Second Caravan to Washington, D.C. after Anniversary of Selma50 Set For March 23-25

selma50 march2SOS and its partners in Selma are hosting a second Caravan for Voting Rights set to begin on March 23, after the Selma to Montgomery march and rally, from Montgomery, Alabama on March 22.

The caravan will arrive in Washington, D.C. on March 25.

Your participation last year was critical, and we request that you once again join this effort to restore the pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, says Faya Rose Toure’, SOS member and coordinator of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which just organized the celebration and commemoration of Bloody Sunday’s 50th Anniversary.

“The movie Selma, President Obama’s visit, and the extraordinary turn-out for Bloody Sunday commemoration has galvanized justice loving people and returned their focus on voting rights and human rights,” she says. “But the victory we thought was won and secured 50 years ago has been rolled back. Indeed, the very lives of our young black brothers and sisters continue to be threatened, and the vote remains a powerful tool in fighting police brutality. So we can’t keep silent or sit down until the voting rights and civil rights of every American are fully protected.”

The caravan schedule is as follows:
March 23
Atlanta: 9:30 am
Columbia: 3 pm

March 24
Raleigh: 9:30 am
Richmond: 3:00 pm
Rally in Virginia Evening

March 25
Senate Bldg: 10 am
House Bldg: After Senate Bldg


For more information, contact Faya Rose on the Caravan at 334 419-4349 and  Logistics coordinator, Jeffery Jones, can be contacted at

But What of Selma, Worldwide Symbol of Voting Rights and Freedom?

Two of SOS’s founding members, Alabama State Sen. Hank Sanders and Attorney/Poet Faya Rose Toure, have written their perspectives in the New York Times on Selma — its storied past, its stagnated present and their future in the city they’ve fought to love:

selmamarchersinmontg1965_npsSELMA, Ala. — The memory is as powerful as if it were yesterday. On March 25, 1965, tens of thousands of us gathered before the Alabama State Capitol, the endpoint of a five-day, 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called out, “How long?” and the crowd responded, “Not long!” The moment was electric. We believed it would not be long before the right to vote was deeply rooted and bearing fruit in America.

In one sense, we were right. The Voting Rights Act, passed just months after the Selma marches, banned the discriminatory voting practices that many southern states had enacted following the Civil War. Over time, the Act enabled millions of African-Americans to register to vote, and for decades following its passage, voting rights continued to slowly expand. But in another sense we are still waiting. Either Dr. King was wrong or “not long” is biblical, measured in generations.

We came to Selma in 1971, newly married and fresh out of Harvard Law School. Our intentions were to stay for five years. We were sure that by then Dr. King’s vision of voting rights would have been realized. Over 40 years later, not only are the fruits scarce, but the roots are shallow and feeble.

Celebrations, commemorations and movies make people feel good, but the reality is that voting rights have been rolled back dramatically in recent years. The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act, striking down a central provision requiring certain states, including Alabama, to obtain federal clearance before changing voting procedures. Since then, several states have limited access to voting by blacks and others. Today, all Alabama voters must show photo identification. In Alabama and other states, this I.D. must be government-issued. These policies, which disproportionately affect minority, poor and elderly voters who are less likely to possess government-issued I.D.s, are the 21st-century equivalent of the Jim Crow-era poll tax and literacy test.

Dr. King understood that voting would be the last right granted to African-Americans because it was the most powerful. Indeed, if we had better understood our history, we would not have been surprised that “not long” has stretched into a half-century. We did not remember that, though the 15th Amendment gave black men the right to vote in 1870, Congress in 1894 repealed legislation enacted in 1870 and 1871 that provided robust and necessary enforcements of that right. In a sense, in 1965 we were trying to get back to where we briefly were in America in the 1870s.

But what of Selma, the worldwide symbol of voting rights and freedom?

As Dr. King urged, we marched on the ballot boxes. In 1965 there were 300 registered African-American voters and zero African-American elected officials in Dallas County, where Selma is located; in 2015 there were 19,862 registered African-American voters and 19 African-American elected officials. But we greatly underestimated the power of those who control the voting process.

