Current and former heads of state, policymakers, civil rights leaders and entertainers are in Selma or making their way there to attend star-studded events in honor of the 50th Anniversary of historic events chronicled in part to the star-produced, award-winning movie “Selma.”
On Saturday afternoon, President Barack Obama — as well as several former Presidents, including former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush — are expected to come at least 95 members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans. U.S. Rep John Lewis, D-GA, will be among the group with his organization, the Faith & Politics Institute, to reflect on the movement to secure voting rights. Lewis was a leader of the aborted March 7, 1965, march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery that came to be called “Bloody Sunday.”
President Obama is set to make his remarks on 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday at the bridge.
On Saturday evening, the Bridge Crossing Jubilee hosts its 22nd annual Hip Hop, R&B and Blues Stage from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Dallas Avenue near the Selma City Hall in downtown. Musical artists include Big Robb, Brandon Marcel, Young Breezy and Rick Ross. The event features Tickets are $12 in advance, $20 at the door.
On Sunday evening Centric TV/BET Networks, in partnership with the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute, are sponsoring the All-Star Salute to Selma. The free event will be held after the annual pilgrimage across the bridge.
Dr. Henry Panion, III, will lead his orchestra with a choir with star gospel artists. Hip-hop and rap artists will perform a version of “Self-Destruction,” an 1989 anthem against gang violence and drugs that was then growing in urban communities across the country. (That was back in the day when rappers were conscious artists rather than mere minstrel entertainers.)
Confirmed musicians and entertainers include: A. J. Calloway the host of the concert, Aloe Blacc, Angie Stone, Anthony Hamilton, Arrested Development, BeBe Winans, Bill Bellamy, Bell Biv DeVoe, Bill Withers, Blind Boys of Alabama, Cicely Tyson, Donnie McClurkin, DeWayne Woods, Doug E Fresh, Eddie Levert, Eric Benet, Estelle, Flava Flav, Gladys Knight, India.Arie, Jasiri X, Keith Sweat, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, Ledisi (who was played Mahalia Jackson singing “Precious Lord” in the movie “Selma”), Malcolm-Jamal Warner, MC Lyte, Rick Ross, Ruben Studdard, Tamar Braxton, Tank, Tyrese, Tom Joyner, Tramaine Hawkins and Virtue.
More people are wanting to attend the event as its social media factor explodes in the entertainment world, so expect to see more names, like Vanilla Ice, added to the roster.
Some of the original celebrities who came to support Dr. King in the days-long march from Selma to Montgomery are also appearing, including Harry Belafonte, and Peter Yaraw of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary.
The event will be streamed live on BET.com and CentricTV.com. The concert will be replayed March 15 on Centric TV.
A host of past and present-day civil rights leaders and policymakers are also hosting or taking part in commemorative events and workshops on the Freedom Movement this weekend, from voting rights 50 years ago to police brutality, among modern day civil rights challenges including Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter.
See the full, updated calendar of events HERE.