We won’t pay the city for Bridge Crossing Jubilee

Published 8:53 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Yesterday, February 21, 2017, the City of Selma delivered a letter stating that the Bridge Crossing Jubilee must pay $23,882.02 in advance in order to march and engage in other activities on the 52nd Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. We will not pay to march in Selma. Selma paid for the right to march with blood in 1965. We will not pay to march in 2017.

There have been efforts to stop the Bloody Sunday March, and this is just another form of that ongoing effort. The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is a series of 40-plus events. Few of them are on public property. The City of Selma purports to start charging on Thursday evening at an event at Tabernacle Baptist Church marking the first mass meeting in the Voting Rights Movement in Selma. Selma paid in 1965 for the right to meet at mass meetings in churches.

Most of the events are various kinds of workshops and celebratory and commemorative functions on non-city property. We will not pay in 2017 to commemorate sacrifices made and celebrate victories won in 1965.

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Selma is a symbol for freedom the world over. It must be a symbol with meaning. It cannot be a symbol with meaning if we have to pay the City of Selma to meet at churches, pay to have workshops on non-city property and pay to march. The idea of finance is a ruse to stop the commemoration and celebration of one of the most historic and seminal events in this country. This is about politics, not money. We must and will fight this in every arena — community, political, public, media, legal and other.

It appears from the City of Selma’s letter that officials are trying to charge for people coming to Selma because they are charging from the first event at a church to after the Bridge Crossing Jubilee officially ends. This is not only wrong; it is illegal and unconstitutional.

People have the right to peacefully assemble, and people have a right to visit a city on a historic occasion without cost for just being there. People come to this event from all over the world, and they have a right to visit Selma — a worldwide symbol that must continue to have meaning.

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is regularly listed as one of the top ten events in Alabama every year. When people come to a city, they spend money and pay taxes that benefit the city, county and state. This is the 25th year of the Jubilee, and there have been efforts to stop it before, but nothing like this. While this is the 25th Anniversary of the Jubilee, the Bloody Sunday March has been commemorated every year since the early 1970s. We cannot pay to march because too high a price has already been paid.