Thousands participate in Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee

View of marchers crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma

Senator Hank Sanders introduces Gov. Robert Bentley at Unity Breakfast. In background other speakers Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) amd Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama.

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Despite rain and cold weather this weekend, thousands of people participated in the more than thirty events that comprised the 2011 Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. This year’s program commemorated the 46th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March which was the impetus for the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The events varied from a workshop on Redistricting and Reapportionment to a Hip-Hop Intergenerational Summit to a Freedom Flame Banquet honoring the 50th anniversary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to a Unity Breakfast attended by the new Governor of Alabama and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina to a tree planting to honor those in the Transatlantic slave trade and the Underground Railroad.
The SNCC Freedom Singers sang at most events and helped start the Unity Breakfast with “ Woke Up this Mornin’ with my Mind on Freedom” and “This Little Light of Mine”. Several speakers including Mayor George Evans of Selma, Probate Judge Kim Ballard of Dallas County, Skip Mason, national President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Karen Brown local President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Rep. Darrio Melton and others gave greetings. Senator Hank Sanders of Selma spoke on the occasion for the unity breakfast stating, “We must magnify the things we have in common and minimize our differences. There is much strength in unity. A single snow flake is fragile and melts on our fingertips but hundreds of snow flakes can be melded together into a snowball that can do some real damage.”
Sanders also introduced Governor Dr. Robert Bentley, a Republican who was elected this past November. Sanders said the Governor, “has a good heart and is concerned about those who have been left out in our state.”

Top picture shows Spiver Gordon pushing Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth in wheelchair at head of march, accompanied by Rev. Shuttlesworth’s wife.

At bottom left are L-R Jaribu Hill, MS Civil Rights veteran; Faya Rose Toure, Viola Luizzo’s daughter and young leaders from the 21C Leadership Movement on steps of Brown Chapel Church at rally before March.

At bottom right are members of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who were honored on their 50th Anniversary at the Freedom Flame Banquet on Saturday night.

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: or visit at 6 U. S. Highway East, Selma, Alabama 36701; phone: 334/418-0800