Bob Lowry


AUBURN -- James Perkins Jr., the first black mayor of Selma, will speak at Auburn University on Wednesday (Jan. 10) to kick off the campus observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Perkins will speak at 6 p.m., in the auditorium of the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center.

"We selected Mayor James Perkins to be our guest speaker because he has witnessed and made civil rights history in historic Selma, Ala.," said John Bello- Ogunu, assistant provost for multicultural affairs at AU. "Mayor Perkins is a symbolic representation of what the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked and died for -- that one day all Americans, regardless of their racial, ethnic, national and religious origin, might co-exist in harmony, and be judged not by their skin color, but by the content of their character."

Perkins, 47, a Selma native, defeated longtime Selma Mayor Joe Smitherman in a runoff in November. A technology consultant, he was among the first group of black students to enter and graduate from Selma High School, formed from the merger of R.B. Hudson and A.G. Parrish high schools.

He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Alabama A&M University. Perkins was a computer programmer and systems analyst for Caterpillar Tractor in Peoria, Ill., and a project manager for Martin Marietta before returning to Selma in 1980 to start Business Ventures Inc.

Perkins is a member of the Drug Advisory Council to the Selma public school system, Alabama New South Coalition, Auburn University African- American Enterprise Commission Board of Directors, Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority, treasurer of Fathers Active in Children's Education, a co-founder of the Selma-Dallas County Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail Friends Association, vice president of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity in Selma and a Little League baseball coach.

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CONTACT: Bello-Ogunu, 334/844-4184.