It took over 35 years to dislodge Joseph T. Smitherman, who was mayor of Selma on March 7, 1965, the day known as Bloody Sunday, when lawmen disrupted the first attempted Selma-to-Montgomery march, brutally attacking peaceful demonstrators. Today most elected officials in Selma are African-American. But in Dallas County — which is about 70 percent black — whites hold six of the seven countywide elected positions. Until 2010, eight African-Americans chaired meaningful committees in the Alabama State Senate. Now we are isolated minorities without a single position of statewide influence.

Some progress has been made in the justice system, though real justice remains far removed. The Selma mayor and police chief are African-American, and Dallas County has an African-American district attorney. But black men are often held in jail for extended periods on multimillion dollar bonds, and police brutality and profiling of the poor remain far too prevalent.

In Dallas County, the number of African-Americans living at poverty level is nearly eight times that of whites. Too many African-Americans in Selma still live in substandard housing. And while the law no longer requires it, nearly all African-American children here still attend schools that are effectively segregated. Our granddaughter graduates from high school in Selma this year, and there was not one white child in any of her classes from first through 12th grade.

Despite our city’s fame as a cornerstone of the Civil Rights movement, African-Americans in Selma who dare to discuss these issues openly and honestly are called racists, haters and worse.

Yes, we marched on the ballot boxes. But for the tens of thousands of African-Americans in Selma, life, as Langston Hughes said, “ain’t been no crystal stair.” Better off is not equal.

We came to Selma over four decades ago; today we are both in our seventies. When we arrived, we agreed that every five years we would decide anew whether to stay or leave. Each time we chose to stay. The choice is coming up again next year. What shall we do? The struggle continues because the challenges remain great.

Hank Sanders has served as a member of the Alabama State Senate since 1983. Faya Rose Toure is an attorney and civil rights activist. 

Selma50 Workshops and Activities at the 2015 Bridge Crossing Jubilee

logoThe annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee is more than a commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” and the movement for voting rights 50 years ago. Its activities reflect the on-going nature of the Freedom Movement. Modern-day activists and leaders who are carrying the torch for a new generation discuss strategies to fight new versions of the same old issues of discrimination and equality under the law.

SOS has uploaded the most recent and complete schedule of events for the Selma50 schedule of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee.



5:00 pm – 5:45 pm           Mayor’s Welcome Reception, Performing Arts Center, 1000 Selma Av, Mayor George Evans

5:45 pm—6:45 pm            Play: The Life of Jimmie Lee Jackson, Performing Arts Center, 1000 Selma Ave.

7:00 pm—9:00 pm              Memorial for Martyrs of the Movement & Mass Meeting, Tabernacle Baptist Church, 1431 Broad St. Speakers:  Rev. William Barber, Dr. Bernice King, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm           Miss Jubilee Pageant, School of Discovery, 1200 Water Ave, Fee: $5


6:30 am                               Jubilee Golf Tournament, Valley Grande Golf Course, Dr Leroy Maxwell, 334-872-2321, $75

8:00 am—9:00 am            Women & the Civil Rights Movement: A Conversation, Dr. Adelaide Sanford, Diane Nash, Dr. Thelma Adair, Faya Toure’, Wallace Community College (WWCS), 3000 Earl Goodwin Pkwy.

9:00 am – 3:00 pm            Education Summit, WWCS, 3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway (Registration 8:00 am – 9:00- am)

9:00 am – 12:00 noon      How to Value Black Lives: The Case for Emotional Emancipation, Community Healing Network, Inc, Performing Arts Center, 1000 Selma Ave.

9:00 am—12 noon            Economic Empowerment Summit, Presented by Black Women’s Roundtable & Women of Will, Wallace Community College, 3000 Goodwin Pkwy, Sheila Tyson, Convener

11:00 am – 1-30 pm         Public Hearings on Poverty: A Renewal of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, Brown Chapel, 410                                       Martin Luther King St.

