Festivals are costly

Published 6:03 pm Friday, February 24, 2017

By Susan Youngblood
Keith represents Ward 2 on the Selma City Council.

President Bill Clinton said it best in his years ago visit to Selma when he said something to the effect that the Civil Rights Movement and the brave actions of the Foot Soldiers and Leaders of Bloody Sunday freed us all. It allows us to be friends and to live our lives together.

Still, there is no possible way that someone like me can imagine my mother, father or other loved one having been on Pettus Bridge in 1965.

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I can’t fathom being denied buying a meal, using the restroom, getting medical treatment, or electing our leaders, among a host of other life pursuits, denied singly because of the melatonin in my body. I can, and do, empathize. I can, and do, feel sadness and shame for what a race of people was subjected to. But in no way can I truly understand the emotional issues that come with the celebration of Bloody Sunday for African Americans. I can truly understand that it is important that we remember, commemorate and celebrate.

The most difficult thing for me to understand is why the question of funding the annual celebration is so difficult.

While $33,000 is a lot of money for the city of Selma and its overstretched budget, it isn’t a lot of money to a lot of people who seem to have benefitted from the movement and the brave acts of the leaders and foot soldiers. I have long been perplexed at the people who have come to Selma and taken, leaving nothing.

We’ve had a big screen movie produced in part here, about Selma, we’ve had the colossal 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, and we continue to have a steady stream of people who come to walk over and have their photo made on Pettus Bridge.

We have had some high powered politicians come to Selma.

They all say that they stand on the shoulders of the leaders and foot soldiers who were on Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. Perhaps they have no idea that we need help to keep the remembrance going.

Such remembrances and celebrations cost money. It cost in immediate terms to have events, but when we have huge influxes of people, it costs in long term wear and tear.

Our aged infrastructure gets more compromised the more traffic we have.

We depend on tourism dollars vis a vis sales, gas and lodging tax to repair and replace infrastructure as needed.

When we lose tax revenue, as we have in recent years, on big festivals and celebrations, it is a double loss.

The city of Selma, her people, the people who love her, and those who benefit from her need to take much better care of the city. People who come to Selma and benefit should leave something besides their footprints. Taking care of a Queen is costly.