JAMES JONES COLUMN: Counting down the days to Jubilee

Published 10:07 am Monday, February 26, 2024

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The Selma Bridge Crossing officially gets underway on Feb. 29 with a Mass Meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church. 

I realize that Civil RIghts icon Dr. Bernard Lafayette will be doing a weeklong non-violent seminar that starts on Feb. 26, but the mass meeting has always been the official kickoff for the jubilee.

Starting with the meeting is a tribute to the church meetings that were common at Tabernacle and other Selma churches in the 1960s. It was during these meetings that details of the voting rights movement were planned. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also held many of his planning meetings at Brown Chapel AME Church.

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I was not born yet during the time and thus did not witness the events taking place at the mass meeting. But, my late grandmother did see them and told me about the historical events taking place in the churches. She raised five children, including my mother, during that era. 

The mass meeting symbolizes the sacrifices made in that time, sacrifices leading to multiple killings and beatings across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The mass meeting is a key part of the jubilee, and eliminating them would be comparable to the Jackson 5 without Michael Jackson, arguably the greatest entertainer of all-time.

I have always enjoyed attending the jubilee and The Selma Times-Journal’s coverage reflects that. Of course, we can not attend every event. Even Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman could do that. 

For me, Jubilee is a chance to revisit history through the eyes of local Foot Soldiers like Lynda Lowery, Betty Boynton and JoAnne Bland who tell the stories over and over again. I never get tired of hearing them. The stories are a reminder of the struggles families endured during the 1950s and 1960s. I am thankful for Martin Luther King Jr. leading the charge.

Seeing a current or former President or Vice-President always make my day. President Joe Biden received an invitation, but has not confirmed whether he will attend. Vice President Kamala Harris attended the jubilee two years ago.

The Foot Soldiers’ Breakfast, the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast and crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge are my highlights. Other events are on my radar as well and I usually drop by.

I am always baffled by those who think they know what the Jubilee is all about or call it overhyped. Those naysayers should shut their mouths, watch the events and show respect to those who went through the struggle. 

We are days away from the Bridge Crossing Jubilee and I can not wait.