9:00 am – 11:00 am          Children’s Sojourn, School of Discovery, 400 Wash St, Shiloh Baptist Church, 1416 Selma Av, $7

10:00 am – 2:00 pm         Invisible Giants Story Telling, Selma City Schools

1:30 pm – 3:30 pm           Building a Movement From the Ground Up, Rev William Barber, Brown Chapel, 410 M.L. King St.

3:15 pm – 3:45 pm           Induction into Legal Guardians Hall of Fame, National Voting Rights Museum, 6 Hwy 80 East,

3:45 pm – 4:15 pm           Induction into the Women’s Hall of Fame, National Voting Rights Museum, 6 Hwy 80 East

4:00 pm – 10:00 pm       Film Festival, Performing Arts Center, 1000 Selma Ave.

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm         Mock Trial, Concordia College, Auditorium, 1712 Broad St

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm         A Public Conversation: “Chaos or Community?” Concordia College, Auditorium, 1712 Broad Street. Speakers:  Benjamin Chavis, Dick Gregory, Maxine Waters and Rev. Jeremiah Wright

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm         “Stomp Out to Vote” Step Show, Wallace Community College Gymnasium,, 3000 Earl Goodwin Pkwy, Fee: $12





9:00 am – 10:30 am, Wallace Community College, 3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway

  •  Medicaid Expansion Matters: The Lives of 300,000 Alabamians Depend On It; Sophia Bracey Harris, Executive Director, Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama; Joe Keffer, retired Labor and Community Organizer, Service Employees International Union; Tammy Thomas, Field Organizer, Center for Community Change
  • Still Separate, Still Unequal: Combating Racial Segregation Under the Fair Housing Act and Other Civil Rights Laws; Sara Pratt, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Programs and Enforcement, HUD; Faith Cooper, Director, Central Alabama Fair Housing Center; Tafeni English, Fair Housing Specialist, Central Alabama Fair Housing Center
  • Federal Sentencing and Over Incarceration: Thirty Years of Failed Policy and What We Can Do

To Fix It Now; Christine Freeman, Executive Director, Middle District of Alabama Federal Defender Program; Kevin Butler, Federal Public Defender; Northern District of Alabama; Carlos Williams, Executive Director, Southern District of Alabama Federal Defenders Organization

  • A Society That Works for All: Not Just the Corporations and the Wealthy; Ying Gee, Assistant Director for Civil & Human Rights International Union, United Auto Workers; Representative, SEIU, Rise Up for $15 Campaign; Representative, Amalgamated Transit Union   

·The Role of Education in the Liberation of a People 50 Years Later, Tony Browder, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Dr. Robert White, Dr. Adelaide Sanford



2:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Dallas County Courthouse, 105 Lauderdale Street OR Dallas County Court House Annex, 102 Church Street

  • From Slavery to Mass Incarceration, Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative, Courthouse, 2nd Floor Courtroom
  • Fighting for Economic Justice in the Black Belt; Lawrence Gardella, Director for Advocacy, Legal Services Alabama; Geraldine V. Turner-Wofford, Managing Attorney, Selma Office, Legal Services Alabama; Terrika Shaw, Staff Attorney, Legal Services Alabama; Annex, Commissioner’s Courtroom
  • Alabama Unafraid: Latino Immigrant Activism Post-House Bill 56; Dr. Carlos Aleman, Assistant Professor of History and Director of Latin American Scholars Study Program, Stamford University, Annex, Courtroom Two
  • Change Is Gonna Come: Advancing an Environmental & Climate Justice Agenda in the South, Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP Climate Change Program, Richard Moore, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Harold Mitchell, Regensis; Cynthia Peurifoy, Environmental Justice Division, Region IV, Annex, Courtroom One

4:30 pm—5:00 pm             •The Charge: Fighting for the Future and the Soul of the Nation, Rev. William Barber, Moral Monday Movement, Courthouse, 2nd Floor



Times and Locations As Indicated Below

9:00 am—11:00 am          • Voting Rights & Elected Officials of Color from 1965 to 2015, and Beyond, Joint Center for Political Economic Affairs, Black Belt African American Genealogical & Historical Society, Selma Public Library, 1103 Selma Ave.

