Living Democracy

Building Bridges Across Divisions Can Help Selma Reach Goal of Unity

View of sidewalk in SelmaSelma is in a process of redefining who she was meant to be. Unity is a universal desire amongst citizen leaders and agencies in the community.  But what will it take to get the people on one accord? Racial tensions have openly plagued the city’s past from the Civil War through the Civil Rights battles later. Today, though it has made commendable progress, the community still suffers from internal division.

Race has been the hot topic in national media this summer, and the flame seems to get hotter and more intense. Selma has been battling racial divides long before the sudden barrage of media coverage.

At the “Strengthening Selma’s Future Forum” by in April, students from all of the area high schools spoke of their aspirations to venture past implicit racial divides and delve in opportunities that promote inclusiveness among Selma’s youth.

The student demographics in the schools in and around Selma show that elementary and middle school kids usually have the opportunity to bond between races, whereas high school students go to schools that are a lot less diverse.

Nevertheless, the people of Selma have been putting forth efforts to change the dynamics that continue to divide their city.  There is always something going on in Selma with intentions to bring people together.

Race isn’t the only issue in Selma. The willingness for people to compromise on priorities and considering combining their resources is also a hurdle to get over.

I see so much potential in the forces that make the largest impact and produce the most influence in Selma, but I don’t see those powerhouses working with one another to expand their networks, resources, and audiences.  Everyone seems to have conflicting agendas, but they all have a common goal: to unify Selma.

Iron work in SelmaForming relationships in the community and between civic groups has to be intentional for them to be successful. To expunge the lines that divide the city as a whole, those with power must first come to realize that their differences don’t matter nearly as much as the result they want to achieve.

Selma’s future does not depend on her past. It instead depends on what is done in this present time. General society is transforming to be more accepting and unbothered by issues that tore past generations apart.

Older generations tend to unknowingly generate a recurring cycle of separation. The children are truly our future, and whatever they are exposed to in their youth will have a tremendous effect on their futures.

This world is more interconnected than we may realize at times, and Selma is just a tiny piece in this vast system. Selma’s citizens have to learn how to compromise with perceived adversaries in order to make a difference in the place they love so dearly. To do that, we have to step outside of our comfort zones and think outside of the box and make intentional connections that may have never been imagined.

Selma is the Queen City of the Black Belt. Her issues may have tilted her crown, but collectively her people can and will reposition her for a brighter future.

Last Updated: July 28, 2015