It's hard to believe that 50 years ago, in 1965, African-Americans were fighting for their rights. It's even harder to believe today in 2015, that while a lot has changed, racism and the racial divide continue to permeate much of American society. That however, is the subject for another day.
But back to 1965. In an incident that would become known as "Bloody Sunday," a galvanizing point in the Civil Rights movement, peaceful protesters en route to Montgomery were attacked by police officers and white supremacists on what is currently known as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. This bridge, now a Historical National Landmark, is named after Edmund Pettus, a lawyer, politician, and distinguished officer of the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Most famously, though, he was a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon of the Realm of Alabama after the war while seated in the nation's Senate. The irony of this connection couldn't be less subtle -- you can't make this stuff up, folks.
An unlikely group of jazz musicians has banded together for a performance of The Bridge, which remembers this incident. It's billed as a "musical reminder of those who, 50 years ago, fought for the Civil Rights that today are so often taken for granted."
The group is made up of one of jazz's great contemporary voices is Allan Harris and one of South Florida's best known jazz musicians, Jesse Jones Jr. Rock and rollers will recognize bandmate Doug Wimbish as the great bass player that helped define Living Colour's sound as well as for his pioneering of the bass in the hip-hop industry.
This project originated after Harris and Wimbish performed together at last year's Art Deco Weekend in Miami Beach and now, almost a year later and closing in on the half century anniversary of the famous march and deplorable incident, they are joined by Jones on alto saxophone and jazz violinist Christian Howes for a show that the press release says will "entertain, educate, and inspire a new generation to 'wake up' and recognize that their so-called unalienable rights are under serious attack."
This outdoor performance at Bailey Contemporary Arts (BaCA) is free and open to the public with a mission of bringing the community together under the celebration and tribute to America's recent history. Pompano Beach churches and neighborhood associations are offered reserved seating for this event.
The Bridge with Allan Harris, Doug Wimbish and Jesse Jones Jr. at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 18 at BaCA, 41 NE 1 AVE, Pompano Beach. Call 954-284-0141, or visit pompanobeacharts.org.