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Selma, Ala. Builds “Beyond the Bridge”

Americus, Ga. - August 31, 1999 - Led by black and white churches, the citizens of Selma, Ala. will put aside decades of “Sunday morning segregation” to work together September 11-17 on “Building Beyond the Bridge,” a 20-house Habitat for Humanity blitz build.

Selma was the site of the pivotal clash between civil rights marchers and Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus bridge in March, 1965. Nearly 35 years later, this interracial home-building effort will dramatically illustrate the city’s efforts to move past that tragedy into an era of reconciliation, cooperation, and service.

“Building Beyond the Bridge” will gather volunteers from Selma and across the country to help build the Habitat for Humanity houses. Among those expected to volunteer are several veterans of the civil rights movement, including Josea Williams, who led the 1965 march with John Lewis, and voting rights pioneer Miss Annie Cooper. As well, several presidential candidates, including Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush have been invited to be among the volunteers, and pop music stars Sixpence None The Richer will come to town for a day of construction work. The core of the volunteer force, however, will be the people from the pews of Selma’s faith community.

“This project is a tremendous happening,” says Millard Fuller, president and founder of Habitat for Humanity International. “Not long ago Selma was a symbol of division. Now, it stands as a beacon of hope, opportunity and reconciliation. Habitat For Humanity could not be more pleased to be part of this transformation.”

“Building Beyond the Bridge” will also feature several special events happening alongside the building project, including a city-wide celebration on Sunday, Sept. 12. Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts (an ordained minister) will join international evangelist and advocate for racial reconciliation Rev. James Robison as the keynote speakers. As well as Watts and Robison, musicians from across the country, including Marvin Saap, The Ragamuffins and Natalie Grant are expected to participate.

“Building Beyond the Bridge” is part of Habitat for Humanity’s Building on Faith Week, a week set aside to engage churches in the work and mission of Habitat for Humanity, to focus attention on Habitat’s identity as a Christian organization and to elevate poverty housing as a moral and religious challenge.

Habitat for Humanity International is a worldwide nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Habitat brings together people with resources and people in need to build simple, decent, affordable houses. The homes are sold to those in need at no profit, through no-interest loans. Founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller along with his wife Linda, Habitat for Humanity has built nearly 80,000 houses, providing shelter for more than 375,000 people worldwide. Habitat for Humanity International has affiliates in every state of the United States and 63 other countries.