With the gray clouds and misting rain covering the sky, and the smell of barbecue and low throb of old R&B classics along Water Avenue to draw people out for the 59th Anniversary Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, a large crowd came out to participate. The weeklong event, commemorating the March 7, 1965, attack on 600 voting rights marchers, culminated March 3 with a speech from Vice President Kamala Harris before she led thousands on a march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge over the Alabama River.  

The Sunday morning started with a Unity Breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King followed by Sunday morning services held by various churches throughout Selma. Art shows were set up before the pre march rally leading to the March of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 

During Vice President Harris speech she spoke on the international front, calling for a temporary cease-fire in Gaza and more delivery of aid to the war-stricken territory. 

Also in attendance was Southern Poverty Law Center President and CEO Margaret Huang, who led the SPLC’s delegation at the bridge crossing, and remembering the important history while marking the 59th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. The march across the bridge and the surrounding events honored. There were several groups in attendance focused on helping families rebuild their community after years of economic decline that has dogged the largely rural Black Belt region. 

But for many that attended the march in Selma today, the struggle is not only for voting rights but day-to-day survival. On March 2, the SPLC’s Alabama State Office staff presented a discussion on growing the economy in Selma, especially in the wake of the tornado that tore through the town last year and economic revitalization is the catalyst for helping small rural towns like Selma recover after natural disasters. However, it takes public and private investments. The Alabama Avenue project, which is the focus of Saturday’s workshop, is the first block in a phased project over the next seven to 10 years. They are coming together to spur business development, repair public works infrastructure and develop plans to create new businesses and jobs to revitalize Selma with the program which is titled “Restoring Hope: Igniting Selma’s Economic Development One Block at a Time.” Panelists from the SPLC and Torin Brazzle, who founded Ignite Alabama, a nonprofit which is dedicated to enhancing economic opportunities for minority communities are focused on a planned, street-by-street approach to redeveloping Selma’s infrastructure and economy. 

As the day drew to a close people joined together for food and fellowship.