A huge congratulations to Upscale Writer Dr. Adia Winfrey and organizers of Jubilee Festival and Hip-Hop Political Summit 2023!
The Jubilee Festival, held annually in Selma, Alabama, is a celebration of African American history and culture. The event includes a march commemorating the civil rights movement and the Bloody Sunday March of 1965.
Upscale supported and took it all in. Although notables and citizens from around the country attend this event year after year, some who do not still question its significance. I will attempt to answer that question starting with a few questions:
If you had to answer the following three questions correctly to be allowed to vote in the next political election, could you answer all three correctly?
- A President elected at the general election in November takes office the following year on what date?
- When the Constitution was approved by the original colonies, how many states had to ratify it for it to be in effect?
- Does enumeration affect the income tax levied on citizens in various states?
Whether you could answer these questions or not, imagine being required to answer 60 to 100 questions before being allowed to vote for the next governor, senator, or law of your choice. Black Americans once endured this task.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, many states enacted literacy tests as a voting requirement. The purpose was to exclude persons with minimal literacy, particularly, poor African Americans in the South, from voting. The tests asked these prospective voters to interpret abstract provisions of the U.S. Constitution or rejected their applications for errors. These literacy tests were popular in Alabama.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided that literacy tests used as a qualification for voting in federal elections be administered wholly in writing and only to persons who had completed at least six years of formal education.
Fighting for the right to vote by eliminating such practices was a major endeavor of people involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Jimmie Lee Jackson even died doing so.
On February 18, 1965, troopers beat and fatally shot the 27-year-old unarmed activist and Baptist church deacon while he participated in a peaceful voting rights march in Marion, Alabama. Jackson was trying to protect his mother, who the troopers were attacking. He died eight days later in the hospital.
In response, civil rights leaders planned to take their cause directly to Alabama Governor George Wallace on a 54-mile march from Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the state capital of Montgomery. Although Wallace ordered state troopers “to use whatever measures are necessary to prevent a march,” approximately 600 voting rights advocates led by then-25-year-old activist John Lewis set out from the Brown Chapel AME Church on Sunday, March 7, 1965.
Although many were wounded by troopers, the “Bloody Sunday” march helped gain congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This opened the door to millions of African Americans having the equal right to vote in Alabama and across the Southern United States, regaining participation as citizens in the political system for the first time since the turn of the 20th century.
On the weekend of March 6-8, 2023, 58 years later, Jubilee Festival 2023 and the Hip-Hop Political Summit brought together a star-studded array of compassionate citizens commemorating Bloody Sunday. Dr. Adia Winfrey and the Jubilee Festival Committee with tremendous behind the scenes work of Upscale Magazine’s Marie-Antoinette Tichler delivered an electrifying Hip-Hop Summit to Selma. It raised the interest of teens and adults in the importance of the fight for human rights.
The Hip-Hop Summit included reality television star Martell Holt from the popular reality T.V. show Love and Marriage Huntsville. Holt graced the cover of Upscale Magazine’s November 2022 issue. He served as Grand Marshall of the Saturday morning Jubilee Festival Parade. Holt, with children, mom, and aunt in tow, also provided inspiring words at the program.
The Hip-Hop Summit continued into Saturday afternoon with a live performance from Lil Scrappy from T.V.’s Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) talked with Upscale PR Jonell Whit. Ms. Waters shared that she has been to every Jubilee Festival for the past 15 years. Yohance Maqubelia and Ayanna Gregory, son and daughter of the late Dick Gregory, graced the Friday night event and presented at Saturday night’s Freedom Flame Awards program. Congresswoman Waters and Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) also spoke at the Freedom Flame Awards.
The march on Sunday brought an additional 20,000 people to Selma. Notables included U.S. President Joe Biden, and veteran civil rights activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who led the way to commemorate this tremendous moment in history once again.