Today is fifty years since African Americans first marched across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to register to vote for the first time. As they approached the bridge, the marchers were met by brutal vicious attacks by the Selma police and others. Martin Luther King turned the crowd around and decided they would try another day. He then sent out a call to caring people, especially ministers from around the country , to join the group in a second attempt to register to vote. Gordon Cosby, minister of Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC responded. He got on a plane and left immediately.
On March 7 the group set out again to vote, this time accompanied by hundreds of people from across the US. They were trained in peaceful demonstrating and non-violent tactics by a teen age boy. He said, “if you have any weapons on you, empty them out right now. I aint gonna die for no switchblade.”
As the marchers approached the Pettus Bridge, they again met police and state troopers. This time there were no attacks, violence, or brutality. Martin Luther King fell to his knees and the group began to pray, Then they turned around and went back to their homes. Soon after, the Voting Rights Act was passed in Congress, opening the door for all Americans to exercise their right to vote.
As Gordon Cosby returned to DC he flew over a large facility called Junior Village, housing over 900 children who were not able to be with their families. He knew then that this was our Selma – to find homes for all of those children and close Junior Village.
Soon the Church of the Saviour began a new mission, For Love of Children to find homes and loving care for all of the children. We gathered on Saturday mornings for prayer, singing, and inspiration. Then we spread out across the city, knocking on homes and asking people if they would like to have a foster child. Who knows what they thought about early morning visitors, but amazingly many said Yes they had love to share with a child in need. My family was part of that mission.
FOR LOVE OF CHILDREN was one of the early ministries of the Church of the Saviour, leading to the founding of additional missions, including Jubilee Housing in 1973 and Jubilee Jobs in 1981.
Junior Village was closed in 1973. We have crossed many bridges for civil rights since then, but there are many more still to cross. Jubilee Jobs is especially aware of the struggles of the young black men today, ages 16-24, desperately in need of work and direction. Often arrest and prison have set their course for life. Together we will march for meaningful work for all through compassionate job placement and community support.