Thank you for Jubilee, don’t forget next year

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank You. These two simple words contain an abundance of gratitude for every person and organization that contributed to the Bridge Crossing Jubilee 2009. Despite a shortage of resources, the Jubilee was a tremendous success. Thousands of people filled Water Avenue and side streets throughout the city. Every hotel was filled to capacity. Restaurants overflowed with Jubilee participants.

Thousands of children were lifted by events that sparked their imagination and creative spirits. Foot Soldiers from across the nation reunited and shared stories of their lives, past and present. Water Avenue rocked all day long with the sultry sounds of gospel, blues, and hip-hop.

A small band of servants (volunteers) planned and executed the nearly 40 events ranging from a step show that filled the National Guard Armory to capacity to the reenactment of the March that drew over 15,000 people including Attorney General Eric Holden, Representative John Lewis and a delegation of US Congress people, Dr Joseph Lowery, and hundreds of Foot Soldiers.

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Thank you congressmen for marching with the people across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Thank you churches and ministers for working and marching with us. Thank you Foot Soldiers for telling your stories. Thank you Mayor Evans for reaching out and bridging the disconnected with the city. We thank to every volunteer who gave their time and special talents. A special thanks to our sororities and fraternities who coordinated the Freedom Flame Award, Unity Breakfast, and Golf Tournament. Our volunteers and Museum staff does an amazing job with very limited resources. I thank each of them from the bottom of my heart.

Z105.3 filled the airways with Jubilee news and events. The People’s Voice Newspaper in Marion gave amazing coverage and service. The city of Selma provided valuable in-kind service. The sanitation crew was simply incredible. Wallace College, Alabama Power, and White Hall Gaming saved the day. Thank you, Dr. James Mitchell and Mayor Jackson. Dr. Jeremiah Wright donated money collected at the Mass Meeting. Over $4000 went to the Museum. We shared it with Tabernacle Baptist because the church has been extremely generous to the Museum. Thank you Dr. Wright and Reverend Morten.

I apologize. These two simple words contain our sincere regret for the failure of several acts to perform at the music festival. I offer reasons, not excuses. It is extremely difficult to raise money for the Jubilee. Most artists required their money to be paid in advance for their performances. Mike Jones, for example, agreed to come for $10,000. He was sent a contact. Apparently, he changed his mind. But the stage managers were not informed.

We apologize for any and all inconveniences the public encountered during the Jubilee. With the proper resources, I am certain that many of our errors and omissions can be eliminated or minimized. We also need new leadership.

For the past 17 years, I have tried to keep the Museums and the Jubilee ships afloat as I juggled a law practice, my youth work, and family responsibilities. In spite of tremendous stress and two bouts of breast cancer, I have lived three scores and four. I am truly blessed, but it’s time for me to move on. Our Board Chair de facto, Charles Malden, (a student leader of the Bloody Sunday March) submitted his resignation last week. I asked him to stay and help me find new leadership.

We need your help. The Jubilee has the potential of being an economic haven for the area. But without the proper financial resources, this goal cannot be achieved. The Museum and the Jubilee face grave economic hardships. Contrary to popular belief, the Jubilee Festival does not generate great sums of income. Indeed, this is the first year the income of the festival exceeded the expense and only by approximately $3,000. The cost of the stage, sound, and artist can be towering.

The Jubilee sponsors over 25 free events, but each has a price tag. The business community receives the benefits of the five-day event, but provide little financial support. SCLC is a great spiritual supporter. In the last 17 years, the organization has only given the Jubilee $2,500. The city gave fabulous in-kind support, but thus far, we have only received $500. The grant secured by Congressman Davis cannot be used for the Jubilee or for personnel. However, it is badly needed to renovate and repair the structural problems of the Museum.

These problems are not insurmountable. Effective new leadership and community cooperation are required for maximum success. During this critical time of economic crises, I pray that someone will come forward with the leadership and vision to bring Selma to a place of cultural and economic prosperity. Yes We Can!

Rose Sanders