Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 2: Tuskegee

First let me say that I am writing about DAY 2 on DAY 3, as I was extremely tired yesterday. Our day started in Atlanta, where we went to the Sweet Auburn Market as well as the King Center. On Sunday, we learned before service that there is a lot of homelessness and poverty in the area close to Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center. As a result, we thought it would be a good idea to distribute the rest of our donated bread to the homeless.

Throughout the morning, I approached three different homeless individuals. I approached these individuals because I could sense in their face that they needed assistance. I spoke with them, and after our brief conversation, I asked them if they'd like a loaf of bread. In ALL three isolated incidents they said yes, but once i took the bread out of the bag, they quickly changed their reponse to, "No Thank You" after seeing it. The bread wasn't typical "white or wheat bread," but it was still homemade bread...and FOOD! This was contrary to my believes and assertions, as I thought they would have been very appreciative for the meal. This experience allowed me to learn that while you may have good intentions to help people, they may not want your assistance. Ultimately, I still felt rewarded by my desire to do something positive for someone else!!

Then we departed for Tuskegee....what an experience...while there were a few travel complications I was still able to take something away from it. I was humbled as I thought about the many people (black, white, and other races) who invested time, effort, and energy into the Civil Rights Movement. As I sat on the bus thinking of how bad things were going for us in terms of our travel issues, i began reflecting on the numerous Freedom Riders, and the many who had to travel from state to state and city to city to attend marches, rallies, and events associated with the movement. They were brave and did what it took to make a difference for our country. Our travelling issues seemed small as I thought about how many had been arrested, killed, wounded by bombs, and tormented along the way by the likes of the police and Klansman. It is then when I realized that it didn't matter what was going on because if they were able to fight for my equality while knowing that it was not safe to travel, who was i to complain about ANYTHING!

While in Tuskegee we visited the Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center. It is there that I had a couple candid conversations about Booker T. Washington. I always welcome opportunities to have the Washington vs. Du Bois debate, as I honestly feel as though they needed each other in order to be successful. They motivated each other. In conversing with my students, I challenged their thinking as it relates to Mr. Booker T. Washington, as many felt as though he was a "coward" for not being as radical as W.E.B. Du Bois. As an educator it did excite me to know that they were aware of these two influential men. As the conversations continued, I saw lightbulbs going off as they processed the questions and information that I posed to them. During our conversations, I tried to get them to think about external factors which may have allowed the two men to have differing philosophies. Coincidentally, at the end of our tour, our guide basically said the same thing that I did in reference to thinking about the context of their beliefs. We typically think about the same individuals when we think of Civil Rights (Martin and Rosa). I will be adding a name to that list. One of the names that I'll remember from now on is Samuel Young Jr. He was an active member of Tuskegee, AL (young activist, military, and student of Tuskegee) who was killed for a dispute with a white man. Sammy Young Jr. was shot and killed by the man. I will never forget this story now that I've learned about him.

After the Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center we headed to Tuskegee University. There we had another "choose your own adventure" opportunity to explore campus. One of the places I visited was The Oaks (Home of Booker T. Washington). I couldn't believe how big the house was. I then ventured to explore the student union (of course i did, I AM STUDENT AFFAIRS!) The Student Union was not as I expected. At the time I was there, the Union was certainly not the pulse of campus. There weren't any offices open, and I only ran into about 6 students. After leaving there, I went to the George Washington Carver Museum. By the time I got there, I only had about five minutes to explore before leaving, but I did have a good conversation with the park ranger about other things to explore in Tuskegee.

Later that evening, from Tuskegee to Montgomery....


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