2:00 pm, approximately   • Voting Rights Workshop—Keeping America’s Promise: Advancing Democracy, AND 

Voting Rights Act @ 50 Unity Reception NAACP Legal Defense Fund Lawyers and Special Guests, Brown Chapel, 410 Martin Luther King Jr. St.  (immediately following President Barack Obama’s Address)

See Website                        · State of the Black Race Post-Obama, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law,

10:00 am– 12:00 noon     • The Drug War: Its Role in Mass Incarceration & Disenfranchisement of African Americans, Pastor   Kenneth Glasgow, TOPS, Asha Bandele/DPA, Dorsey Nunn, Daryl Atkinson, First Baptist Church, 709 Martin Luther King St, Selma

12 noon – 2:00 pm            • Southern People’s Initiative—Two Year Action Plan, Stephanie Guilloud & Emery Wright, Pastor, Project South, Kenneth Glasgow, TOPS, First Baptist Church, 709 Martin Luther King St.

5:00 pm-8:00 pm              AND  Welcome Reception & Dinner Pastor David Perry, New Selmont churuch, 215 Selmont Avenue.

2:00 pm—4:30 pm            · LIVING LEGENDS SHARE THEIR WISDOM ABOUT THE CHALLENGES  OF TODAY:  Panelists: Claudette Colvin, Dorothy Cotton, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Worth Long, Robert “Bob” Moses, Diane Nash, Dr. C.T. Vivian, Harry Belafonte, Selma Convention Center, 411 Washington St.




8:00 am – 9:30 am           Foot Soldiers Breakfast, RB Hudson Middle School, 1701 Summerfield Road, $5

9:00 am – 10:30 am         Jubilee Parade, Selma High School to Dallas Ave on Broad St.

10:45 am—11:15 pm          Battle of the Bands, School of Discovery Athletic Field, 400 Washington St.

11:00 am – 8:00 pm         Jubilee Street Festival & Music (Blues, Gospel, Hip Hop, R&B), Broad & Dallas, $12 Advance, $20 Gate

2:00 pm 4:00 pm              Turn Up Youth Summit, School of Discovery, 400 Washington Avenue

11:00 am—10:00 pm        Film Festival, Performing Arts Center, 1000 Selma Avenue

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm           Giving Voice and Breath to Our Young People, Sponsored by the Griot Collective, Elders’ House,                              1304 Water Ave. (Free)

1:30 pm — 3:30 pm          Fruits of the Labor Luncheon, Wallace Community College,  $25

5:00 pm                                   Reflections and Reception, Sponsored by the Griot Collective, Elders’ House, 1304 Water Ave., (Free)

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm              Meet the Author Book Signing, Convention Center, 411 Washington St. (details in Jubilee newspaper)

7:00 pm –10:00 pm             Freedom Flame Awards Gala, WWCS, 3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway, $100 (table $800.)

5:30 pm –6:30 pm              Pre-Dinner Reception for those with Gala tickets at Selma Convention Center, 211 Washington St: Entertainment, Wine Sip & Cheese

10:00pm—Until  Old School Blues Show & Dance, Elks Lodge, 4304 Water Av, $10 Foot Soldiers, $20 Gen


7:30 am – 9:30 am            Martin Luther & Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast, WCCS, 3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway–$75 (table $750)

9:00 am—1:00 pm            Emerging Leaders Breakfast, Performing Arts Center, 1000 Selma Ave.

