Panelists talk living history

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008


As it were in the 1960s, children were a big part of Selma&8217;s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Dr. Samuel Lett, who took part in civil rights demonstrations as a youth, said Monday from the same edifice God chose Selma for a reason. He said he was speaking to the young people.

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Lett was part of a panel discussion with Charles Mauldin, Roosevelt Goldsby, John Rankin and Joseph T. Smitherman, who as a teen shared the same name as Selma&8217;s mayor at the time.

Smitherman said he was a student at R.B. Hudson High School. He recalled the misfortune of being the mayor&8217;s namesake.

Rankin said he was on the back of a flatbed truck returning to Selma following the march when they saw Viola Liuzzo&8217;s car on the side of the road. Liuzzo, a white woman from Detroit, Mich., was shot and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen in Lowndes County as she transported marchers back to Selma from Montgomery on March 25, 1965.

Mauldin recalled being 17 at the time, and was a student organizer. He spoke of being in meetings with Dr. King, the Rev. Dr. F.D. Reese and the late Rev. L.L. Anderson, who was the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist.

The Freedom Foundation&8217;s annual celebration of Dr. King&8217;s legacy Sunday night featured uplifting song and expressions.

A multicultural event, students from public and private schools joined together on stage in what the organization&8217;s founder called realization of King&8217;s dream.