If I had to describe my visit and experience to the state of Alabama the two words I would use are eye-opening and appalling! The first place that really resonated with me during my visit was Tuskegee University! I have literally fallen in love with that place! Although the black population there is about the same size as the black population at U of I the entire feel on that campus is different. At first I will admit being part of the majority of a campus kind of felt weird to me. Even as a black female I felt out of place, well initially at least. But the more time I spent on the campus talking to students, to professors, and learning about all the amazing history that founded and took place on those grounds I felt more and more at home. Everyone and I mean everyone was very welcoming. Even the atmosphere of the institution was refreshing. I am so use to all the rushing, hustling, and bustling that takes place on the ILLINI campus- just to see how the students there take their time and literally stroll from one destination to another really stuck with me. And I know that these are really minute details but they are just so foreign to me. You can tell that everyone from freshman to administrators are proud to be a part of the Tuskegee legacy. You’ll hear faculty say they choose to work there because they wanted to be a part of something special and the the history of the institution itself is so rich. And you can tell that this history is ingrained into the fabric of Tuskegee because every student I spoke with at random knew the history like the back of their had. It is an amazing dynamic because I sure don’t know the history of the University of Illinois like that!
Another place that stood out to me was the State Capital of Alabama, but unlike Tuskegee that experience will stick with me for the rest of life- however, for very negative reasons. I have never experienced such an openly racist place in my life. Although the people working there may refuse to admit it to me that state capital is nothing but a shrine to the Confederate south. I mean as soon as you step on the ground the Confederate flag is everywhere, they have statues commemorating the “war heroes” and Confederate generals. Inside the actual building the images of African Americans and Native American are beyond degrading, and not to mention inaccurate! Blacks were depicted as happy with being slaves and sharecroppers, while Native American were painted as hostile savages. The woman giving the us the tour was very proud of her Confederate heritage to say the least, and everything was just sickening. I mean I understand that the Confederate and the ideas of the people who were a part of it are a part of the states history. But I honestly feel like if they are so strong in honoring that part of their history maybe they should build a museum or something dedicated to that. But to have these flags and pictures and history that is beyond offensive African Americans embedded in a building that serves as a working state capital is appalling. That is some plan that I NEVER plan to visit again.