Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign

By The Living Legacy Project

Funding Successful. This project reached its goal before December 18, 2014.

  • $6,300

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This project will only be funded if at least $5,000 is pledged by December 18, 2014.

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In early 1965, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference appealed to people across the United States to join the struggle for voting rights in Selma. Many Unitarian Universalists answered the call, including UUA President Dana Greeley and members of the UUA Board of Trustees. Fifty years later, March 5-8, 2015, Unitarian Universalists are gathering with others from around the globe for a significant civic, political, and interfaith commemoration of Bloody Sunday and celebration of the Selma to Montgomery March and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Thousands of people will converge on Selma, Alabama, March 2015, to participate in the 50th Anniversary Bridge Crossing. The Living Legacy Project, in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham and the Unitarian Universalist Association, is inviting Unitarian Universalists to Selma to honor James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, and Jimmie Lee Jackson, and to reflect with one another on what their courage and sacrifice, and the courage and sacrifice of countless others, requires of us today.

Our goal is to host an event, in collaboration with, and in support of, the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee (the Selma consortium that sponsors the annual bridge crossing), which will involve at least 400 Unitarian Universalists from Alabama and around the country in a range of events and activities surrounding the 50th anniversary (a thousand or more UU’s are expected to participate in some aspects of the weekend). We are planning a variety of programming in Selma, Birmingham, and Montgomery. This includes:

  • Offering a stellar conference, including prominent keynote speakers, timely workshops, and inspiring musical performances to highlight the reality of the events in and around Selma in 1965, and linking this history to today’s issues of voter suppression, immigration, and mass incarceration
  • Honoring the martyrs of the Selma campaign, Jimmie Lee Jackson of Marion, and Unitarian Universalists, James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo, as well as their respective families (who’ve been invited to participate in the events)
  • Recognizing the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham for their incredible ministry during the most intense activity in and around Selma in 1965, including feeding, housing, and transporting over 250 Unitarian Universalists who responded to Dr. King’s call to come to Selma
  • Honoring the local people in Selma and related communities who were the heart and soul of the costly efforts to roll back oppression, gain their rights, and build beloved community
Mural at the site of the murder of James Reeb in Selma

Mural at the site of the murder of James Reeb in Selma

Schedule for Marching in the Arc of Justice (subject to change)

March 5, 2015                  Gather in Birmingham and travel to Selma for Mass Meeting and Commemoration

March 6 and 7, 2015        Marching in the Arc of Justice Conference: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going

March 8, 2015                  Travel to Selma to participate in the re-enactment of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Whether or not you can physically travel to Selma in March, 2015, you can still be a part of this historic event. You can help someone else share in this important commemoration, you can provide your support to the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, and you can help assure that we can provide a quality program that inspires and motivates all who are there to continue the struggle for justice.

How will the money raised in Faithify be used?

The Unitarian Universalist Funding Panel has provided the Living Legacy Project with a grant, which includes a $5,000 matching grant. We need your help to raise and greatly exceed this match so we can:

  • Provide scholarships to those without financial resources to attend, including veterans of the Voting Rights Movement, family members of those who served in The Movement, youth, and young adults,
  • Honor James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, and Jimmie Lee Jackson and their families
  • Support the people of Selma as they mark this historic event in their city’s history through a significant donation to the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee
  • Offer a high-quality conference at minimal cost to all participants
  • Bring in musicians who can make the empowering and life-sustaining music of the Movement come to life for participants
  • Hire a videographer and documentary filmmaker consultant to document the 50th anniversary conference

Honor those who inspire you

We invite you to give a donation in honor of/in memory of someone who works or who worked for justice, whose commitment to Beloved Community, to human rights and dignity, has inspired you to keep moving even when you have lost hope. It is through remembering that we keep moving forward. After you give, please use the Comments section at the bottom of project’s page to tell us how that person has influenced you. We also encourage you to share your donation on Facebook and other social media to lift up that person’s gift to you.

 What is the Living Legacy Project?

The Living Legacy Project (LLP) grew out of the Reverend Gordon Gibson’s and his spouse, Judy Gibson’s, passion for sharing the Civil Rights Movement story. Recognizing the importance of not only capturing this story and our Unitarian Universalist role in it, but of understanding what this story teaches us about the continued work that still needs to be done, the Reverend Hope Johnson, Janice Marie Johnson, and Annette Marquis formed a partnership with the Gibsons, to establish the Living Legacy Project. In November of 2013, the founding members, along with singer/songwriter Reggie Harris, formed the Living Legacy Project Board, with a goal of developing long-range sustainability in service of its mission.

