have a dream” speech in August. But I am equally fond of Dr. King’s “Give us the ballot” speech of 1957.

In that speech, Dr. King challenged the federal government to refrain from being superficial. He called for a leadership from moderate whites to do what is right. He also challenged black leadership to be right in our successes as well as our failures. King spoke these words in his speech:

“We need a leadership that is calm and yet positive. This is no day for the rabble-rouser, whether he be Negro or white. We must realize that we are grappling with the most weighty social problem of the nation and with such a complex problem there is no place for misguided emotionalism. 

We must work passionately and relentlessly for the goal of freedom, but we must make sure that our hands are clean in the struggle…There is the danger that those of us who have been forced so long to stand amid the tragic midnight of oppression- those of us who have been trampled over, those of us who have been kicked about – there is the danger that we will become bitter. 

But if we become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns, the new order, which is emerging will be nothing but a duplication of the old order.”

The political wind which blew over Alabama politics in 2010 changed a landscape that had been in existence for many years.

Super majorities in both houses of the legislature make it impossible for former power brokers to engage in business as usual. They now have to operate under new paradigms, forming new coalitions on county and city levels. This is not the end of things if those coalitions work for the good of all citizens.

The ubiquitous spirit of all of the people who made jubilee a success should be infectious enough to cause each of us to see our disappointments and setbacks in life as merely one more river to cross.

Walk on children.

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