Sarah Duncan and Lester Brown honored by National Voting Rights Museum and Institute


Pictured above are Ms. Sarah Duncan, Dr. Barnard Layfayette and Lester Brown being honored by the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute.

Two Greene County voting rights foot-soldiers, Sarah Duncan and Lester “Bop” Brown, were honored at the annual banquet of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma. Also honored at the same event was Dr. Bernard Lafayette of Atlanta, a civil rights movement veteran of SNCC and SCLC, who participated in the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March.
Duncan and Brown received the “Living Legends Award” for their consistent and tireless work on voter registration, education, organization and participation since the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Both have been involved in generating turnout in Greene County elections including encouraging those who are qualified to apply for and utilize the absentee ballot.
Sarah Duncan who has served as a deputy registrar and a Greene County Racing Commissioner said, “I had a vision that I could make a difference in my community and then I set about doing the work necessary to make it happen.”
Brown, who serves on the Greene County Board of Education, in accepting his award said, “It is a great honor but it also was a great and ongoing struggle. It was not easy to use our right to vote and we did not get here without great lawyers like J. L. Chestnut, Hank and Rose Sanders, John H. England and Michael Figures to defend us when we were attacked for voting too much.”
Brown said he was disturbed by the recent lenient plea deal in the case of Trooper Fowler who killed Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion, Alabama in 1965. Brown said he accompanied Emma Jackson, Jackson’s sister, to the trial and was not satisfied with the six months plea deal. He said the plea deal was never discussed with Jackson’s family. “We would not be here tonight except for the sacrifices of Jimmie Lee Jackson and many others. We must honor their memory,” said Brown.
Mistress of Order for the Ceremony, Malika Sanders Fortier, commented, “Our living legend honorees are warriors on the battlefield, even when they are getting an award.”
Dr. Bernard Lafayette, who is currently teaching civil rights history and nonviolence training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia also received a major award at the banquet. Lafayette came to Selma with SNCC and SCLC in 1965 and helped with voter registration campaigns and logistics for the march.
Lafayette said, “We turned the Edmund Pettus Bridge into an international monument to democracy and voting rights. We made it a bridge to span the centuries. We made it and the National Voting Rights Museum a lesson and model for young people. We have institutionalized a place to learn how to serve others. I salute the National Voting Rights Museum for all it has done to further our movement.”
Persons interested in more information about the museum and how to support it may go to: http://www.nvrmi.org or visit at 6 U. S. Highway East, Selma, Alabama 36701; phone: 334/418-0800

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