Selma resident wants non-profit to save Good Samaritan Center

Published 5:07 pm Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Selma resident wants to save the Good Samaritan Center and make it a historical site, similar to others in the city.

Mildred Dulaney wants to form Friends of the Good Samaritan Center, a non-profit organization, and have it designated by the state as a historical site. This move would enable the non-profit to qualify for grants to rehabilitate the former hospital on Broad Street.

Dulaney’s move comes after the Selma City Council has urged Mayor George Evans to cancel the city’s lease with the state for use of the building. Last month, Evans requested utilities to disconnect the building. Several years ago, the city entered into a lease with the state, seeking to place some agencies in the building to preserve it. But by the beginning of this year, only one agency remained and was behind on its rent.

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In January, according to city figures, the Good Samaritan building operated $22,000 in the red. The actual utilities for the month ran $2,000.

Delaney has scheduled a meeting for April 3 at 5 p.m. in Magnolia Gardens for those interested in forming the non-profit. Although the old hospital primarily was considered a unit for blacks, Delaney asked that anyone concerned with preserving history join her in the effort.

“We have to come out of the ‘mine’ and ‘yours.’ We need to make it all,” she said.

Dulaney presented her idea last week to the Selma City Council. She gained support right away from council President Dr. Geraldine Allen, who said it was an excellent idea.

Once the tallest building in Selma, the Good Samaritan included a 69-bed general hospital, a 26-bed skilled nursing home and a school of practical nursing.

Many have argued to keep the structure open because it has a place in the civil rights history of the city.

In January 1965, the Edmundite Missions and then-Mayor Joe Smitherman presided over a ribbon cutting at an open house for the hospital. Only a month after the ribbon was cut, Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old who attended a voting rights rally in Marion, was shot and severely beaten. He was taken to Good Samaritan and died there days later. Three days after his funeral, March 7, the famous Selma-to-Montgomery March occurred.

The Good Samaritan became a primary hospital for those injured when mounted and unmounted law enforcement officers pushed into 600 marchers as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the 52-mile walk. A yet unopened wing of the hospital housed religious workers who could not participate in the march, but helped feed the crowds and give care to those injured.