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Jubilee named one of top events in Alabama

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee was named one of the Top 10 Events of 2009 by the Alabama Tourism Department.

The list is part of the Year of Alabama History, which Gov. Bob Riley kicked off Dec. 12 at the State Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. The Year of Alabama History coincides with the 189th birthday celebration of Alabama’s statehood.

Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell said these events are not only part of Alabama’s history, but the nation’s, too.

“When we select the top 10 events for the year, we focus on those things unique to our state and that would be of interest to national and international media,” he said.

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee from March 5-9 is sponsored by the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute, 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee commemorates “Bloody Sunday” and the Selma to Montgomery March for voting rights, which took place in 1965.

The event includes a parade, pageant, symposiums, blues, hip-hop and gospel music and the Voting Rights Hall of Fame induction.

“I think it’s very exciting,” said Candace Johnson, Selma-Dallas County director of tourism. “We are very privileged to have history right here in our backyard.”

Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce President Lauri Cothran said The Bridge Crossing Jubilee has a huge impact on the local economy. People eat, shop and stay in Selma on the first weekend of March. She said recognition by the state tourism department would only increase the event’s impact.

“When you add in the recognition from the state, that brings in extra attention,” she said.

Mayor George Evans also said he is proud of the recognition.

“It think it’s a huge honor to be recognized,” Evans said. “It just lets everybody know that we have a gold mine right here in Selma.”

Sam Walker, a consultant for the National Voting Rights Museum, said the recognition of the Jubilee is important for Selma and the state.

“The Jubilee was created to celebrate the history of the struggle,” Walker said. “The fact that the event has been recognized is very important.”

Walker said the museum is still in discussions with guests for the event. Past guests include President-elect Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton, now a nominee for secretary of state.