Jubilee 2008 expected to draw record crowd

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2008


The celebration comes early this year, and then again this summer.

This year&8217;s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee expects to draw a record crowd. It features Grammy Award winners, prominent celebrities and civil rights activists.

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Organizers said Friday this year has three opportunities to celebrate: the Alabama Presidential Primary, Jubilee itself, and the municipal election later this summer.

This year&8217;s theme &8220;One Mic, One Movement,&8221; reflects the mission of the National Voting Rights Museum to bridge the gap between civil rights and hip-hop generations, organizers said.

Grammy Award winning duo OutKast, Sean &8220;Ditty&8221; Combs and Russell Simmons are headlining this year&8217;s event, Dr. Cornell West is expected to host a Town Hall meeting March 7 entitled &8220;Selma, Jena and Beyond.&8221;

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee was conceived 15 years ago to educate, inspire and commemorate the nonviolent movement in American history. The four-day event is set for March 6-9, and consists of 22 events. Each year vendors line Water Avenue with food, arts and crafts, souvenirs and memorabilia.

The Jubilee kicks off with a Mass Meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church on March 7, the site of the first mass meeting in 1963, when the late Rev. L.L. Anderson made his church available. It became headquarters to the Selma movement until it was moved to Brown Chapel A.M.E. for security reasons.

Jubilee climaxes on March 9 with a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which became a national fixture on March 7, 1965, where peaceful demonstrators were beaten and gassed. The images were televised and captured the attention of the nation.

A parade is planned, and music has become a large part of the Jubilee. An all-day street concert boasts OutKast, Bobby Blue Bland, Jennifer Holiday, rappers Master P and Bow Wow. There&8217;s also a step show and story telling.

The Freedom Flame Awards Banquet honorees this year are Wyatt T. Walker, Walter Fountroy, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Dorothy Tillman, Sean &8220;Ditty&8221; Combs, Russell Simmons, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Steele. Previous honorees include the late Coretta Scott King, the Rev James Orange, actor Harry Belafonte,&8217; U.S. Rep John Lewis, Bernard Lafayette, Chuck D and Andrew Young.

Dr. West, noted author and historian, will address common issues of economic, educational and political empowerment.