My Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Experience was Amazing
Like many others, I took part in this year's Bridge Crossing Jubilee festivities in Selma, AL. In as much as I'd learned the historical significance of Bloody Sunday during Alabama History classes, I am far removed from the 4th grade (when I learned about it). So, some of what I'd learned had been long forgotten. But as an adult, I've regained interest in Black history and the fight for civil rights. If the movie "Selma" had never been made, and if this year was not the 50th commemoration, I'd already purposed myself last year to attend this year's festivities. I'm so glad I did.
For starters, Pastor Tyshawn Gardner and the Plum Grove Missionary Baptist Church were very hospitable (as they always are) in allowing my family to travel with them and to utilize the favor that they'd been given. We all traveled to Selma together and arrived at the Black Belt Community Center, where we obtained suitable parking and meals had been prepared for us. There, we also received t-shirts to signify that we were all one group, and we walked a few blocks to Brown Chapel AME Church.
We stood outside among the masses and listened to the church service going on inside as the audio blared over speakers outside, and Pastor Cedric Hatcher (made famous from his recent address of the Birmingham city council concerning gay marriage) gave an impromptu sermon.
Once the church service was over, the notables inside came out and began the trek to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We followed suit. I can't even begin to describe just how much I was in awe when we turned a corner onto Broad Street and I saw an amazing sea of people already on the bridge and in the street headed to the bridge.
For a long time, it seemed like we were just inching along. At others, we were at a standstill. Luckily, during the times it seemed we weren't moving much, there was a huge monitor showing a documentary about Bloody Sunday.
Oddly, just as I approached the beginning of the bridge, I decided I was too frustrated to continue, and I made my way to the side. I stood in one place for a few minutes before deciding to venture down the street to see what the vendors were selling. I walked for a few minutes before returning to the beginning of the bridge, where I noticed the streets were clearing. At this point, I decided to go across.
While crossing the bridge, you could feel the air of The Movement. There was a unity that rested upon the participants that made even those that may have been a bit impatient or claustrophobic maintain their composure. As we crossed the bridge, we could hear the early part of BET Centric's concert and saw that a great number of those who'd crossed the bridge stayed on the other side for the concert.
We decided not to stay, though. As much we made our return trip, we came upon a 90-year-old. She said she was among the masses at Bloody Sunday. I had my mom to take a picture of her and my daughter to show the age difference of those who walked together (although my brother was there with his 7-month-old). Ms. Corine Crayton was thrilled to take the picture.
As we continued to return from the opposite side, a gentleman walked upon us. I looked and joked with my sister and cousin. "That dude looks just like Eric Benet!" Then, I remembered he was supposed to be at the concert, and I was like, "That IS Eric Benet!" So, I ran ahead and turned around to catch him coming towards the peak of the bridge. As he approached, I heard him say, "Wow" while reading Edmund Pettis Bridge. He then turned around to return to the concert while we continued in the direction of our vehicles.
Of course, we had to make a few stops along the way, for the sake of the vendors. Then, we grabbed a quick bite before returning to our vehicles and heading home. I'm ashamed to admit that this was my first time attending Selma's Bridge Crossing Jubilee, but it definitely won't be my last!