Jubilee kicks off with town hall

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2003

The rain fell heavily on the campus of Concordia College, but didn’t drown out the sounds of &uot;We Shall Overcome.&uot;

The hymn was sung by youth from South Africa who had come to Selma for the Jubilee Festival. Afterward, attorney Faya Ora Toure stood on stage, microphone in hand.

The crowd echoed every word.

So began the Mass Meeting Tribute, one of the kick-off events to Jubilee 2003.

Ed Gordon, a personality from Black Entertainment Television Tonight, and moderator of the meeting’s five-member panel, took to the podium once the music faded.

People tended to romanticize the 1960’s, Gordon said, mainly recognizing the most famous of names: Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, for instance.

Gordon spurred the crowd on as he urged audience members to &uot;make some noise&uot; if they knew what affirmative action was, a program the Supreme Court was looking at altering it, he informed the crowd. Affirmative action wasn’t about putting blacks into jobs; it was about giving opportunity to people, Gordon said.

Ron Daniels, a panel member and executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the 1965 crossing of the Edmund-Pettus Bridge wasn’t just a defining moment for black history, but also for American history.

People can affect change through economic sanctions and boycotts, &uot;but you can’t walk away from the ballot,&uot; Daniels said.

Selma mayor and panel member James Perkins Jr. said that a political disconnect

during the 2002 mid-term elections was caused by timid leadership not willing to address the important issues.

Civil rights attorney April England Albright, following the theme of political disconnect among blacks, said that people weren’t fooled by promises from candidates or those supporting them.

Gordon asked Selwyn Carter, national representative for the AFL-CIO, if the game of politics was being played correctly by blacks.

Many people don’t bother to vote because they don’t believe they’ll get anything in return, Carter said. By not voting, though, blacks were allowing other people to spend their money, he added.

Senator Hank Sanders, D-Selma, in response to a question about why youth should participate in politics, said that politics pervades every aspect of our lives from birth to death.