Seattle Seahawks officials come to Selma

Published 6:38 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

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Officials associated with the Seattle Seahawks were in Selma on Monday to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement as part of an initiative to help register players and fans to vote and educate them on the importance of voting.

The group also included retired Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who came to the Common Power and had lunch at Reflections Coffee Shoppe. Common Power, which owns The Selma Times-Journal building and leases the coffee shop to Jackie Smith, has been connected with the Seahawks organization and has aided them with the “12s Vote” initiative.

Karen Wilkins-Mickey, vice president for diversity equity and inclusion with the Seahawks, said it started out as them finding a way to help promote the importance of voting. It started out with registering players and educating them, but it expanded to coordinating trips to Selma, where players can hear the stories of living foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement.

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“For our people to come to Selma to experience and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Mr. Charles Mauldin, to stand where the foot soldiers stepped, see where Bloody Sunday and Turnaround Tuesday took place, be part of that and stand in the place of history, there’s nothing like it. There’s not a textbook. There’s not a conversation I’ve had that will bring me to a moment like this,” Wilkins-Mickey said.

Dr. Terry Anne Scott, retired college professor, author and director of the Institute for Common Power, said her goal is to help educate the public on the history of racism and voter suppression  and how that’s tied into the modern world. The Seahawks organization allows them the time to educate them on voting and voter suppression, including giving them a voting literacy test.

“They’re basically our kids’ age, like 21 or 22 years old, and they come up to us, shake our hands and say, ‘thank you so much for being here,’ when they’re in the middle of practice,” Scott said. “They were just so appreciative of this.”

Charles Douglas, executive director of Common Power, said the only way to come together as a country. 

“And that’s what it’s going to take for us to come out of this moment in history,” Douglas said. “The only way that we truly advance as a country is when we come together across differences and find a common goal.”

Scott not only wants to educate them, but also to move them to action.

“It’s not good luck; I hope you figure out what you’re going to do,” Scott said. “We actually have an avenue for that. We can say because one of our primary purposes is to draw more people in and also to filter them over to Common Power. We have an avenue for you to go and create change, to knock on doors, to text people, to postcard, to mobilize voters. So we are a pipeline in the system that you don’t see.”

The goal is to create a group of new foot soldiers to highlight the importance of voting rights and exercising those rights in every election. This was similar to the 2023 Truth and Purpose pilgrimage that the Seahawks led in the fall of 2023.

Those on the trips also get to experience tours led by JoAnn Bland and her sister, Lynda Lowery, and to hear experiences of foot soldiers like Mauldin. 

It’s not just enough to come and experience Selma, Wilkins-Mickey said. It’s about giving back to the community.

“And when people come here, we want every single person to say, how do I leverage my resources to impact Selma?” Wilkins-Mickey said. “How can we come here and not only see Selma, but impact Selma in the way it has impacted all of us?”