Senate Sketches #1396 - March 11, 2014
The Jubilee is upon us. Jubilee is the Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which celebrates and memorializes the Struggle for the Right to Vote. Jubilee is the only commemoration of events that took place during the Civil Rights Movement that takes place every year. This is the 49th year since Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery March, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and other pivotal voting rights events that changed the course of American History.
There are nearly 50 events over four days. I want to share a little about several events just to give you a flavor of Jubilee as I interacted.
1. Jubilee officially started on Thursday with four events. The biggest was the Mass Meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church. Dr. William Barber of Moral Monday in North Carolina spoke brilliantly and passionately. It was a powerful experience for all in attendance. I made remarks concerning the Freedom Riders Caravan from Alabama to Washington, D.C. I also made remarks at the City of Selma Reception. I did not attend the play, Jimmie Lee, nor did I make the Teaching of History event in Perry County with world-famous historian Tony Browder.
2. Jubilee continued on Friday. The major event for me on this day was the Jubilee Mock Trial on the issue of whether the State of Alabama was really responsible for Jimmie Lee Jackson’s death in 1965. I helped prepare for the Mock Trial but did not serve as one of the attorneys as I often do. The Mock trial was carried on Sirius XM Radio Channel 127, which goes all over the world. There were many other events including the induction of Chokwe Lumumba and C.B. King into the Legal Guardians Hall of Fame. Chokwe, who became Mayor of Jackson, MS, died several weeks ago. I also attended Public Conversation, which was also broadcast all over the world. I popped in and out of other events.
3. Jubilee Saturday provided numerous events including the Jubilee Parade, where a long line of floats and processional participants drew many thousands of spectators lining the streets. The Jubilee Festival was dynamic with the music, dance, vendors and storytelling, which I visited briefly for some exotic food. I also attended the Foot Soldier’s Breakfast, which is very special for me because it honors people who contributed greatly but are often left unknown. I was a panelist on two workshops and participated in several others. I also brought greetings at the Women’s Hall of Fame Induction, and I attended the Freedom Flame Awards where I made remarks.
4. Jubilee Sunday opened with the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast. The speakers included Lou Gossett, Jr. of Roots and Academy Award fame, Eliseo Medina of SEIU, Rev. Jesse Jackson of Rainbow PUSH, Martin L. King, III, Rev. William Barber, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Jerria Martin of 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and others. I did the occasion and helped present the National Unity Award to Dr. Joseph Lowery for a lifetime of service in bringing people together across lines of differences. His family accepted the award in his absence. I also brought greetings at the Brown Chapel Church service, where many of the dignitaries gathered.
5. Jubilee Sunday continued with the Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Many thousands participated. There were too many great speakers to name. Then there was the very moving play about Evelyn Lowery who died recently and another play by Ayanna Gregory, daughter of Civil Rights Activist Dick Gregory. It was a truly powerful one-woman show.
6. Finally, there was the Freedom Riders Caravan, which left Selma on Monday. The first rally was in Montgomery at the State Capitol. We will rally at state capitols in Atlanta, GA, Columbia, SC, Raleigh, NC and Richmond, VA. Then we go to Washington, D.C. for a rally at the U. S. Supreme Court. I talked myself into going in spite of all I had to do. The U.S. Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. We are working to put the guts back into the Voting Rights Act.
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee certainly celebrates and memorializes the Voting Rights Struggle. But it does more: it educates and informs; it forges commitment; and it moves us to action.
Now on to the Daily Dairy.
Saturday, March 1, 2014 – I walked, handled many matters, participated in an Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) Board meeting by phone, spoke at the Tabernacle Baptist Church Historic Markers Dedication, participated in a conference call in preparation for the Jubilee Mock Trial and worked into the night. Every day this week I worked on the Jubilee. I communicated with the following: Edwin Ellis and Franklin Fortier of Selma; Elouise Robinson of Baldwin County; Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS) President Dr. James Mitchell; Tabernacle Baptist Church Pastor Otis Dion Culliver; Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Pastor Rev. L. L. Ruffin; and Dr. Carol P. Zippert of Greene County.
