Twin Cities leaders who made a pilgrimage to Selma, Ala., this year to commemorate a pivotal civil rights march are inviting the public to St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood Wednesday to learn more about past and present racial equity work.
The Ramsey County Historical Society, along with several other organizations, plans to host the event at CHS Field to discuss the Civil Rights Movement and to highlight what community members are doing to try to end racism. The free event will be held from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“We have this tremendous history. … The reality is that the work never really stopped, and there’s still work today,” Historical Society President Chad Roberts said.
In March, 70 local leaders, clergy and others from Minnesota headed to Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a day in which civil rights demonstrators were beaten by police armed with billy clubs and tear gas.
The group included St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith, Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington, St. Paul NAACP President Jeff Martin and former Minnesota Vikings punter Greg Coleman.
The trip was life-changing, Roberts said.
“We had 70,000 people in Selma, and it wasn’t despair and it wasn’t anger. It wasn’t anything like that. It was hope for the future,” Roberts said.
The trip was organized by Unity Church-Unitarian and Above Every Name Ministries. Since returning, those who made the trek have been meeting to discuss future plans.
On Wednesday, several cultural and civic organizations, such as the St. Paul Foundation and Ujamaa Place, a nonprofit that serves previously incarcerated black men, will showcase their community work.
The event will feature a panel of those who traveled to Selma, an exhibition baseball game involving kids in the Twins’ Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, and a presentation on the history of black baseball in Minnesota. Community leader Josie Robinson Johnson will be the featured speaker.
The Historical Society is preparing an exhibit and program series for next year that explores the group’s Selma experience. A preview of the exhibit will also be on display Wednesday.