Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee attended by thousands; Pushes theme of “Lift Our Vote 2020-Voting Rights Under Fire”

Before the re-enactment of the 1965 Blood Sunday March, 400 marchers in orange vests lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate the 400th anniversary of importation and enslavement of African people in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. When the protestors stood up they each had a Manifesto to end voter suppression and reclaim voting rights in their hands.

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.

SCLC Names International Headquarters after President Charles Steele, Jr.

By George E. Curry
Editor-in-Chief
EmergeNewsOnline.com
Charles Steele Jr.

 

ATLANTA – The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Atlanta-based civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has named its international headquarters at 320 Auburn Avenue, N.E. in honor of Charles Steele, Jr., its current president and CEO.
Steele, a former Alabama state senator from Tuscaloosa, AL served from 2004-2009 as its sixth president since the founding of SCLC in 1957. When he assumed office, the organization could not pay its utility bills and was nearly $2 million in debt.
Fred Shuttlesworth, the leader of the Birmingham, Ala. civil rights struggle and a former SCLC president, had written off his organization as dead, saying: “Only God can give life to the dead.”
When he took over, a confident Charles Steele answered that criticism directly, saying, “Well, I talked with God as well and he said he was not coming, but he sent me.”
And the record appears to support his godly assertion.
Steele said within three years, he had raised approximately $20 million – half in cash and the other half through in-kind contributions.
Having accomplished his primary mission, Steele decided to return to his life as a businessman in 2009. But his “retirement” would be short-lived.
In 2014, Steele was asked by the board of directors to give up his full-time private consulting business to return as president to an organization again on the verge of financial collapse.”Dr. Steele has returned as president because of a very important need at this point which is fundraising and fund development. That’s a primary responsibility of the president, and he has excellent skills and contacts in that arena to help us maintain our financial stability,” Board Chairman Bernard LaFayette, Jr. said at the time.
After Steele’s 5-year stint, SCLC went through a series of leadership changes. The charismatic president and fundraiser was succeeded by Rev. Howard W. Creecy, Jr., who served from 2009-2011, when he died accidently while still in office. Issac Farris Jr., a nephew of Dr. King, was dismissed in 2012 after serving less than a year as president. He was followed by civil rights icon Rev. C.T. Vivian, who agreed to serve on an interim basis until SCLC could select a new president.
For stability, SCLC turned again to a reliable face.
Steele, the only person who has ever served twice as president of the storied civil rights group, has been widely recognized for raising most of the $3.5 million to erect the 2-story building on Auburn Avenue and providing the leadership to resurrect the troubled organization.
The building, which opened in 2007, carries the official name: “SCLC International H.Q. – Charles Steele, Jr. Bldg.” A marker is prominently displayed above the front entrance of the building.
“Here is a president who, for the first time, made it possible for SCLC to own its own headquarters,” said LaFayette, the SCLC board chairman. “This is not just a building, it’s an international headquarters named to emphasize our international thrust.”
Steele said he was deeply touched by the decision to name the building in his honor.
“I could go on forever without the personal recognition,” he said in an interview. “But to put my name on the building gives respect to all of the people who supported me, especially my family. It’s a blessing from God and the expression of gratitude says that my work has not been in vain.”