Celebration combines past, present and future

Published 7:55 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

Benson Webb sought a way to properly commemorate the election of Barack Obama.

In the process, it became clear the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. also deserved recognition.

From that came “A Day of Change Celebration,” an inclusive event to recognize the accomplishments of two of America’s most prominent black leaders.

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Webb and others hope the path laid by the Civil Rights Movement will lead beyond this year’s election and to a brighter future for the country.

“With the Edmund Pettus Bridge and all the history with that, this is something the City of Selma should do,” said Webb, the event’s organizer. “We had a part in making this even possible.”

The celebration is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 19 at the Old National Guard Armory, one day before Obama is to be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. No time has been set yet for the celebration in Selma.

Special presentations are planned for the day, and Webb said the only real goal the organizing committee has is to promote fellowship among members of Selma and its surrounding communities.

“This is not something we’re going to do every year,” Webb said. “It would be nice, but we’re not thinking that far ahead.”

Alabama, traditionally a Republican state, gave Obama 39 percent of its votes in the November presidential election.

However, local support for Obama was overwhelming. He took more than two thirds of the votes in Dallas County.

The Rev. L.L. Ruffin passionately expressed his elation at the former Illinois senator’s election.

“It’s the greatest thing that has happened to this country since the Model T Ford, and that’s putting it mildly,” said Ruffin, pastor of Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church. Ruffin said he endorsed the celebration because of its significance to both Selma and America. “This country has a Constitution, and we have yet to live up to its content. I think this is a giant step forward.”