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Selma Night of Hope planned

A group of pastors, laymen and community leaders are planning an April event at Bloch Park to bring back hope to people in Selma.

Pastor John Grayson, who chairs the committee for Selma’s Night of Hope, said Selma is in need of many things, but hope is the most important.

“The main thing we need in Selma is not jobs even though we could use more jobs, it’s not money even though we could use more money, it’s not to elect new officials, it’s not event to add on to the police department even though all those things need to be done,” Grayson said. “The number one ingredient that is missing in our city right now is hope.”

Grayson said hope is something that a lot of people have lost, and he is hoping this event can help restore it.

“It is our belief from talking to young men that have been in trouble that they don’t have hope. They do some of the things they do because they don’t have hope anymore,” Grayson said. “They don’t believe that things are going to get better. They don’t believe that our political leaders, our pastors and community leaders can change or make a difference. They do what they do because they have no hope for the future.”

Councilwoman Miah Jackson, who came up with the idea for Selma’s Night of Hope, wants to show people otherwise.

“When you have hope, you have something to grasp onto,” Jackson said. “Don’t lose heart, don’t leave Selma, don’t move away when things get hard. Good people stick around and make things better, so we’re trying to inspire individuals to stick it out during these tough times to have hope.”

Jackson said the idea started in the Selma City Council’s Children and Families Committee and has grown from there. Now there is a committee in charge of just the event, making sure all the pieces are in place to bring hope.

“We want to change that mentality [of hopelessness] and get our city and our community to believe that there is hope,” Grayson said. “Selma will get better. Selma is going to get better. In fact, there is a turning going on. We believe there is a change and a turning in our city that we are right on the verge of really having a great city.”

The event is scheduled for April 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Bloch Park at the baseball field. Grayson said choirs from Selma High School, Southside High School and Concordia College Alabama will sing for the crowd. There will also be food and an inspirational message from Bishop Chuck Jones.

Jackson said former Alabama Crimson Tide football player and Dallas Cowboys football player Sherman Williams will speak and share his story.

“He’s speaking to the youth to encourage them that it does not matter where you’re from,” Jackson said. “You can be from a small town in Alabama like Selma or Pritchett and you can make it to the highest heights. You just have to have determination.”

Williams played for the 1992 Alabama championship team and was also a part of the Dallas Cowboys team that won Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Our solution for that night is we’re going to pray together, we’re going to worship together, and we’re going to have our speaker to inspire us and our community to have hope again in our city,” Grayson said.