Fifty years after a day known as Bloody Sunday, because of the unmitigated violence against marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation (Selma CTNR) was established near the bridge to address the continued violence and conflicts that still plague Selma and the Nation. The founders of the Selma CNTR include Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a comrade of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Lafayette was a primary architect of Selma 1.0 (the Voting Rights Movement) and was nearly killed by white supremacists in Selma in 1963 while organizing youth for voting rights. Following Dr. King's mandate to “institutionalize nonviolence,” Dr. Lafayette, the Master Teacher for the Selma CNTR, has taught nonviolence throughout the world for the past 40 years. Dr. Lafayette has returned to help create Selma 2.0: Finishing the Unfinished Business of bridging divides and building the Beloved Community. The unifying vision of the Selma CNTR is to bring to fruition in Selma, Dr. King’s dream of the Beloved Community, while also functioning as a model for other communities across the U.S. to bring that same vision to life in their local contexts.
Several organizations have come together to establish the Selma CNTR to address these issues through nonviolent methods to bring about truth and reconciliation that heals families, communities, Selma, Alabama, and eventually the Nation. Over 150,000 people from around the world gathered in Selma—now a small town of less than 20,000 people—during the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 2015. During the commemoration, the KKK distributed thousands of recruitment flyers in the area. Also within days after the Jubilee commemoration, two young people and two adults were killed in Selma. Although the work of the Selma CNTR was initiated many years ago, these killings and act of racial violence have inspired the hope that Selma can heal and help heal the Nation, prompting the establishment of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation.
Consequently, the Selma CNTR has been incorporated and a building, the Healing Waters Retreat Center, has been secured to house the Selma CNTR and its programs. The founding organizations include the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founded by Dr. King, The National Voting Rights Museum, The Ancient Africa, Enslavement & Civil War Museum, The 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, and Wallace Community College (named after Governor George Wallace, who allowed and helped maintain a culture of violence that, among other things, claimed the lives of four little girls and two little boys in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963). The Selma CNTR presents workshops, trainings, and symposiums that teach nonviolence and conflict resolution skills, as well as engages the community in a process of truth and reconciliation. We also expect the Selma CNTR to have an economic impact on hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the area.