51st Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma
Last year marked the 50th Anniversary of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, attended by crowds of over 70,000, according to USA Today. While this year's commemoration didn't have nearly the massive amount of marchers, its spirit was still one of remembrance and honor.
Along our route, it was almost impossible to ignore the significance of the journey as weeping willows practically swept us along the way.
Once we (my sister, my daughter, and I) arrived, hundreds of people were already in festive mood, shopping and visiting vendors with a variety of goods from handbags to jewelry, t-shirts to paintings, even calendars and souvenirs. Even more were already lined up in preparation for the march across.
Admittedly, last year was my first to attend the commemoration of Bloody Sunday, and I made the comment then that Selma was too close for me to have never attended. So, I went. During that weekend, a friend of mine who'd gone for numerous years asked what was so significant about it being the 50th. He said that the significance of the event held the same magnitude as it had every year beforehand. I made the decision then that the 50th anniversary would not be my only time, and I made sure it wasn't.
At one point, we crossed the street, and I heard our names being called. My first thought was, "With all of these people, HOW could we stand out like that; and WHO knows us out here?" I looked back and saw Miss Black Alabama 2016 Shai Wilkins waving at us as she stood along the front line with Rep. John Lewis and other notables.
We weren't able to take a picture together, but it was still nice to see someone carrying such a title being involved in community events.
In all, it was a great opportunity to share with my daughter. She's asking a lot more questions at her current age, and in answering them, I'm becoming more aware myself. For instance, I asked her if she wanted to go to Selma with me or spend the day with her cousins. She asked me why I was going to Selma. I asked her if she remembered when we went to vote last week. She said she did. I told her that what we were doing was saying who we wanted to make decisions that would effect the way we live and that 51 years ago, black people couldn't vote. I told her in a way she could understand that those people endured a lot and sometimes even died so we would be able to even decide who we wanted to make decisions for us. At that point, it wasn't even a matter of us being able to run for office and represent ourselves but simply who we thought would best represent us.
The part that really hit home for me, though, was when my 5-year-old said, "FIFTY years ago?" It was as if that was such a long time ago in her small mind. And my immediate response was, "Yes, like when Grand (my mom) was a little girl. Back then, Mama Lula and Poppa B couldn't vote." I stopped talking for a moment and just thought about that. There was a point in time where my grandparents could not vote, which means we aren't so far removed from that time. Those who lived during that time might not be as physically fit as they were back then, but as long as I am, I'll be doing what I can to honor those who paved the way, and I'll be voting in honor of those who wanted to but couldn't.