Leadership becomes important trait now

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 18, 2002

The 50 or so people who listened to Mayor James Perkins Jr. talk about truth and reconciliation Thursday night won’t be able to change Selma on their own.

Perkins, who has called such meetings in the past, won’t be able to change Selma by himself, either.

That, however, should not take away from the efforts of our mayor and members of the community who are concerned about the social unrest in Selma right now.

Perkins, whether you like him or not, has taken a higher road in the latest events to garner racial strife in this city. By his own accounts, Perkins said he is discouraging picketing in front of City Hall. At the same time, Perkins has stood fast by his displeasure of a recent fire department appointment.

Some might consider that “sitting on the fence.” Others, who we feel are correct, would view Perkins’ latest actions as a breath of fresh air.

In most elections, candidates are elected based on what they say rather than what they will do. When Perkins was elected mayor of Selma, he had not proven to this community that he had the ability to lead a city of such conflict.

While Perkins, like any other politician, has made blunders in the past, he is fast becoming a leader in our city because of his actions in the past week.

What Selma needs, more than anything, is an open avenue of communication. State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, made that point many months ago when he hosted a meeting designed solely to begin communication.

With political elections being contested, it appears much of that communication has passed. Thankfully, Perkins is carrying the torch.

The people who bemoan this city are not looking for an avenue of communication. Those who believe the bemoaners are ruining this city have not searched for a way to communicate, either.

Rather, Perkins seems to be the only one leading the way for this city — and we should all be grateful for that.

Over the past few months, Perkins has discovered the importance of bringing new jobs and a better lifestyle to Selma. He has learned that squaring off in public rarely accomplishes that goal.

A truth and reconciliation meeting won’t change our community. But as more people follow the leadership of Perkins and those who joined him at that meeting, our city will begin to grow — and change.