Event serves as official welcome

Published 12:35 am Friday, March 2, 2012

Doris Sledge of Huntsville, Wanda Thomas of Washington D.C. and Margaret Baker of Huntsville attended the Bridge Crossing Jubilee Welcome Program Thursday evening inside the St. James Hotel. -- Desiree Taylor

The 2012 annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee kicked off with music, singing, poetry and “messages of hope” from guest speakers who lived through the civil rights movement and fought for equal rights.

Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson, author and friend to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. F.D. Reese, former president of the Dallas County Voters League, Perry County commissioners Johnny Flowers and Albert Turner Jr. and Amelia Boynton Robinson, movement pioneer, were all on hand to show the impact the movement made on the nation.

Reese, who was presented a certificate for his contributions by the city on Thursday, was influential in bringing King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to Selma in the 1960s.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s always a great delight of mine to be able to share just how good God has been to me and this nation,” Reese said. “It was a stirring and delightful moment to have King and his followers wanting to help people of Selma.”

During the successful Selma-to-Montgomery march on March 21, 1965, Reese said he walked alongside King’s wife, Coretta and his chief lieutenant Hosea Williams. Reese believes the struggles of the movement were worth it.

“When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, all persons, regardless of color or creed, could have the opportunity to participate in the voting process that will govern their lives,” Reese said. “And I thank God.”

Boynton, who as a youth helped pass out voter information packets to residents with her mother, said it’s important for people to get out and vote.

“If you don’t get the right to vote, you’re not a first class citizen,” Boynton said. “I understand a lot of people said they stood on our (activists) shoulders … get off my shoulders and get to work.”

Event coordinator Rose Sanders said it’s important to remember the cause.

“We’re going to have to protect our rights,” Sanders said. “In Selma, we’re making progress but we have a long way to go. But, I believe we’re on the right track.”

Sanders called for public support to help keep Jubilee’s festivities going for years to come.

“We really need yall’s support — it’s to everybody’s advantage to put differences aside,” Sanders said. “It’s not about you or I; history belongs to everyone. If you want this event to be here for your grandchildren, support the Jubilee.”

Boynton will be honored after the Selma-to-Montgomery march reenactment Sunday.