2014 LLP Board

The 2014 Living Legacy Project Board:
The Rev. Hope Johnson, President; Reggie Harris, Music Director; Annette Marquis, Treasurer;
Janice Marie Johnson, Member; Gordon Gibson, Member

The Living Legacy Pilgrimage, a seven-to-ten-day bus trip through the South to understand the civil rights journey, is one of several opportunities that we offer.

The Marching in the Arc of Justice Planning Committee includes the members of the Living Legacy Project Board, The Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, Reggie Harris, Annette Marquis, Dr. Janice Marie Johnson, and the Rev. Dr. Gordon Gibson, plus the Rev. James Hobart, Movement veteran,  Virginia Volker, UU Church of Birmingham representative,  Judy Gibson, LLP volunteer and co-founder of the LLP, Jan Sneegas, General Assembly and Conference Services Director, and Julian Sharpe, liaison to the UUA Board of Trustees.

How does your project claim Unitarian Universalism?

Selma is an integral part of Unitarian Universalist history. The Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed, author of The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism writes, “Selma represented a turning point for Unitarian Universalists. In answering Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to action, they shifted from passing earnest resolutions about racial justice to putting their lives on the line for the cause.” The Living Legacy Project tells the stories of Unitarian Universalists who, as partners to the African-Americans who led the Voting Rights Movement, witnessed for, and even died, to assure voting rights for all people in this country. Unitarian Universalists played a key role in answering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to come to Selma. This 50th anniversary conference, Marching in the Arc of Justice, plans to lift up the stories of UUs who went in Selma, the congregations that supported them, and how we can honor their legacies by engaging in today’s struggle for voting, human, and civil rights.

How is your project claimed by Unitarian Universalism?

Although an interfaith organization, the Living Legacy Project, who is planning the conference, has close ties with Unitarian Universalism. Its current board is comprised of two UU ministers and two UUA staff members, and the conference planning team, includes another UU minister, and a leader of the UU Church of Birmingham, AL, who is a primary partner in the conference. The UUA Board of Trustees, in honor of the actions of the UUA Board of 1965 that adjourned their Spring meeting to march in Selma, has voted to hold their Spring 2015 meeting in Selma, so that they can attend the conference and participate in the related events.

Endorsements
Jim Key, Moderator of the UUA

Jim Key, Moderator of the UUA

“I am pleased to endorse this Faithify campaign to raise funds to support the Living Legacy Project’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.  Having participated in a Living Legacy Pilgrimage in 2009 that included a visit to Selma, I have experienced the transforming power of hearing firsthand from the foot soldiers of the Movement.  I am delighted that funds raised will go to provide scholarships so that veterans of the Movement, youth of today and others can bear witness as thousands gather to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 8, 2015.  I encourage you to make a donation.  And I look forward to seeing on the Bridge.

UUA Moderator Jim Key

 

He died . .  . . but we must do a harder thing than dying is; we must think, and ghosts will drive us on.     

– quote from cover of the liberal context, Spring 1965 *

Fifty years ago those words were chosen to memorialize James Reeb, and to remind us that the struggle for which he, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo, and so many others gave their lives is a never ending struggle – for voting rights, human dignity, and social justice.  Their ghosts will drive us on.  

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Only recently have we begun to think about the actions of our founding fathers, our frontier heroes, and numerous government agents – including Presidents – who over a period of more than two centuries attempted racial cleansing via genocide against America’s indigenous peoples (Indian, Mexican, Inuit).  

Today, you and I must think deeply about how seldom we afford the survivors of those well documented actions the human dignity and social justice which is their right.

We have only to think of the consequences of our U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision which has trampled underfoot the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 – at the very moment that Latinos have begun their own vigorous struggle for voting rights and social justice.   

 . . . and ghosts will drive us on. 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *   

“Marching in the Arc of Justice” – a Unitarian Universalist conference will be held next March 5-8 in Birmingham, Alabama. It is imperative that today’s younger UU’s be given opportunity to join there with “Selma veterans” – to think deeply on the role we played in Selma, and the role we now must play in support of all those engaged in these ongoing struggles.  We must enable our children and their children to visit Selma -to experience first-hand the joining of hands with other groups – in a 2015 crossing of the bridge to commemorate the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery – and then to continue Marching in the Arc of Justice.

