I won’t forget last weekend any time soon

Published 10:49 pm Saturday, January 24, 2015

This past week was one I won’t soon forget.

On Sunday, I had the chance to meet Oprah Winfrey, singer John Legend and other cast members and crew of the film “Selma.”

I’ve had many interesting experiences over the years, but interviewing Oprah has to be near the top of career highlights so far.

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I knew I would probably only have just a minute or two with Oprah as she made her way down the red carpet outside the Walton Theater.

There were probably a thousands things I could have asked, but I chose to ask about what she took away from her portrayal of Annie Lee Cooper.

A Selma native, Cooper become famous across the country for punching Sheriff Jim Clark during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-led march to the Dallas County Courthouse.

Cooper paid a price for her fight for voting rights, as she was beaten and jailed before charges were later dropped.

That’s probably about all anyone could tell you about Annie Lee Cooper in places like Hollywood, but here at home, she was family, a friend and a neighbor.

Winfrey, who helped produce the film, said she decided to take the role of Cooper for the women in her life.

“I did it for her, and I did it for my grandmother. I did it for my aunts. I did it for everyone else’s grandmother and aunts and cousins and friends and sisters who didn’t have a chance to have the kind of life I now get to live,” Winfrey said outside the Walton.

I welcomed everyone I spoke with to Selma, and they in turn expressed their gratitude for Selma’s role in the Voting Rights Movement and during their time here working on the movie.

Legend, who minutes before gave a surreal performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and his and Common’s “Glory” from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, spoke about what it meant come to Selma.

“We’re honored to be here to commemorate the struggle that so many ordinary people went through to make history, to change the course of this country and to make it so everyone had the right to vote,” Legend said.

It was a great weekend for Selma, and one that will be hard to top, but before coming back down to reality, the White House announced Tuesday that President Obama would visit Selma on March 7 with Rep. John Lewis to commemorate Bloody Sunday.

It’s an exciting time to be in Selma. In the weeks and months ahead we need to channel this momentum into a brighter Selma, but let’s also make time to appreciate the history unfolding right in front of our eyes.