Letters for March 20

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 21, 2005

To the editor:

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee was extraordinary. The efforts of a small team of extra ordinary people lead the way, but coming down the final stretch, scores of people, young and old, black, white, brown and yellow, famous and unknown, gave enormously and helped to make the four-day event a monumental success.

On behalf of the National Voting Rights Museum, I thank you.

Thank you to our sponsors and other contributors. Funding doesn’t always come at the time we think we need it, but this year it was right on time.

Thank you to Alabama Power, NASCAR, Wallace Community College, Coca-Cola, Honda, Atlanta Gas and Light, United Parcel Service (UPS), The Boston Democracy Project Anheuser Busch, and L’Oreal for your generous financial contributions and product donations.

A few gave much more, but it was the collective response to our call for help that fueled our engine of success.

There are several women that I must mention. Bennie Ivey, Director of the Center of Democratic Renewal knows how to help a sister.

God has endowed me with many talents – fundraising is not one of them.

Bennie had the good insight to introduce me to Sonjia Young, veteran event planner from Atlanta, who helped us to navigate our first star-studded event, the Freedom Flame Awards. While holding down a full time job, Tarana Burke worked alongside celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch and movie producer Belinda Marment to bring starlight to the Jubilee. Vivica Fox, who came to Selma specifically to be a part of this historic event, was the talk of the town.

Veteran Hip-Hop star Chuck D of Public Enemy paid a surprise visit and delivered a powerful message to for youth and elders at the hip-hop summit.

Legendary actor/entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte was an inspiration. Susan Taylor, Editorial Director of Essence Magazine, was the spirit while others like Jessie and Jackie Jackson, Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney and Maxine Waters, and Ambassador Andrew Young were the motivators.

Behind the scenes, Paul Gillis, an aide to republican Senator George Allen

offered to help, admittedly, I was skeptical. He was equally determined. Four weeks before the Jubilee, the Museum did not have enough money to defray the cost of the 40th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery March. We were not swayed and continue to execute our plans using the resources (and credit) of volunteers and staff.

Three weeks out, Paul delivered.

I was humbled and forced to rethink my tendency to judge people based on their politics and affiliations.

Thank you Paul and Sen. Allen.

I must also thank Senator Hank Sanders, my partner in marriage and struggle. He always comes through even when the odds seem overwhelming and he did again.

This year the Jubilee extended past the usual weekend because of the 40th anniversary.

Throughout the week there were activities surrounding the re-enactment of the march. Superintendent Carter and Lynn Henderson spearheaded our education forum on Monday afternoon.

The event was well attended by a host of teachers, administrators and other superintendents.

It may have been the most significant event of Jubilee 2005.

Dr. Asa Hillard and Professor B provided information that can transform failing schools into excellent institutions within two years.

Awesome!

Every year Representative Maxine Waters, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, The SNCC Freedom Singers, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. James Orange, and Dr. Joseph and Mrs. Evelyn Lowery join thousands for a “pilgrimage” to Selma.

We thank them.

I want to be sure to thank anyone who assisted in anyway, but certainly I would like to thank the volunteers and coordinators who worked night and day as coordinators of major events, including:

Attorney Collins Pettway, for the mass meeting; for the Children’s Sojourn, Ms. Jubilee Pageant and Jubilee Stepshow, Felecia Pettway and Lorraine Capers; Invisible Giants Conference (Men’s and Women’s), Lynda Lowery, Erica Henry, Michele Alexandre, Chantay Smith, Cliff Albright, April England; Mock Trial, Jeffery Robinson; Parade, Ola Marrow; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Festival, Sam Walker, Joanne Bland (Vendors), Tarana Burke; Freedom Flame Awards, Malika Sanders, Tarana Burke; Women’s Room Induction, Erica Henry; Invisible Giants Brunch, Sister Circle, Sunday Reception, Josephine Curtis; Intergenerational Hip-Hop Summit, Kevin Peterson (Democracy Project of Boston); Michael London, Malika Sanders, Cliff Albright, Tarana Burke; Publicity, Lynn Henderson,Randy Williams; Media Center, Michael London; Slow Ride; Sen. Hank Sanders, Rita Lett; Essay/Poster Contest, Althestine Johnson; Teacher’s Reunion, Lawrence and Mrs. Huggins; Bridge Ceremony, Evelyn Lowery/S.C.L.C. Women.

Most all of these events required the diligent assistance of the coordinator and staff. The real leadership came from a team of four people that included Sam Walker, Joanne Bland, Tarana Burke and myself. Rose Hill, thank you for taking on the tremendous task of bookkeeping for the Jubilee.

Chantay Smith served as the sole administrative staff person at the Museum responsible for Jubilee and did a tremendous job with the assistance of Afreye We-Kandodis, again thank you.

We would also like to thank the local media for excellent coverage, especially the Selma Times-Journal and Z105.3.

We thank the inmates from the Dallas County Jail for beautifying the Memorial Park.

We thank the Selma Police department for their security and presence.

We thank Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders, Pettway and Campbell law firm for use of their office, staff and other resources.

Thank you to the Charles Steele, Brenda Davenport, Rev. Orange and the entire S.C.L.C. for your continued support year in and year out. We could not have an event with out your assistance.

I’m sure there are people and institutions that contributed in ways that I don’t know. But God knows who you are and what you did. Thank you.

The Jubilee attracted more people to Selma than any other event in the city.

It has the potential to create a Selma Renaissance. Students from all over the country are coming to spend their spring break in Selma next year. We are already planning Jubilee 2006. Ambassador Andrew Young, actress Meg Ryan, and supermodel Iman have already expressed interest in participating. Without the participation of volunteers, however, we cannot achieve our goals for Selma and the Musuem.

Consequently, we are asking you to get on the train to the Selma Renaissance now.

Faya Rose Toure