Davis speaks to Leadership Selma class

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Columbiana – U.S. Congressman Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, told a group of local residents Saturday that they could be instruments of change in the community.

Davis will hold a town hall meeting in Selma on Aug. 21,

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from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

The congressman addressed the 25 members of Leadership Selma-Dallas County Class 13 during a weekend retreat, held at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana, encouraging participants to translate their civic mindedness into making a change in the community.

He gave the group his definition of imagination. “Taking what you know and figuring out how to stretch it,” he said.

Those who make their home in Selma and Dallas County, have the talent and abilities to bring about the needed change, he said.

Davis named education and healthcare as areas where progress can also affect economic growth.

Speaking of education, he said the community must find ways to bring black and white students together during those formative years.

While adults of diverse backgrounds now sit on committees and on boards together, Davis said we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking we’ve solved the problem of integration.

He said improving public education was one change that must take place. “Quality should not be a deterrent” in a parent choosing to send their child to public school, he said.

Davis addressed some of the ways change can take place, including through communication. Despite the fact that we live in the information age, with access to cell phones, the Internet and other instant messaging modes of communication, we haven’t improved our ability to communicate. “We have more methods of communication, but we don’t listen,” he said.

Davis talked about how many changes he’s already seen in the Black Belt during his seven years in Congress. When he first campaigned for office, he had to hold two town meetings in many of the cities and towns in the Black Belt – one in which black residents would attend, one that white residents would attend.

“Now when we hold a town hall meeting, it’s pretty much split 50-50,” he said.

Davis took some questions from the participants, including one about progress on the plan for the

I-85 corridor.

Davis said the plan would cost more than a billion dollars, and so far only $100 million has been allocated by the federal government toward the project. Completing the four-laning of U.S. Highway 80 is a much more feasible plan, he said.