10:00 am – 1:00 am          Sunday Morning Services, Various Churches in Selma

5:00 pm—8:00 pm            Film Festival, Performing Arts Center, 1000 Selma Avenue

10:30 am – 12:00 noon    Induction into Hall of Resistance, AAECW Museum, 1410 Water Ave

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm         Pre-March Rally, Foot of Edmund Pettus Bridge, West/City Side

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm           Bridge Crossing & Backward March, over Edmund Pettus Bridge

3:30 pm – until                  Post March Rally & Salute to Foot Soldiers, Foot of Edmund Pettus Bridge, East Side, AND

BET/ Centric Television Presents

Salute to Selma Concert, with Conductor Dr. Henry Panion III, the GSC Symphony Orchestra and Mass Choir; with special guests Kirk Franklin, Ruben Studdard, Lady Tramaine Hawkins, Virtue, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and more, at the Foot of Edmund Pettus Bridge

5:30  pm – 1st Show          Play: Don’t Count Me Out, Life Change Productions, Callie M. Willis, Writer/Producer, School of

8:00 pm –2nd Show           Discovery, 400 Washington St., $10

7:30 pm —                           Play: Tell the World About This—Lest We Forget: Featuring Martin-Mahalia-The Movement,

Writer/Producer, Rosevivian Powe, LOCATION TBA.


8:00 am                               Selma to Montgomery March departs Edmund Pettus Bridge: ‘Remember, Recommit, Restore”

MONDAY, program at 1st Baptist Church, Selma

THURSDAY–Celebration Rally, Macedonia Church

FRIDAY–Rally at the Alabama State Capitol


11:00 am                            March Starts at Calhoun Food on West Fairview Ave.


HOURS:  March 5-9, 2015, 9:00 am—6:00 pm      ·National Voting Rights Museum & Institute

  • Selma Interpretive Center
  • Lowndes Interpretive Center


Updated: 3/1/15–Schedule subject to change. For up-to-date information, go to the website:


Selma: The Sacredness of “Bloody Sunday” Triumphs!

Below is a copy of the joint statement released by various groups participating in the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965, events related to which include the Commemoration of and Re-Commitment of Bloody Sunday, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the Passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and efforts to restore that law in full, the Bridge Crossing Jubilee and more. All groups are in agreement that only one Bloody Sunday March will take place – on Sunday, March 8, 2015..

Selma50-john-lewis-on-bridge(Selma, AL  February 12, 2015) — Ten major civil rights organizations have united to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches.  We have jointly created more than 40 events for this historic anniversary weekend which include:

  • An address by the President of the United States Barack Obama on Saturday March 7, 2015, the actual anniversary day of Bloody Sunday;
  • The Fruits of the Labor Luncheon on Saturday March 7, 2015, honoring Secretary Julian Castro, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Maxine Waters, Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Richard Hatcher, Mayor Charles Evers;
  • The Living Legends Dialogue on Saturday, March 7, 2015, will feature Diane Nash, Bob Moses, Claudette Colvin, Dr. Bernard Lafayette and the youth leaders of the Black Lives Matter Movement;
  • All day Saturday March 7, 2015, there will be music, story telling and a street festival with national known artist, the freedom singers and Paul from Peter Paul and Mary;
  • The organizations in the unified committee will sponsor one march, the sacred Bloody Sunday re-enactment march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday March 8, 2015;
  • No organizations in the unified committee will sponsor and or participate in any other march.
  • We are also welcoming back to Selma the foot soldiers and leaders of the Voting Rights Movement, including Rep. John Lewis, Amelia  Boynton, Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr.logo Joseph Lowery, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., Dick Gregory and Diane Nash.
We are honored that President Obama will join us in commemorating these 50th Anniversary activities.  The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which organized the original Bloody Sunday march has co-sponsored the commemoration events in Selma with the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute for nearly 40 years.
The unified committee includes the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, Inc., The Faith and Politics Institute, the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, Wallace Community College Selma, 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, The City of Selma, Rep. Terri Sewell, Rep. John Lewis, National Action Network, Rainbow/PUSH.  For more information go to
For more information, contact:
Hank Sanders  
  # # #


Bridge Crossing Jubilee Focuses on Restoring Voting Rights for Bloody Sunday’s 50th Anniversary

from Birmingham View Magazine Online

SELMA50-official10“Remember, Recommit, and Restore” is the 50th Anniversary theme of the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee that hosts an annual pilgrimage to honor the “Bloody Sunday” March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. The 2015 Jubilee features more than 50 events, 40 of them free, in the City of Selma March 5-9.

