Freedom Ride to mark 42nd anniversary of Voting Rights Act

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

On Aug. 4, two days before the 42nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, cyclists of all levels will travel the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in the name of fitness and freedom.

Selma to Montgomery Freedom Ride 2007, now in its second year, aims “to offer the public superior recreational opportunities where visitors have fun, explore nature and history, find inspiration and improve health and wellness.”

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Selma-Dallas County Sweetheart Fitness, LLC, the Freedom Foundation, the City of Selma, Dallas County, Lowndes County and Chain Reaction of Prattville are the event’s organizers.

Tina Smiley, director of Selma-Dallas County Sweetheart Fitness and a National Park Service ranger, said the 44-mile bike ride is set for Saturday, Aug. 4 at 6 a.m. at the Lowndes County Interpretive Center in White Hall, located at 7002 U.S. Hwy. 80 W. Patterned after bike rides in Washington D.C., the Freedom Ride highlights key locations along the historic trail. Cyclists will travel the route westbound to Selma, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on to Brown Chapel AME Church and back to the Lowndes County Interpretive Center. Support vehicles will trail cyclists along the route.

“(The vehicles) will accompany the riders if they aren’t able to finish,” said Smiley, adding the bike is ideal for advanced and novice riders.

Smiley went on to credit the Freedom Foundation, who will provide volunteers for the event. Shawn Samuelson, chair of the Freedom Foundation board, said the organization is “happy to help support groups that are doing positive things.”

Mark Duke, Freedom Foundation president, agreed. “It’s another something that can bring people together from both sides of the neighborhood,” he said.

Smiley said pre-registration is required and participants must be 18-years-old or older on the day of the bike ride. The pre-registration fee is $25. Proceeds will be used to set up awards and scholarships for area students.

Event brochures will soon be available at Selma City Hall, the Dallas County Centre for Commerce, Calhoun Foods, CyberBlue Internet Caf&, Chain Reaction in Prattville and Cycle Escape in Montgomery.

For more information, contact Smiley at (334) 877-1984.