Sunday – I walked and did Radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy and Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard. I participated in Sunday School and Sunday Services. I discussed various issues over Sunday Dinner with Dr. Fannie McKenzie and Bobby McKenzie of Selma. I communicated with many leaders and watched some of the Oscars to see if Twelve Years a Slave won Best Picture. I was touched by Lupita Nyong’o.
Monday – Rain prevented me from walking so I was at my office by 5:30 a.m. I handled many matters and worked deep into the night. I communicated with the following: Ruby Wharton, First Lady of Memphis, TN; Perry County Businessman Elijah Rollins; Gus Townes of Montgomery; Deputy State School Superintendent Dr. Craig Pouncey; Frank Barragan of AJIC; Sharon Wheeler of the Alabama Education Association (AEA); Felecia Pettway of WCCS; Gloria Pompey, Sam Walker and Sherry Mitchell of Selma; Lowndes County Administrator Jackie Thomas; Nichole Francis , Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Terri Sewell; Kim Bradshaw of Alabama; Lowndes County Bankers Dorothy Hulett and Frank Kummel; Maggie Willis of Huntsville; and Holly Caraway of the Senate Minority Leader Office. I worked deep into the night
Tuesday – I walked, facilitated a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting, traveled to Montgomery for a meeting, a press conference, a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting, a Senate Session which went into the night, several conference calls and returned to Selma. I worked into the night. I communicated with the following: Ron Buford and Quinten Riggins of Alabama Power Company; Senator Marc Keahey; Representative John Knight; John Teague and Tami Teague of Montgomery; Josh Hayes of Tuscaloosa; Dr. Henry Mabry of AEA; Alecha Irby of Miles College; former Senator Zeb Little; Jena Dearborn of Montgomery; Dr. Gale Slachtel of Montgomery; Captain Keith Jackson of Alabama State Troopers; Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford; Mattie Atkins of Greene County; Rev. Hugh Morris of the NAACP; Mary Pons of Association of County Commissioners of Alabama (ACCA); Yvonne Lowery Kennedy of Birmingham; Quenella Lane of Lowndes County whose daughter died; Greene County School Superintendent Dr. Emma Louie; Obie Ebuna of Washington, D. C.; Khadijah Ishaq of Selma; Associated Press Reporter Phil Rawls; and Malika Fortier of Selma.
Wednesday – I walked, handled many matters, traveled to Montgomery for Senate Committee meetings, had lunch with Joyce Bigbee, participated in a Senate Session and returned to Selma. I communicated with the following: Senator Vivian Davis Figures; Senator Linda Coleman; Senator Patricia Dunn; Connie Brown of Greene County; Lindsey McKenzie of Alabama; Senator Tammy Irons; Senator Billy Beasley; Alexander Rodriguez of the Cuban Section; Sally Owen Gowan of Montgomery; Tami Teague of Montgomery; Wendy Williams of Corrections; Fort Deposit Mayor Fletcher Fountain; Ralph Paige and Heather Gray of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (the Federation); Hester Brown of Greene County; Annie Pearl Avery of the National Voting Rights Museum (NVRM); and Jerria Martin of Twenty First Century Youth Leadership Movement (21C).
Thursday – I walked, handled various matters, traveled to Montgomery for a Senate Session and various meetings and returned to Selma for a series of Jubilee events. I communicated with the following: Senator Bobby Singleton; Senator Quinton Ross; Senator Rodger Smitherman; Senator Roger Bedford; a large group of Alabama State University Students; K. C. Bailey of Boston; Attorney Theron Stokes of AEA; Rev. F.D. Reese of Selma; Tony Browder of Washington, D. C.; and Rev. William Barber of North Carolina Moral Monday.
Friday – I walked, handled various matters, traveled to Lowndes County, returned to Selma and among other things, participated in a Legal Guardian Induction, a Jubilee Mock Trial and a Public Conversation. I communicated with the following: Dr. Daniel Boyd and Yvette Patterson of the Lowndes County School System; Sharon Wheeler of AEA; Zeb Little of Cullman; Josh Hayes of Tuscaloosa; April England- Albright of Atlanta; and Martha Morgan and Dr. Rhoda of Tuscaloosa. I attended events late into the night.
EPILOGUE – Every now and then, one event becomes a unique blend of celebration, memorialization, commitment, strategic planning and movement building. The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is such an event.