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Final plans being made for Jubilee

Organizers for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee are making the connection from past to present with one number: 44.

The significance of the 44th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the election of the 44th president of the United States has not gone unnoticed.

When choosing the theme “The Bridge to the White House” for this year’s celebration, the Jubilee planning committee counted the confrontation between marchers and police in 1965 as a crucial stepping stone for the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black head of state.

“We believe that the things that happened 44 years ago on the Edmund Pettus Bridge here in Selma (affected) what happened on Jan. 20, 2009, in Washington D.C.,” said Sam Walker, director of the National Voting Rights Museum.

The museum sponsors the Jubilee in conjunction with the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

There are 27 events scheduled for this year’s Jubilee, which runs from March 5-8. Obama attended the event in 2007.

This year invited guests include the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, comedian and activist Dick Gregory and CNN personality and radio host Roland Martin. Eric Holder, Obama’s selection for U.S. Attorney General, has been invited to the Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta S. King Unity Breakfast Sunday at Wallace Community College-Selma.

Organizers have already confirmed the appearances of blues artist Marvin C. and jazz artist Nneena Freelon among several other acts.

Meetings are scheduled each Monday to complete planning for events.

The Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel named the Jubilee one of the top 10 things to do in Alabama this year.

The economy is having an effect on this year’s event, but that’s not stopping progress.

“The museum faces great financial challenges,” jubilee coordinator and museum president Rose Sanders said in a statement, “but we will not be deferred from celebrating this more than coincidental 44th anniversary.”

Walker said he noticed more enthusiasm has gone into Jubilee work this year.

“We’ve gotten a lot more phone calls and excitement since the inauguration,” he said. “I think because Selma was nationally shown during the inauguration, there’s been a lot of people coming to Selma. There’s a lot of national interest.”