Focus Policy Blog

Bridge Crossing iv

Selma and Her Sister Cities 51 Years Later

On March 4, 2016, the Joint Center will travel to Selma, Alabama and meet with Selma Mayor George Evans and dozens of mayors from neighboring rural cities and towns to work on expanding economic opportunity and the quality of life for communities of color in the South.

The weekend will commemorate the 51st anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” a powerful display of civil disobedience in Selma that captured international attention and ultimately galvanized our elected leaders into passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

During a past trip to Selma, we met with mayors of small Southern cities and towns that ranged in population from about 300 to 20,000 people, and were largely African-American.  We talked about their unique challenges, such as ensuring that state officials allocate to all towns a fair proportion of federal dollars (regardless of the race or voting patterns of residents), expensive grant application requirements that apply to small towns but not to larger cities, decaying/inadequate infrastructure (including limited Internet access), sanitation issues, and extreme poverty.

This year, the Joint Center will work with these mayors on addressing some of the challenges they face.  Our sessions will be a part of the 51st Anniversary Selma Bridge Crossing Celebration’s Business Empowerment Symposium (click here for more info), organized by Mayor Evans and the Selma City Council.