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Chairman of National Endowment for the Arts visits

The chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu, stopped Wednesday in Selma during a tour of Alabama and met with local community members at Gallery 905.

Chu was joined by members of the art community, U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and others, who attended a reception to meet one another and discuss the impact that art has on Selma and the Black Belt region.

“For all the artists and all the citizens and for all of those that care about Selma, today is a major day for us,” Melton said. “Every time someone from the art world says they’re interested in Selma, we get stronger and stronger. If it wasn’t for ArtsRevive, what would our city look like? Yes, we’re known for the bridge, we’re known for the Battle of Selma, but we want to be known as an art city.”

ArtsRevive, Black Belt Community Foundation, quilters of Gee’s Bend and more were there to speak to Chu.

Sewell said she was happy to be able to show off her region, and her hometown of Selma to Chu and to show how much art means to the community and what it can do for the 7th Congressional District.

“It’s critically important that we also promote the arts and artists,” Sewell said. “I think that we in the Black Belt have so much to be proud of.”

Chu spoke to the crowd of people at Gallery 905 and said that stopping in Selma was a must.

“We’re so honored to be here. We could not, not be here in Selma,” Chu said. “What you’ve done in Alabama, it represents what we want to do across the nation, including here, and that is really making sure that people understand that the arts are for everyone.”

Chu said her parents were from China, but she was born in the United States and grew up in Arkansas. At the age of 9, her father passed away, and because of a limited vocabulary, she couldn’t express herself like she wanted. That is until she used art as an outlet.

“Together, we can create an environment where our individuals and our community thrive, and you’re already showing the nation a good model for how the community comes together to help our next generations make a difference,” Chu said. “The great things about the arts is you get to dream when it comes to imagination. And that’s where we all grow.”