NLC president makes stop in Selma

Published 11:59 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

National League of Cities president James Mitchell Jr., left, is given a tour of the Edmund Pettus Bridge by Selma Mayor George Evans Saturday evening. Evans, along with city council members Corey Bowie and Susan Keith, walked with Evans and Mitchell as they crossed the bridge. -- Tim Reeves

By Alison McFerrin

The Selma Times-Journal

Selma played host, if only for a few hours, to the president of the National League of Cities Saturday evening.

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James Mitchell Jr., a city council member for Charlotte, N.C., made a trip to Selma to fulfill his dream of walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Previous plans to visit were halted by storms, but Mitchell said nothing would stop him from making the trip.

“I think every leader needs to understand his history,” Mitchell said. “This is not a black bridge or white bridge, Democrat or Republican bridge, but just a bridge about public service and about having true leadership.”

A brief event took place before the bridge crossing to welcome Mitchell to Selma and reflect on the importance of the bridge to civil rights history.

“Some people didn’t want to identify with the bridge, because of what happened,” Selma Mayor George Evans said. “But now it’s becoming really a positive message.”

Attendees included council members Susan Keith and Corey Bowie, William Scott from Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s office, and members of the city of Selma Police Department, among others.

Keith also took the opportunity to formally announce the news of the Recycling and Sustainability grant Selma received.

“This grant will help out a lot with air pollution,” Danielle Smith, a student working this summer in Selma City Hall, said. “You can see some trash around, some people may not care, but it will really help out the city.”

Mitchell said recycling and sustainability is one of his passions.

“As president of the NLC, we talk about recycling,” Mitchell said. “We talk about creating more energy related jobs and green jobs. In Charlotte … we’re training our citizens to get more green-oriented jobs — solar panels, wind, geothermal, are some of the initiatives we’re taking.”

Mitchell came down to Selma from Huntsville just for the evening. He said Alabama was the ninth state he’s been to in six days, but he was glad for the chance to visit.

“This is great, not only for me, but the National League of Cities,” Mitchell said.

And to top off the evening, Mitchell made the trip that so many have — over the bridge.

“I just want to make history myself,” Mitchell said.