Friday, April 16, 2010

Foot Soldiers

So it has been a couple weeks since the trip and I am still inspired. Its as if the people that attended the trip are in some kind of fraternity that no one can really understand. I see them on the quad and we speak and share a laugh. This is crazy because before we would pass each other by without even the slightest desire to talk to that person. I think that was the main thing that I garnered the most from this trip, the ability to bond with those totally unlike me, all different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles. We learned history and made it applicable to our day and age.

Tolerance, respect, love are messages that we took from the civil rights movement of the past and are still needed in our struggles today. This trip has truly inspired me to be a better person and to cherish the opportunities that were afforded to me only because of the sacrifices of others. Before planning this trip I must admit I had a one dimensional view of the civil rights movement, slavery, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, KKK, and then all of a sudden blacks and white people were allowed to interact with each other. This was what I was taught in school, and what I saw on T.V. But through researching for and going on this trip I gained a new understanding of what a real hero was. As Joanne Bland said the “foot soldiers” where the real ones that brought about most of the change. It was people like Mary Louise Smith, Pastor and Mrs. Gratze, Emmitt Till and Sammy Younge Jr. just to name a bring few that really sacrificed to bring about the change that we see.

With that being said my favorite parts of the trip were the parts that really emphasized the part that “regular” people played in the civil rights movement. Such as the meeting with the “History Makers” those regular people that were called to do extraordinary things. I remember Mary Louise Smith- Ware, said she didn’t stay on that bus that bus to be some sort of activist, she did it because she was angry and tired of being treated as less than human. I also remember when I was talking to Pastor and Mrs. Gratze they said they did what they thought was the right thing to do and didn’t care that their position as white citizens would be jeopardized. People like Emmitt Till and Sammy Younge Jr. actually lost their lives for this cause, which is the ultimate sacrifice. I think that those who lost their lives in the movement would be happy to know that they were memorialized at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial. It pays homage to not only those who were well known but also those who were forgotten or overlooked.

But I just want to say that I am so happy that I went on this trip I gained a new understanding of how much power I have. You don’t have to be some grand orator or some charismatic figure, you have to be yourself and do what feels right that is what the foot soldiers of the movement did. I think all of those people who perished since the struggle would be happy to see a group like ours. Because in some way or another their actions impacted all of our lives no matter what race.I’m sooo happy I went!!!!

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