Selma Friends of the Trail Announces Annual Courageous Free Thinkers Celebration


By Collins Pettway III

Selma, Alabama; February 22, 2023 – The Friends of the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail officially announces its Courageous Free Thinkers Celebration to commence on Saturday, March 4th and conclude on Sunday, March 5th. The theme of the celebration is Selma: Opportunity and Invitation. This topic opens the doors for discussion of opportunities for solutions in a post-COVID and post-tornado-struck Selma. Specifically, the organization is looking to explore the relationships between Latin American and African American communities as an opportunity to contribute to Selma’s solution.

The Courageous Free Thinkers Panel Discussion will take place on Saturday, March 4th at 6:00 pm. This event aims to deep dive into the aforementioned topic. The panelists are Tony Henshaw, Principal of the Henshaw Group, LLC; Judith Zambrano and Frank Barragan, both members of the Alabama Coalition of Immigrant Justice; Jim Corrigan, President of Craig Industrial Park; Lydia Chatmon, Director of Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Selma; and Felicia Jackson, Executive Director of the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless. The Honorable Helenor Bell of Hayneville, President/CEO of HT Bell Connections, will serve as moderator. Then on Sunday, March 5th at 9:00 am, the Courageous Free Thinkers Worship Service will culminate the celebration. United States Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina’s 6th District will serve as the keynote speaker. Additionally, Rep. Clyburn will also be the recipient of the special honor, the Courageous Free Thinkers Award.

The Courageous Free Thinkers Celebration is a series of annual events that seek to utilize
innovative programs to honor the “Courageous Eight,” individuals who led the Dallas County Voters League and who were the change agents in Selma during the Voting Rights Movement. They are Amelia Boynton-Robinson, Marie Foster, Rev. Henry Shannon, Earnest Doyle, James Gildersleeve, Ulysses Blackmon, J. D. Hunter, and Frederick D. Reese. This year marks the 7th year commemorating the group and each year these events challenge the community to engage in forward-thinking and thought-provoking discussions. Even this year, current events in Selma played a significant role in selecting the subject matter.

“This panel discussion is an opportunity to explore the ways, means, and the will to reverse
population decline and rebuild Selma by extending an invitation for working families who are looking for the type of opportunity that exists in Selma,” stated Rev. James Perkins, Jr.,
Committee Chairman. “Selma needs families with employability skills and children and adults who are eager to learn and build community; there is no silver bullet. However, could an intentional relationship between the Latin American and African American communities contribute to Selma’s solution? I believe that’s a topic worth discussing.”

The Courageous Free Thinkers Celebration will take place at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist
Church, located at 1548 Dr. F. D. Reese Street, Selma, AL 36703. For more information regarding the event, please contact Mr. Charles H. Johnson, Sr. at [email protected].

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