NVRMI throwing Voting Rights Act birthday bash

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 30, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute is commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by throwing a birthday bash.

The celebration will be held at Songs of Selma Park, at the corner of Broad Street and Water Ave., on Monday, Aug. 6 at 4 p.m.

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Faya Rose Toure, NVRMI president, said the celebration’s focus is on children, and teaching them the importance of the landmark legislation.

“Forty-two years ago not a single child was alive, so we have people 42 years removed from the struggle,” she said. “(The celebration) gives us an opportunity to remind people of the value of the right to vote and the struggle it took to achieve it.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act on Aug. 6, 1965, fueled by the events of March 7, 1965, when state troopers attacked peaceful marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

Toure said children who attend the celebration are encouraged to sign a ballot of commitment to vote.

By signing the commitment, a child pledges to register to vote upon turning 18-years-old, to vote in every election once he or she is registered and to be a lifelong voter.

“I further pledge to always remember that someone prayed for me, someone marched for me and someone died for me … and they didn’t even know my name,” the commitment states.

“(The commitment) uses the past as a bridge to the future and the children are our future,” Toure said. “They will determine the future Selma, the state of Alabama and the nation will have.”

A prize drawing will be held for the first 100 students who make a commitment to vote.

“We’ll be giving $42 prizes and other small prizes,” Toure said.

The celebration will also feature the inaugural performance of the Selma Renaissance Children’s Choir, and a re-enactment of the Voting Rights Act signing, starring Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Selma historian Alston Fitts as President Johnson and Attorney J.L. Chestnut.

Toure added the NVRMI is asking the public to support the construction of a new multi-million dollar museum that “will chronicle the voting rights movement in Selma and the continuous struggle for the right to vote.” The museum’s proposed location is across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from downtown.

Toure presented preliminary artistic renderings of the museum to the Selma City Council last week. The presentation prompted the council in a 6-3 vote to deny a liquor license to owners of The Red Room, an entertainment center and nightspot located near the proposed site.