Group plans Voting Rights Act celebration

Published 10:53 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2015

This year has been a year full of anniversaries for Selma and Dallas County, and there are still more to come. 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, The Selma-Dallas County Friends of the Voting Rights Trail is planning a two-day celebration Aug. 5-6 to not only commemorate the occasion but also to educate  people about the important piece of legislation.

On Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into federal law, making racial discrimination in voting illegal.

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Chairman of the celebration Brian Gosa said now is the time to give back to the community by educating them on the past.

“Being here in Selma, it’s the birthplace of it, so it’s important for people to just embrace that historical part of our city and our city’s contribution to American and world history,” Gosa said. “We want to make it educational and empowering to the community and not just celebrating, but we’re also providing an educational opportunity.”

To kick things off, Gosa said The Selma Friends are planning a mock voters registration and election for the youth of Selma.

“We’re going to be allowing the youth of the city to do somewhat of a mock registration,” Gosa said.  “We’re going to have a mock election so they’ll report with their registration card, and they’ll actually be able to go through the voting process using actual machines and ballots. It’s just giving them an idea about what it’s all about.”

Along with the mock election, The Selma Friends are also planning on having a community forum allowing people to ask questions and talk about issues they are concerned about.

“We’re also going to have a community forum and this is going to have a collection of panelists with different levels of expertise that are going to ask questions as it relates to the history of the Voting Rights Act, the current voting rights and things that are going on with the political process now,” Gosa said. “We’re going to culminate with a birthday celebration.”

The celebration is set to take place at Riverfront Park and will have a variety of things to do for people of all ages.

“We’re going to have carnival rides and a game bus where kids can go on and play video games and stuff like that. We’re going to have light food, likely some music and really just be a good social get out celebration,” Gosa said. “We’re celebrating no doubt, but we’re really looking at educational opportunities for adults and especially for the kids to become familiar with the voting and the election processes.”

Gosa said that there will also be some incentives for people that participate, like back to school items.

“When they register, they’ll get something from us that will be usable for them when school starts in August,” Gosa said.

The election is for children from the second grade up and is set to take place at the Dallas County Courthouse Aug. 5 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Youth can sign up or find more information about the process by visiting the groups website at starting Monday.

The forum is going to be at the Earl Goodwin Theater on the campus of Wallace on Aug. 5 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

The main celebration will be at Riverfront Park on Aug. 6 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.