Toure issues challenge for Defiant Run

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

A kinder, gentler Rose?

Believe it, says Faya Rose Toure.

Selma’s fiery civil rights activist insists she has mellowed in recent years. And she’s issuing a challenge for anyone who doesn’t believe her.

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Toure, who instituted the infamous &uot;Joe gotta go&uot; campaign in the 2000 mayoral election. Who once staged a sit-in at City Hall. And who played an instrumental role in consigning Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest to the nether regions of Old Live Oak Cemetery.

And while she has never been one to concern herself overly much with public opinion, Toure says she is bothered by people who have never met her but who nevertheless hold strong negative opinions about her.

So she is issuing a public challenge to anyone in the community who is willing to put their beliefs &045; and possibly even their prejudices &045; to the test to walk together with her, shackled, in Saturday’s Defiant Run. The run is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at Selma Mall.

Toure is a strong supporter of The Defiant Run, which is being organized by Frank Hardy, founder and executive director of the Selma Youth Development Center, and an ad hoc committee.

The purpose of the half -marathon, which will tether whites and blacks together over a 13.1-mile downtown course, is to promote racial unity and reconciliation, as well as diversity and healing in the community, and to create a more positive image for

Selma, according to organizers.

Toure, an activist for civil rights and voting rights admits that because of her forthright stands on behalf of African- Americans and other oppressed peoples over the years that she’s made a few enemies.

But now she’s at the point of believing it’s time to begin an honest and sincere dialogue about race in Selma, &uot;in order to garner the collective resources to better Selma for our children and grandchildren,&uot; as she put it.

Toure first made the offer to walk with an enemy at last week’s press conference called to issue an appeal from a coalition of local organizations to the community to combat violence in Selma.

On Monday a prayer breakfast sponsored by First Presbyterian Church was held at the church.

Hardy described it as a gathering of persons truly committed to the goals of the marathon and its success. First Presbyterian

has been a strong financial backer of the Selma Youth Development Center for many years.

In an interview after the event, Hardy continued to appeal to Selma leaders to support the run and to see in it the possibility of moving the city forward at a time of great opportunity for better race relations.

A pep rally in support of The Defiant Run will be held on Friday at the Performing Arts Center, beginning at 6 p.m., according to organizer Frank Hardy.

The general public is invited, with special attention to public and private schools and church youth groups. Hardy is also extending an invitation to city officials to be present in support of The Defiant Run.

Among others, the Selma Youth Development Center performing group will offer dance, music and other forms of entertainment.

Rachel Reuter, a third-year medical student at the University of Minnesota is coming back to Selma, at her own expense, to participate in Saturday’s Defiant Run.

She will run with organizer Frank Hardy.

Reuter resided in Selma 2000-01 as an Edmundite Corps Volunteer Worker, assigned both to Selma Youth Development Center and the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center.

Reuter, who says she loves Selma, ran a marathon race with Hardy in May 2001 during her year of volunteer service &045; the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.

She had told Hardy that if he were able to get The Defiant Run organized she would definitely be present. &uot;I want to run to help bring races and people together,&uot; she said.