By Brandon Glover and Daniel Spears

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Demopolis Times

Youth from across the country showed their interest in the upcoming presidential election and in commemorating the civil rights struggle of 42 years ago by descending on Selma to catch a glimpse of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

This year’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee, held to commemorate the events of Sunday, March 7, 1965 in which marchers in the civil rights campaign were brutally attacked and beaten by Alabama State Troopers, draws thousands of visitors from across the nation and Sunday’s event was no different.

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Add to the event the presence of a former president and the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for President and you have an even bigger event.

Kristin Bomer, 17, of Birmingham, said her interest in politics and current events drew her to the civil rights struggle commemoration.

“This is the first time my parents have allowed me to come to a political event,” Bomer said. “I love politics and current events and I get to vote in the next election, so I thought it would be good to come and support the candidates.”

Bomer said she supports Obama’s bid for the presidency. She also said she would prefer he run for vice president rather than president due to the lack of experience he has had in national politics.

“He has only served one term as a senator, but I will vote for him if he wins the Democratic Party convention,” Bomer said.

Jill Letts, a 21-year-old college student from Atlanta sporting a red “Barack ‘N Roll” T-shirt, said she feels the lack of political experience wouldn’t hurt his credibility. She said his lack of experience should be construed as an asset for Obama.

“I am ready for a change, and I think he will bring a change,” Letts said. “The freshness he brings is something I feel we need.”

Clay McInnis, a 19-year-old Auburn University student, said Sunday was his first political event and he came to hear Obama’s speech at Brown Chapel A.M.E., showing his support for Obama.

“I am here for Obama and to march across the bridge,” said 12-year-old Lantz Lipham. “I don’t think I have ever known an African American who has gotten as far as Obama has.”

Tinchinsa Hausaman, 13, from Louisiana, said the main draw to the event for her was the actual civil rights and black history portion of the Jubilee.

She said the race and gender issues of the upcoming Democratic primary and presidential race tie in well to the civil rights movement honored by Sunday’s event.

“I decided to come to college in the South because of the regional differences, like the civil rights being a large part of the culture down here,” said Meredith Baku, who is a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Alabama. “I came for the civil rights aspect of this day, I don’t think it is a good platform for politicking, especially for Hillary Clinton. It is obvious she is here pursing the black vote.”

Baku said she thought the speeches by both candidates tended to overshadow the reason behind the event.