At a recent press conference at the Alabama State House, Senator Hank Sanders of Selma said the Bridge Crossing Jubilee celebration commemorating the 1965 Bloody Sunday March for Voting Rights will go forward as planned with some small changes.
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee consists of 40 or more events over the five-day period, including workshops, mass meetings, a parade, golf tournament, breakfasts, dinners, films and other events related to voting rights. The Jubilee includes a re-enactment of the 1965 march from Browns Chapel Church through downtown Selma and crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge and a rally on the Montgomery side of the bridge.
Sanders said the Jubilee received a bill for $23,882 from the City of Selma for police, fire, public service and other expenses for the five-day event. “We are not able to pay this outrageous amount. We have always said that we were willing to pay a reasonable amount but this bill is unacceptable. We paid for the right to hold this commemorative march in blood in 1965 and we are not paying now,” he said.
Sanders pointed out that most of the events are free and most are workshops held in churches and public buildings that do not require police presence for five days. “We bring in people from all over the state, nation and the World. They spend money in Selma and surrounding communities. We do not charge for most of the events and when there is a charge it is for food and other expenses. The Jubilee does not make money – it takes money,” said Sanders.
“The basic change we are making is shifting the Jubilee Festival with vendors and music from Water Street at the base of the bridge to the east side of the bridge,” said Sam Walker.
All other events will take place as planned.
On Monday, March 6, there will be a “Slow Ride to Montgomery” and a rally at the State House at the end of the ride with Rev. William Barber speaking on the moral imperatives of ending voter suppression in America. The organizers are hoping for 100 vehicles to participate. The ride will follow the route of the 1965 march, stopping at historical sites along the way.
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee begins on Thursday, March 2 at 7:00 PM with an Old-Fashioned Mass Meeting at Tabernacle
Baptist Church at 1431 Broad Street in Selma, where the initial meetings of the voting rights struggle were held in Selma in the 1960’s.
Legendary Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray will be the keynote speaker at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Thursday. Attorney Gray is the lead lawyer who argued and won the case to allow Voting Rights Foot Soldiers to march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. He is portrayed in the movie Selma.
Attorney Gray has been involved in many historical Civil Rights cases in Alabama, including Gomillion v. Lightfoot; representation of Rosa Parks, whose arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and desegregation of the Montgomery bus system; and Lee v. Macon Co. Bd. of Educ., which helped to desegregate schools throughout the state.
A full schedule of events for the weekend is available at www.selmajubilee.com.