We must all invest in our solutions

Published 8:28 pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of covering an open public meeting at Selma’s Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church. The meeting had been organized by members of the church in the hopes it would bring together people from all walks of life to discuss the issues facing our city, county, state and nation.

The meeting featured a panel of local government leaders as well as community organizers from Selma and Montgomery, who spoke beautifully about the issues

and their possible solutions.

There was back and forth, there were times for questions and … there was hardly anyone there.

I realize the entire population of Selma and Dallas County wouldn’t attend the meeting, but I was surprised to see less than two dozen people there.

And I realize the meeting won’t be the lone resolution to what ails our community, but it could have been a bigger step toward a brighter future.

Despite the attendance, I was left with a positive outlook toward the future, in part because of one line from Selma Mayor George Evans.

“Any one of us here can make a difference, I believe that,” Evans said. “We have a population in Selma and Dallas County that is 40,000 people, and it doesn’t take 40,000 people to heal our land.”

It doesn’t take a meeting or an organization to change a city, as we all know, it just takes one person.

The meeting was an interesting chance to listen to the panel discussion, but for me the highlight was the conversation I had with Selma resident Joe Bumbrey.

I had never met Bumbrey before, but as we spoke in the moments leading up to the meeting, it became clear to me that he is living proof that one person can make a difference.

Bumbrey, who moved to Selma seven years ago with his wife after she retired, volunteers at Selma High School and said several issues affecting young people in the city, including violence and drug use, can be lessened by simply working with them and looking them in the eye.

“You just have to tell them you care about them,” Bumbrey said. “That thought won’t get through to all of them, but they just don’t hear it enough. And I think if we just look them in the eye and tell them we care about them, that can be the start of something great.”

It’s the simplest way to confront any issue, but what Bumbrey is doing at Selma High School truly is the only blueprint that will solve any issues in life; you invest yourself in the issue and you look it in the eye.

There are issues in our schools. There are issues with our infrastructure and with our crime rate.

But there are 40,000 solutions that haven’t been heard yet.

The time for everyone to focus on what we don’t have has come and gone. The time for each and every one of us to stand up and overcome the problems is now.

It has to be now.

Saturday’s meeting was something I sorely wish the whole city could have taken in, but the message of the meeting, the call to action, is something we can all still heed.