NLC is positive despite turnout

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The final National League of Cities meeting was held at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center Wednesday, ending three days of public discussions to gain input from residents about the Selma Initiative report.

The final meeting had the lowest turnout of the three. There were approximately 30 people who attended the meeting, which was held in the same manner as the previous two.

Four members from the NLC discussed what they learned about Selma from various surveys and group discussions involving elected officials, average citizens, religious leaders, and high school students.

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“The City of Selma has been a member of the organization for a number of years and we, as an organization, have had a good working relationship with the local government,” said NLC member Gwen Wright.

Wright said the purpose of the NLC’s Selma Initiative Report was to provide support in the improvement of the city’s race relations, economic development, and education.

The NLC’s work came at no cost to the city.

“What the NLC wants from this report is a commitment from (residents) to become more involved in Selma,” Wright said. “We want everyone to work

together to achieve success.”

The NLC will not share their findings on Selma with other cities and organizations, Wright said, until its members had heard from the community about their thoughts on the report.

“Our job is not to dictate or say what Selma needs to do,” Wright said. “We did this to identify resources and offer help to ensure success in what the city is already doing.”

A few members of the local community were given an opportunity to ask questions and express their personal feelings on the report.

Ann King was one of the first to speak during the meeting and said change in Selma would come about not only through politicians, but through grassroots organizations and parent involvement.

“Children listen to what their parents say,” King said. “I think its time for parents to start listening to what their kids have to say.”

Local attorney Faya Rose Toure agreed with King, saying grassroots organizations are often ignored.

“I think its time for Selma to move on and stop blaming me and the mayor,” Toure said.

Her sentiments were shared with other people who stood to make comments, with the majority of them saying it was time for Selma to forgive and focus on the future.

“Now that we’ve had a chance to hear from you, we are going to take this information back to Washington, D.C. and reread our report,” Wright told the audience. “We plan to put together a supplemental report to go along with this one.”

Wright said the past three days of meeting had been a success, and the NLC members learned a lot from listening to residents.

“I was very impressed with the honesty of the people,” Wright said. “I was also impressed with the support we received. I’m excited about moving Selma forward.”

Wright said the NLC may likely return to Selma in the fall with their supplemental report and help elected officials come up with “concrete plans” to change Selma’s outlook on the future.