Two Selma women to be honored at celebration

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The work of the Rev. Martin Luther King will be remembered during a celebration in his honor Sunday.

The Freedom Foundation will hold the third annual King Community Celebration at 6 p.m. at Pickard Auditorium.

During the night, Annie Cooper and Jean Martin will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to Selma.

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Cooper, 97, helped bring national attention to the fight for voting rights in 1965 when she stepped out of a voter registration line and punched then-Sheriff James Clark in the face. A photo and story about her physical confrontation with Clark and three deputies ran in the New York Times.

“Dr. King said, ‘Don’t let the dream die,’ and I’m not letting the dream die,” Cooper said. “After 40 years, people are still thinking about it. A lot of people recognize what I’ve done. It’s still in their minds, and they haven’t forgotten it, and for that I’m thankful.”

Martin, 85, a former member of the city council, is now curator of the Selma-Dallas County Museum of Interpretive History (Old Depot) and works with various community groups.

“Selma is my home, and I love it,” Martin said. “I came back by choice, and I stayed by choice. I have many friends from every area and every neighborhood, and that makes Selma a great town.”

Freedom Foundation Chairwoman Shawn Samuelson said the board of directors took several nominations and chose to honor the most outstanding community servants.

“It’s great to recognize Dr. King and what he’s done, but we wanted to take it to a community level,” she said. “We decided to recognize people who contribute on a daily basis.”

Last year’s honorees were Lorraine Capers, Margaret Hardy and Mike Reynolds.

“It is an honor to host this tribute to Dr. King and to honor his vision. We have worked hard to bring a variety of people from the community together to be a part of the program. We want to provide a special night for the entire community to celebrate, recognize and appreciate the work that Dr. King did during his life, as well as the work that continues in our community today,” Mark Duke, Freedom Foundation president, said in a statement.

Tickets must be bought in advance and are available by calling 375-3606.