Bloody Sunday Re-Visited: A New Launching Point
It’s Monday, the day after the weekend commemoration of the Bloody Sunday 50th Anniversary in Selma, Alabama. Most of us over the age of 45 remember the historical framework where police beat back and tear gassed marchers attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in route to Montgomery in March of 1965. This was the tipping point for the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and a springboard of hope for Black Americans across this land that an America for all its people would soon follow.
I have heard people talk of the power and wonder of the speech by President Obama or the passion of Georgia congressman John Lewis and the fiery church sermon by Reverend Al Sharpton. I have listened to others speak of the emotion, commitment, and patience of the tens of thousands that made the pilgrimage to the historic bridge site and stayed despite the city not being fully equip to accommodate them. I applaud all who journeyed there, a spectrum of ages and members of various races and ethnic groups.
But what of the city of Selma? What happens once the celebration stops in this city of roughly 20,500 people, with a Black population of approximately79%? A place with an unemployment rate of 12%, where 39.7% of the households make less than $15,000, and job growth is -3.14%. How do we make their lives better once the music and speeches end? What is the economic impact of the past weekend in the Selma’s Black community? It is long past time for something to happen in Selma the heart of the BLACKBELT.
I have read quotes of a number of attendees and dignitaries saying that we have made progress and come long way, but we still have more to do. If we truly believe that quote, let’s do something about the city of Selma. We can start by making Selma, a sacred city in the annals of the Black history and the Civil Rights Movement, a better place to live by working to enhance the city’s economic vitality ensuring good jobs for all those that need them. We don’t have to wait on the city, the state of Alabama, or the U.S. government. The Black community has the economic capacity and “no-how” to initiate projects in and around the city of Selma. We can work to make education alternatives better for the young people of the city by applying best practices. No one should be satisfied with current state of affairs.
We have long demonstrated the sociology for self-help throughout our history and now we need simply to recall our past and execute. So let the 50th Anniversary be a new launching point for action to transform Selma, it’s the best way to build on the events and heroes of the past.