There is a nexus of the past and the present and the future. The past is very important. The present is extremely important. The future is critically important. Each is separate, and yet all are tied together. The nexus of past and the present and the future binds us together.
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is just two weeks away, commencing Thursday, March 2nd and running through March 6th. The National Voting Rights Celebration is already upon us. The future is rushing headlong toward us, and we don’t know what to do. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.
A powerful moment of history was forged 52 years ago. It changed this country and altered the course of the world. We are commemorating some of that history. We are celebrating some of that history. We are fighting to keep some historic accomplishments from just becoming part of the past. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.
Let’s briefly summarize that moment of history from 52 years ago. Mighty struggles to secure voting rights for Black people were being waged across the South and beyond. But there was a widespread consensus that nothing could be done; that no voting rights legislation could possibly pass the United States Congress. But then history took over, creating the nexus of the past, the present and the future that binds us together.
Jimmie Lee Jackson was brutally gunned down by an Alabama State Trooper in Marion, Perry County. In response to and in continuing the struggle for the right to vote, about 600 indivduals attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery on Sunday, March 7, 1965. They were brutally beaten on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge by state and local law enforcement. The brutality was captured on television. It became known as Bloody Sunday.
At the call of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., people came from near and far. Another march was scheduled, started and turned around. It was dubbed Turnaround Tuesday. Rev. James Reeb was murdered. Others were beaten. There was a legal battle in federal court. Within three weeks, the historic Selma-to-Montgomery March, led by Dr. King, was completed. Viola Liuzzo was gunned down while transporting people back to Selma after the March. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.
President Lyndon Johnson had moved with vision and courage to propose a sweeping Voting Rights Bill. On August 6, 1965, the 1965 Voting Rights Act became the law of the land, and Black people, denied for the right to vote for centuries, now had a strong legal basis to vote. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.
But tens of thousands will come to Selma this March. The Bridge Crossing Jubilee comprises 40-50 events over a five-day period. It starts with the old fashioned mass meeting on Thursday, March 2nd. It continues with many workshops on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is the Jubilee Parade, the Jubilee Festival, the Freedom Flame Awards, the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast, and the services at Brown Chapel AME Church, Tabernacle Baptist Church, First Baptist Church and other churches. There are too many events to name here. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.
Of course, thousands will march across the bridge on Bloody Sunday. We will commemorate the bloodshed. We will celebrate the victories. We will lift the commitments made and kept and to be kept. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.
But these moments on March 2-6 will not be just about what happened 65 years ago. People marching on Bloody Sunday will be marching about what is happening now. People will be marching about what must happen in the future. Dr. William Barber, America’s most visible voting rights champion of the moment, will lead the march. He will also lead the Slow Ride from Selma to Montgomery and facilitate discussions on voting rights in the State House at the end of the slow ride. The past will be right there. The present will be everywhere. But the future will be the focus. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together.
The nexus of history is heavy. We sometimes carry history on our hearts, on our emotions, on our spirits, on our beings. When we do it, it weighs us down. But we can carry history in our hearts, in our emotions, in our spirits, in our beings, and it will lift and carry us. A third alternative is to place history down, stand on it so we can see farther and reach higher. The Bridge Crossing Jubilee helps us to carry history in our beings so it lifts us. It helps us to stand on history, reaching higher and seeing farther. The nexus of the past, the present and the future binds us together to serve one another.
EPILOGUE – When the past is properly connected to the present, and the present is properly connected to the future, a special power is unleashed. This power lifts the past, enhances the present, and builds the future.