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Voting museum cuts new ribbon

As 24-year-old Dorothea Huggins filmed from the St. James Hotel on March 7, 1965, she watched her 29-year-old husband Lawrence Huggins, and the first group crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge on “Bloody Sunday.”

“I actually went by the St. James to see it because [Lawrence Huggins] didn’t want me to go over,” Dorothea Huggins said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

That’s why she kept her distance, filming with a home video camera to record the events, just in case.

The Huggins’ were two of the five people inducted into the “Footprints of our Ancestors” exhibit and honored at the grand re-opening of the National Civil Rights Museum and Institute.

The museum opened on Water Avenue in 1993 and moved to its current location on Highway 80 East in Nov. 2009.

“The building is completely different from the way it looks across the street,” said Olimatta Taal, interim executive director.

Thanks to a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services, space for exhibits has doubled in the new building and includes more technological elements such as televisions. The purpose of the added features is to attract more tourism to Selma, increasing local economy.

Taal intends to have the museum host events throughout the year, such as this weekend’s Juneteenth celebration that commemorates the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1866, to raise revenue so the museum can be self-sufficient, rather than rely on grants and donations. The amendment emancipated slaves in the US.

“We are committed to making this museum not only survive, but to thrive,” said Charles Mauldin, co-chair NMRM board of directors.

Other newly inducted members Amelia Boynton Robinson, Annie Lee Cooper and Annie Pearl Avery were not able to attend Friday’s ceremony.

For more information, contact the museum at 418-0800.