Thousands of people across the country and the world will descend on Selma to commemorate Bloody Sunday with the  annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday, March 8. They will walk with the remaining foot soldiers of that time from Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. A new generation of civil rights activists and groups who have organized in the wake of high-profile cases such as those involving Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner are expected to join them.

Jubilee planners want to focus attention on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a set of federal protections created as a direct result of Bloody Sunday and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches led by civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as depicted in the movie, “Selma.”

“This year is bittersweet because we love the attention the movie has brought to my city and this annual event,” says Catrena Norris Carter, Executive Director of the Selma to Montgomery 50th Commemoration Foundation, which sponsors the Jubilee. “But the celebration is overshadowed by the reality that our own U.S. Supreme Court recently gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”

“We have to remind the people coming here that our future is not secure unless the protections under the Voting Rights Act are fully restored so that all citizens have full and free access to the polls to elect officials to represent their best interests,” she says. “So we want everyone coming to this year’s Jubilee to remember the past sacrifices that brought us thus far, and to personally recommit to securing the voting rights of every citizen. Write and call your Congressional representative, urging them to fully restore the protections under the Voting Rights Act. Hence, the reason behind our theme this year: Remember, Recommit, and Restore.”

A number of congressional leaders are expected to come to Montgomery and Selma at the request of U.S. Congressman John Lewis and his Faith & Politics Institute, which hosts an annual Congressional Pilgrimage to Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma. Faith & Politics has also invited all the living Presidents to attend, including the sitting President, Barack Obama.

Selma-50-logo-(big)President Obama is expected to appear in Selma on Saturday, March 7, the actual anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March that Lewis, then a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, led with Hosea Williams and other members of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Other civil rights organizations recently announced joint efforts to ensure unity in the commemoration of Bloody Sunday on Sunday, March 8.

While they are here, Carter says, the Jubilee organizers and state activists hope to impress upon the congressional leaders the urgency to properly amend the gutted Voting Rights Act, per the Supreme Court’s directives, and put Alabama back under federal oversight.

“While we have overcome in so many ways, the last few years have shown us that we still have a long way to go,” Carter says. “The uprising in Ferguson over the death of Michael Brown and in New York over the death of Eric Garner underscore built up tensions over covert racism that still infects too much of our society. The vote is a powerful tool to help combat problems like miscarriages of justice. The movie Selma shows how, once people got the right to vote, they put Jim Clark with his racist leadership, out of office.

“Younger generations must be re-educated about the story of Selma, that the fight then wasn’t easy nor without sacrifice. But like those leaders then, they have the power to make the change they want to see. Change may not come as fast as they want, but it will come as long as they remember they are part of a grand, long-term Freedom Movement for justice.”

freedom flame awards 2015Jubilee events include the Freedom Flame Awards, which honors civil rights soldiers of the past. This year’s honorees include Harry Belafonte, Amelia Boynton-Robinson, Dr. Dorothy Cotton, Dick Gregory, Delores Huerta, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., John Jackson, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA).

Several Jubilee events also promote today’s generations of leaders.

The Turn Up Youth Summit on March 7 features an extraordinary group of nationally and internationally-renowned young leaders, paired with veterans of the voting rights movement who share their knowledge and experiences with youth who know little about the Freedom Movement that opened doors of opportunity for their generation. The lessons shared focus on how the struggle for voting rights and the importance of participating in our electoral process can alleviate the problems young America is currently facing.

