By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher
Despite stormy weather, thousands attended the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, this past weekend in Selma, Alabama. Part a commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday March for Voting Rights”; part a celebration of civil and voting progress in our nation; and part a recommitment to social change activism to correct voter suppression and bring more equity and dignity to the struggle for human rights in America.
The Jubilee was a combination of more than 40 events including workshops, a parade, a golf tournament; a unity breakfast, several award presentations, the “Foot Soldiers breakfast”, a beauty pageant, a mock trial, the “Freedom Flame dinner”, and the March re-enactment on Sunday afternoon.
Former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said at the opening Mass Meeting, at Tabernacle Baptist Church, on Thursday night, “the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee is the largest civil rights gathering in the nation, dedicated to furthering voting rights and human rights for people in our country and around the world.”
Sanders recalled that over 80,000 people attended the 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday in 2015, when President Obama attended and 110,000 people came to march that Sunday.
Attorney Faya Rose Toure (Sanders) who coordinates the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, said, “ We want to celebrate the courage of the people in the 1960’s who led the voting rights movement from Selma, but we must also recognize the current day’s rampant voter suppression in this country and the fact that Selma is the ninth poorest city in America with a high rate of crime and homicides.”
Faya Rose also pointed out that 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the enslavement of African people in north America, with the importation of twenty Black workers to the British colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. There was an event where 400 people lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate this anniversary. The lay-in was delayed by bad weather and a tornado warning but did take place before the larger crowd of thousands re-enacted the 1965 Bloody Sunday Voting Rights March. “We were beaten on the bridge in 1965 but we are lying down in 2019 and rising up to end voter suppression and lifting our voices and votes to change oppressive conditions for all people,” said Faya Rose Toure.
A highlight of the Jubilee was Sunday morning’s Unity Breakfast held at Wallace Community College in Selma. More than a thousand people attended to witness Hillary Clinton receive the International Unity Award, as well as to meet and listen to several Presidential candidates including Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown. The breakfast also heard greetings from civil rights leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. William Barber, Charles Steele and other local leaders like newly elected State Senator Malika Sanders Fortier and Congresswomen Terri Sewell.
In presenting the International Unity Award to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Hank Sanders said, “Secretary Clinton was elected President in 2016, but the election was stolen from her by the FBI reporting on her emails, the Russians hacking into the Democratic Party and sending false messages on social media. She deserves this award for standing up for women’s rights and human rights across the globe.”
Faya Rose Toure inducted Hillary Clinton into the Women’s Hall of Fame at the National Voting Rights Museum.
In her remarks, in accepting the awards, Clinton said, “ I am honored and humbled to receive these awards for my work for women, voting and human rights. But we have urgent unfinished work to protect fundamental rights, freedom of the press, and ending voter suppression. There is a crisis in this country and it is up to us to address it.”
“We must show up and vote every time in every election. We must di this step by step, year by year, door by door, to reclaim our democracy,” said Clinton.
In his remarks, Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said, “ I must express my thanks to Faya Rose and Hank Sanders for keeping this Bridge Crossing Jubilee going year after year and to the people of Selma, the birthplace of modern democracy in America. Since the 2018 elections, we have 55 Black Congress-people, 38 Latino and Latinas, 20 Asian Americans and over 100 women. All of these people, and many more state and local public officials, owe their positions to the voting rights struggle in Selma in 1965. But Selma is still suffering with a 40% poverty rate. We need to push the government for a ’rural reconstruction plan and project in Selma and surrounding counties of the Alabama Black Belt’, just like we rebuild Europe with the Marshall Plan after World War II,” said Rev. Jackson.