Thanks for making Jubilee a success

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2007

To the Editor:

Thank you. There are no better words to express our deep gratitude to the participants and supporters of the 42nd Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery March.

Jubilee 2007 got off to a slow start but ended with a bang! Twenty-four excellent events over a five-day time period were achieved through extraordinary team effort. Most of the events were chaired or coordinated by a local organization. The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute has an annual budget of less than $100,000. It does not have the staff or the resources for the magnitude of work required for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. Without the committed work of volunteers and local organizations, we could not achieve the pinnacle of excellence achieved year after year.

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This year’s Jubilee made national and international news due to the brilliant presence of Senator Obama, Senator Clinton and President Bill Clinton.

It was also the 50th Anniversary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.), the organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Dr. Joseph Lowery. Both Shuttlesworth and Lowery were present at this year’s Jubilee along with current President Charles Steele, who has rekindled the spirit and work of SCLC.

The spirit of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King permeated every event. Their spirit inspired Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, 21st Century Youth Leadership, Grassroots Democracy Commission and Alabama New South Coalition to take leadership and action. The in-kind and financial contributions of Wallace Community College Selma, Alabama Power and Greene Track oiled the wheels of success, supplemented by the generosity of the AKAs who hosted the Martin and Coretta King’s Beloved Unity Breakfast. Senator Obama was clearly impressed by the dcor and the large crowd that welcomed him like a prodigal son.

The Freedom Flame Award’s celebration greatly exceeded the expectation of nominee, Congressman John Lewis.

He was obviously amazed at the high quality of the event. This event, coordinated by Delta Sigma Theta, was also a fundraiser for the Museum. The contributions of Alabama state senators, however, allowed the Museum to give free admittance to foot soldiers and patients at the Selma Dialysis Center.

Felicia Pettway and Lorraine Capers organized the Jubilee pageant, children’s sojourn, and Stepping out on the Vote Step Show. All events were excellent in attendance and content. Collins Pettaway Jr. and Edna Bryant took charge of the mass meeting. Collins Pettaway Jr. and the Omega Psi Phi fraternity organized the parade and the battle of the bands with help from Senator Sanders, Khadijah and Ola Morrow. The Kappas headed up the golf tournament which promotes culture and diversity of the Jubilee. Both events get bigger and better each year.

High School students witnessed the awesome music and stories of the original Freedom Singers. Malika and Franklin Fortier, founders of the Grassroots Democracy project, organized this powerful event attended by area high school students. The low cost of the event was made possible by a grant from the Alabama State Arts Council and the Black Belt Foundation.

The mock trial did not have a television judge this year but the quality of the event was unsurpassed. Kindaka Sanders and April Albright organized the event. Judge John England, Vernetta Perkins and Robert Turner made the event an extraordinary learning experience. J.L. Chestnut Jr. and James Bevel were awesome witnesses because of awesome accounts of real events.

The truth is the Bridge Crossing Jubilee can awaken a source of spiritual, cultural and economic growth for Selma and the Black Belt if we recognize and remember the lessons of the past to Build New Bridges to New Beginnings.

We thank all of the countless people who walked without recognition or reward. Finally, I thank God for using Hank and I as vessels to coordinate the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. Every year I vow that I will never do it again. It’s a lot of hard work even with an army of volunteers.

Calhoun Foods donated and catered the reception for the Presidents of the S.C.L.C. We thank the City of Selma for security and cleanup. We thank the County Commissioners for cleaning up our memorial park and for its monetary support. We thank Charlotte Griffin and SCLC for trying to manage a march attended by three of the most famous people on the planet. The heart and core of the Jubilee work is the Museum family: Sam Walker, Joanne Bland, Tarana Burke, Chantae Moore, Afriye We-Kandodis, Rose Hill and Kimberly Smitherman. They worked day and night with only a promise of financial reward.

The Jubilee can be costly. Painters, artists and police securing fences are just a few examples, and without Senator Sanders and Dr. James Mitchell, we could not feature the host of events that make the Jubilee so special.

Faya Ora Rose Toure’