ASU Needs Funds for Interpretive Center

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By Ashley Thompson

 Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and Alabama State University had plans to open an interpretive center to commemorate the event by that time. University officials said the school had secured the funds to build the center but little to no progress has been made. So, what's the hold up?

 
 
Janice Franklin is the director of Alabama State University's National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture. She says, when constructed, the Interpretive Center will be a state of the art facility.
 
"We will celebrate and honor the very important international history that is related to the Voting Rights Movement, especially an emphasis on the Selma to Montgomery March." 
 
And some students are looking forward to having the tourist attraction on their campus. Student Government Association President Sharod Campbell says the center will add to ASU.
 
"More people can come on and see the history of Montgomery and Selma and just black history and the Civil Rights Movement where it began." 
 
But construction has not yet started. In a press release, sent last July, ASU officials stated the university was awarded 800 thousand dollars in grant money for the center. Though Executive Vice President John Knight says the school has not yet received the money.
 
"There's no grant money," he says. "We have money that was earmarked at the state budget that we had started earmarking years ago for this particular project. That will be the seed money, but that's not enough money to really do all of the construction."
 
Knight says right now, ASU officials are asking for financial support for the project from lawmakers. And although he says he'd like to center to be open in time for the Selma to Montgomery march next year, he says there is no concrete finish date. 
 
"The whole process has been very frustrating because if you ask me personally, I think we should have had it up a long time ago but that's the way the process works." 
 
The press release also states that ASU had received 1.2 million dollars in grant money from the Alabama Department of Conservation for the center but Franklin the National Parks Service has been strapped for cash, which is slowing things down.
 
"We're working right now with other partners," says Franklin. "Of course, our timeline is affected by that."
 
Right now ASU officials are still optimistic about this project, saying even if there's groundbreaking on the project next year, they'll be happy.
 
 
 
 

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