Civic leaders mourn passing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Civic and community leaders joined together to mourn the passing of civil rights giant Marie Foster, who died Saturday.

Selma City Councilwoman Jean Martin said, &uot;Mrs. Foster was an icon in civil rights. The number of icons in Selma is decreasing and those are losses.&uot;

As a longtime veteran of the civil rights movement, Foster was a &uot;walking, living, breathing history of the movement,&uot; said Martin.

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Known as &uot;Mother Foster&uot; to almost everyone who knew her, Marie Foster was widely esteemed as a caring, loving individual.

Having lived a life honored by presidents, she was remembered for her ability to nurture close personal relationships with the common people.

Joanne Bland, tour director of the National Voting Rights Institute and Museum, said, &uot;I loved her so much. I think everybody called her ‘mother.’&uot;

Foster was considered by many to be the mother of the civil rights movement in Selma. While Dr. Martin Luther King stayed in Selma, he slept in her home. She even made breakfast for him.

Bland described Foster’s death as a tremendous loss for Selma and the modern civil rights movement. &uot;She just loved Selma,&uot; said Bland.

Bland was 11-years-old during the March 7, 1965, March known as &uot;Bloody Sunday.&uot;

Foster was beaten until her knees were swollen. &uot;She still walked every step of the way from Selma to Montgomery,&uot; said Bland.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. said, &uot;Even in her old age, she could still out-work the young activists of today. The death of Marie Foster leaves an irreplaceable void within our community.&uot;

Bland remembers numerous occasions when she called Foster for advice. &uot;She’s done it, all these years, she’s done the same thing. Her knowledge will be sorely missed,&uot; said Bland.

Dallas County Probate Judge Johnny Jones said, &uot;I know she was very integral in the civil rights movement and its inception. I’m sure the loss will leave a void that is difficult to fill.&uot;

For many Selma residents, Foster was a reminder of those times and what they meant to people. &uot;A whole library is gone,&uot; said Bland.

Added Martin, &uot;She must have had a thousand memories of those times.&uot;

Martin summed up her feelings about Foster by saying, &uot;The nicest thing I can say about people is they made a difference. She made a difference.&uot;