Foster Street Film Festival combats violence

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

It was billed as the Marie Foster Street Film Festival, and it’s the kind of community involvement project that the late civil rights icon would have loved.

More than 50 citizens &045; adults and young people &045; gathered Tuesday on the sidewalk outside Tabernacle Baptist Church to try and find a solution to the problem of violent crime in Selma.

They viewed the film &uot;Bowling for Columbine,&uot; a documentary on violence; established a community tribunal; and signed up 10 young men who agreed to act as street mediators.

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The Rev. Rodney Morton, Tabernacle’s pastor, noted that it was somehow appropriate that the festival took place on the grounds of the venerable church which hosted the city’s first mass meeting in the 1960s.

Said Morton, &uot;Again, Tabernacle will take center stage in a movement to end violence in our city.&uot;

Barbara Brown was also on hand to say a few words. Brown lost both her sons, Brandon and Horace, to violence. Neither murder has been solved. She noted that Selma has had eight murders thus far this year.

The idea behind the street mediators is simple.

The 10 young men who signed up will be trained in conflict resolution and leadership, according to Rose Toure. They will receive job skills and salesmanship training, as well as assistance in securing education and jobs. They will also receive a small stipend as an incentive to persevere.

The community tribunal, which consists of seven adults, is intended to resolve disputes when street mediators need assistance.

The details of exactly how the street mediators and tribunal will operate are sketchy at this time, but Brown said she is encouraged that members of the community have come together in an effort to address what they see as a growing problem. &uot;You’ve got to do something,&uot; Brown said. &uot;You can’t just sit back and allow murder to take place. We need to do something.&uot;

Marie Foster, affectionately known as &uot;Mother Foster,&uot; was honored during her lifetime both for her efforts in getting blacks in Dallas County registered to vote and for her work with young people.

She even established the Coretta Scott King Learning Center, a neighborhood gathering place, next to her home.

Foster died earlier this year. Her children expressed their appreciation for this effort in their mother’s memory.

The next street rally will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of Ebenezer Baptist Church.