By WVUA 23 Web Writer Marcelle Peters
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is commemorating the 52nd Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with a week of events.
On March 7, 1965, hundreds of people marched from Selma to Montgomery fighting for voting rights. While marching, they were blocked and ordered to turn around. When the protesters refused, they were beaten and tear gassed.
Every year the Bridge Crossing Jubilee hosts the event in remembrance of those who participated in the march, now known as Bloody Sunday.
From March 2-5 there will be over 40 events, including the 20th Miss Jubilee Pageant, a celebrity basketball game, a parade, concerts and more. At least 30 of the events are free.
The commemoration will conclude on Sunday, March 5 with a reenactment of the Bloody Sunday March starting from Brown Chapel and over Edmund Pettus Bridge. Thousands of people are expected to participate.
But Selma Mayor Darrio Melton said the city can’t afford to sponsor the events and gave event organizers a bill of more than $23,000 to pay in advance to cover police department, fire department and other city services.
Alabama Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma), said in a Feb. 22. press conference that this is an effort to stop the march.
“Selma paid for the right to march with blood in 1965,” Sanders said. “We will not pay to march in 2017.”
In a pre-recorded live stream released on the city website Feb 23., Melton addressed the citizen’s concerns over 2017 Jubilee.
“Public safety is paramount,” Melton said. “We ask organizations who want to have events on our streets to make sure they partner with the city to make sure they can provide those services that are so desperately needed for events like this.”
Past attendees have included Rosa Parks, Former President Barack Obama, and Rev. Jesse Jackson and Drew Barrymore.
A complete schedule of events can be found here.