Leaders: Unity is the key to success

Published 10:16 pm Monday, March 7, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley speaks at Sunday's Unity Breakfast in Selma. -- Desiree Taylor

“There’s power in unity.”

An all-star panel of public officials, civic leaders and members of the community, gathered to make the Martin Luther King and Coretta S. King Unity Breakfast at Wallace Community College-Selma’s gymnasium Sunday, “a day to remember and reflect.”

The fifth annual breakfast, intended to promote unity within diversity, welcomed Gov. Robert Bentley, keynote speaker U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Selma).

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State Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) introduced Bentley, who encouraged the people of Alabama to “get past racial differences and become unified.”

“We may be different colors but on the inside we have the same heart,” Bentley said. “We’re all not perfect but let’s care about each other and work together to solve the problems that effect all families; let’s show the world that it’s a ‘new day’ in Alabama.”

Sewell introduced Clyburn, a former chair of the Democratic Caucus and first African-American majority whip in congress. Clyburn, who’s been married for more than 50 years, met his wife in jail during a voting rights demonstration in South Carolina. He believes “unification” is key.

“I believe there are great things ahead for Alabama,” Clyburn said. “If we’re going to survive as a country, we must be unified and not let differences among us cause friction. Unity does not mean ‘unanimous’ so we must learn to adjust. My parents didn’t give up on me and I’m not going to give up on this country either.”

Both Clyburn and Bentley agreed unalienable rights are “God given” and not government issued. Clyburn urged the public not to forget the struggle and to keep the faith.

“If we aren’t vigilant, the government will take our rights away,” Clyburn said. “Thanks to all those who have weathered ‘Bloody Sunday’ and made it possible for the Voting Rights Act to be passed. Let us always remember.”

Following the breakfast, a reception was held at the Hank Sanders Technology Building in Bentley’s honor. Bentley later spoke at Tabernacle Baptist Church and Clyburn spoke at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church.

In recognition of the visiting dignitaries, Selma Mayor George Evans presented both Bentley and Clyburn with keys to the city.