One of my readers passes along this story from Selma, Alabama:
The mayor of Selma refused to back down Friday in a fight that has united unlikely allies — black civil rights marchers and white Civil War re-enactors who refuse to pay thousands in fees to hold their events.
Both groups say the city is squeezing them with demands for thousands of dollars in up-front payments to stage annual events that bring tens of thousands of visitors to an otherwise sleepy community where unemployment is high and boarded-up homes and businesses are a common sight.
Plans for next month’s Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which commemorates the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march of 1965, are up in the air over the city’s demand. And the re-enactment of the 1865 Battle of Selma, involving hundreds of history buffs in Civil War garb, has been canceled because organizers couldn’t afford the tab.
Like many small towns in the Deep South, Selma has been in a gradual economic decline for generations. People who had the wherewithal to leave, mostly did. The city’s broke. It’s a hard story, but not remotely unique or unusual.