UPDATED: National Park Service clarifies renaming of interpretive center

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The building that houses the Selma Interpretive Center is being renamed, but the National Park Service wants to clarify that the name of the center itself is not changing.

The Selma City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night to rename the building the James Perkins Jr. Voting Rights Interpretive Center.

Sandy Taylor, the superintendent for the Selma to Montgomery Historic Trail, wants to make sure the public understands the interpretive center, which is run by the National Park Service, is not changing names.

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“We request the city make clear to the public that the name of the building has changed, but not the name of the Selma Interpretive Center,” Taylor said in a letter she sent to Mayor George Evans’ office Wednesday.

“We greatly value the wonderful relationship we have with the city of Selma and appreciate your help with this important clarification.”

The letter states that the city has the right to name the building, but it does not have the right to rename the center.

“The Trail Study Act and Enabling Legislation for the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail as listed in public law 101-321, dated July 3, 1990, amended the National Trails System Act to designate the route from Selma to Montgomery,” the letter states.

“The general agreement between the city of Selma and the NPS in article I-B, states the Selma to Montgomery Trail’s Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement identifies three interpretive centers for the trail.”

The resolution passed with a 6-3 vote from the council. City Attorney Jimmy Nunn told the council before the vote that there were no restrictions on naming the building.

“We just want to make sure that the city is aware that the interpretive center, that operation that we run that is part of the National Park Service, that name cannot be changed,” Taylor said. “We just wanted to be clear about that.”

Taylor said the Selma Interpretive Center name represents the Queen City’s chapter in the voting rights movement and gives visitors continuity when traveling the historic trail.

“It gives a good continuity for a person who is traveling along the entire trail to understand what is going on,” Taylor said.

The idea to name a building after Perkins was brought up at a council work session in September by a citizen.

The initial request was to name the amphitheater after Perkins, but a council committee recommended naming the building that houses the interpretive center after him instead because of his involvement in the voting rights movement, getting the interpretive center in Selma and for being elected as the first African American mayor in Selma.

The resolution did pass, but some council members wanted to delay the vote because Perkins is running for mayor in the upcoming election.

A motion to table the vote until after the election failed to pass.

Messages left for Nunn were not returned Wednesday, but a special called meeting for the Selma City Council was set for Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at Selma City Hall to discuss additional information on the renaming of the building.