Museum to mark voting rights act anniversary

Published 4:19 pm Saturday, July 30, 2016

In March 1965, a tide of supporters followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Selma to Montgomery marches, which led to approval of the Voting Rights Act later that year in August.

Sam Walker, The National Rights Museum and Institute historian, said while some of these foot soldiers in the movement have become household names, others “went on back to their regular worlds and [were] never recognized for their contribution to the struggle.”

On Saturday, Aug. 6, the museum will reflect on the 51st anniversary of the Voting Rights Act with an open house, free of charge, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and a Ceremony of Appreciation and reception immediately following. The ceremony and reception will be held at the Bridge Theater, located across the street from the museum. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Walker said in addition to appreciating the historic moment of the Voting Rights Act, the event is a time to appreciate foot soldiers that may not have been recognized for their efforts.

“When we opened the Voting Rights Museum in 1993, we made that one of our main focuses of identifying who these people are, who were never recognized for their work,” Walker said. “We can’t give them a book deal or a movie deal, but we can at least say thank you for your work. And so that’s what we try to do for people who have never been recognized.”

According to Walker, more than 3,000 video interviews have been recorded and roughly 350-400 plaster footprint imprints have been collected in the past 23 years.

With the footprints, Walker said the person’s name is displayed along with a brief history of their involvement with the marches and Voting Rights Act as well as of what they are doing now.

Citizens who participated in the 1965 movement or those who are interested in attending the event are encouraged to contact Walker or Mae Richardson at the museum at (334) 418-0800.