That so many UU ministers were able to answer Martin Luther King Jr’s call to Selma in 1965 was due to the many individuals and groups who underwrote their travel costs.  I invite you to join with me in helping to underwrite the costs of “Marching in the Arc of Justice,” and most especially to subsidize the participation of younger generations.  We, too, will die . . . but we must do a harder thing than dying is – we must think, and ghosts will drive us on.

Orloff W Miller 

* campus magazine published by UUA Office of College Centers and Student Religious Liberals. That issue contained some of the first eyewitness articles on UU’s in Selma and the death of James Reeb – all prior to subsequent passage of Voting Rights Act of 1965. The quote is a paraphrase of lines from Hermann Hagedorn’s The Boy in Armor.

Project Partners

Project partners include the UU Church of Birmingham, the Unitarian Universalist Association (including the UU Funding Program), and the UUA Board of Trustees.

Partner Congregation
None
Other Partner
None
Covenantal Relationship

UU Church of Birmingham (UUCB) was an active social justice congregation during the civil/voting rights movement. As the closest UU congregation to Selma, UUCB offered hospitality, transportation, food, and attended to many other needs of the UU ministers who answered Dr. King’s call to come to Selma. As UUCB commemorates its history in the Movement, UUCB has generously offered to work with the LLP to assure that the 50th anniversary event is memorable for all who participate in it.

Project Service Area
AL

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Funders

  1. Robert Beekman
    $20
  2. Anonymous
    $200
  3. Jessica Curren
    $50
  4. Lettice Stuart
    $50
  5. Sarah Stewart
    $100
  6. Reginald Harris
    $100
  7. Eleanor Morse
    $15
  8. Karen Quinlan
    $20
  9. Harlan Limpert
    $100
  10. Susan Weaver
    $500
  11. Rita Sparks
    $50
  12. Joe Knott
    $50
  13. Virginia Volker
    $50
  14. Peter Morales
    $100
  15. James Snell
    $200
  16. James Key
    $100
  17. Bob Dyck
    $50
  18. Julian Sharp
    $100
  19. Andy Reese
    $100
  20. Yvonne Thompson
    $25
  21. Tom Schade
    $50
  22. Alan Kindler
    $25
  23. Lorryn Kinkaid
    $20
  24. Chris Mohn
    $50
  25. Matt Meyer
    $25
  26. Nancy Berggren
    $40
  27. Timothy Brennan
    $50
  28. Mary Gardner
    $100
  29. Kathy Sands-Boehmer
    $10
  30. Ila Klion
    $10
  31. Suzann Willhite
    $100
  32. Social Justice & Action Committee
    $100
  33. Peter Woodbury
    $100
  34. Carol Huston
    $25
  35. Mark Ward
    $300
  36. Meghan Moore
    $50
  37. Robin Roysdon
    $100
  38. Ramanujachary Kumanduri
    $100
  39. Denise German
    $50
  40. Richard Leonard
    $200
  41. Lawrence Ladd
    $200
  42. Denise Davidoff
    $50
  43. Maureen Killoran
    $100
  44. Ann Willever
    $100
  45. Neil Shadle
    $100
  46. Seth Fisher
    $10
  47. Pamela Rumancik
    $50
  48. Annette Marquis
    $100
  49. Janiece Sneegas
    $100
  50. Benjamin Moore
    $50
  51. Joe Sullivan
    $30
  52. Christine Purcell
    Christine Purcell
    $50
  53. Clark Olsen
    $100
  54. Greg Greenway
    $100
  55. Anonymous
    $100
  56. Jo Moore
    $100
  57. William King
    $50
  58. Wendy Burtner-Owens
    $25
  59. meme pittman
    $200
  60. Orloff W
    $50
  61. James Hobart
    $200
  62. Nan White
    $100
  63. Janice Marie
    $50
  64. Joan Cudhea
    $50
  65. Diana Weaving
    $50
  66. Sue Redfern-Campbell
    $50
  67. Shirley Gibson
    $200
  68. Wendy DeGroat
    $50
  69. Hope Johnson
    $50
  70. Gordon Gibson
    $50
  71. Judith Gibson
    $50
  72. Anonymous
    $250

This Project has ended. No more pledges can be made.