Youth panelists include: Jonathan Lewis of the Positive Peace Youth Network (a national nonviolence organization), who is the protege’ of historic civil rights leader Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); Marypat Hector, National Youth Director of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; Cierra Taylor, Political Director for the Dream Defenders, a Florida-based activist organization that grew out of the Trayvon Martin murder case; Jamira Burley,  Executive Director of the City of Philadelphia Youth Commission; and Jeremy Ponds, Youth Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Adult panelists include Martin Luther King, III, eldest child of the civil rights icon, and David Turnley– Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist and former personal photographer and advisor to Nelson Mandela during his presidency. Turnley is the author of Mandela! Struggle & Triumph.

The Emerging ChangeMakers Network is hosting its 10th annual Selma Leadership Summit 2015 on March 7 with a discussion, “Are We Moving Forward or Standing Still?” and the annual prayer brunch on March 8 with the theme “The Resurgence, Re-Imagination and Reward of Young Voices.”

On Sunday, March 8, the Jubilee ends after the annual bridge crossing with the “All-Star Salute to Selma” concert featuring some of the top names in gospel and R&B music. Renowned conductor Dr. Henry Panion III will lead his symphony orchestra and 1,000-voice choir to accompany the likes of Kirk Franklin, Ruben Studdard, Lady Tramaine Hawkins, Sounds of Blackness, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Richard Smallwood and more. In addition to the confirmations already received, other artists including The Clark Sisters, Fantasia, Kenny Lattimore, Bobby Brown and Mary J. Blige are trying to work out their schedules to appear.

More names are expected to be added to the list, as many celebrities want to be a part of the special celebration, including Quincy Jones III, Earth Wind & Fire, and Frankie Beverly & Maze. Panion hopes that his friend, Stevie Wonder, might also make a special appearance.

Download the most recent list of Jubilee events HERE.

For complete information about #Selma50 events during the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, visit the website


About the Bridge Crossing Jubilee

Selma50-john-lewis-on-bridgeThis annual event in Selma, Alabama, commemorates “Bloody Sunday,” which occurred March 7, 1965, when a group of about 525 African American demonstrators gathered at Browns Chapel to demand the right to vote.

They walked six blocks to Broad Street, then across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they were met by more than 50 state troopers and a few dozen militiamen on horseback. When the demonstrators refused to turn back, they were brutally beaten. At least 17 were hospitalized, and 40 others received treatment for injuries and the effects of tear gas.

The attack, which was broadcast on national television, caught the attention of millions of Americans and became a symbol of the brutal racism of the South. Two weeks later, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 3,200 civil rights protesters marched the 49 miles from Selma to the state capital, Montgomery, where they held a large rally on the steps of the Capitol Building where the Confederacy was born.

These events prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Every year on the first weekend in March, the Bridge Crossing Jubilee commemorates both the bloody confrontation at the Pettus Bridge and the march from Selma to Montgomery that followed. Events include a parade, a Miss Jubilee Pageant, a mock trial, and a commemorative march to the bridge. Every five years, celebrants continue all the way to Montgomery.


About the Weakened Voting Rights Act of 1965

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made a devastating ruling in a lawsuit filed in Shelby County — part of the Birmingham, AL, metropolitan area — that challenged the pre-clearance provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Shelby County officials redrew the district lines of a black county commissioner, who lost his seat in a subsequent election. The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said the officials needed federal pre-approval to make changes that diluted the voting power of the black citizens in the district.

In June 2013, the Supreme Court justices in 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder ruled that the pre-clearance provision was outdated after 50 years and unfair to jurisdictions that had to prove any election changes were not discriminatory. Because the majority decided that the provision was unconstitutional, it was therefore legally unenforceable.

Immediately after the decision, several states, particularly North Carolina, instituted some of the strictest voter ID laws in the country. Critics called the laws bold and blatant attempts to suppress voting rights of minorities, students and the elderly who tended to support progressive policies.

To this date, Congress has not adopted any remedies that fully restore the protections that were guaranteed under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.