Happy birthday

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2007

Celebration set for 42nd anniversary of Voting Rights Act



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A birthday celebration is set for today, marking the 42nd anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The late President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on Aug. 6, 1965, directly as a result of what happened in Selma several months earlier on Bloody Sunday.

The party is taking place near the site organizers say is the &8220;birthplace of equality.&8221;

The National Voting Rights Museum & Institute (NVRM) has scheduled the celebration, complete with birthday cake, at the Songs of Selma Park, located on Water Avenue at the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge. A trailer for a film that began production in Selma in February by an Atlanta-based company is set for a previewed at the St. James Hotel, following the party.

Songs of Selma Park is located at the corner of Broad Street and Water Ave., and the celebration begins at 4 p.m. Faya Rose Toure, NVRM president, said the celebration’s focus is on children, and teaching the importance of the landmark legislation.

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

Jim Brown and his wife, executive producer Genise Brown, said “Passing the Torch” tells the story of Selma’s courageous youth during the voting rights movement of the 1960s.

“This is the other side of the story because we know about the major players already and their contributions,” Genise said, citing the movement wasn’t solely influenced by “the Martin Luther Kings and the John Lewises.”

Based in Atlanta, Gateway Educational Films used extras

&045; mostly children &045; for filming around Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church and George Washington Carver Homes. The docudrama is directed by Larry Gilbert and co-produced by Godfrey King, who is director of the performing arts department at Wallace Community College Selma.

“We’re trying to show that the kids crossed that bridge,” Jim Brown said. “The kids got little credit for what they did.”

He said in February that “Passing the Torch” is likely to be released just before the 42nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The film features Selma notables such as attorney J.L. Chestnut Jr., educator and author Amelia Boynton, professor, SNCC member Bernard Lafayette, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., minister and NVRM Board Chair the Rev. C.T. Vivian, Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr., and Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford.