Last Friday, I left my dorm ready to enjoy spring break. I was very excited to be on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage because I would visit different museums that would retell what I knew about the Civil Rights movement. The reality was much different.
In every museum, every site, from Greensboro, North Carolina to Memphis, Tennessee I was reminded that there was still so much I did not know. My high school history classes only gave me a glimpse of what had really happened in the Civil Rights Movement. I learned that the movement encompassed more than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. The movement involved mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons. The Civil Rights movement was the freedom riders, it was the children who walked out of class, it was the working men and women who boycotted segregated buses or facilities. All these people tell us that it takes many to change the status quo, it takes many to strengthen and empower a movement.
The country I live in today would not what it is without this movement. The Civil Rights Movement as stated in the movie The Butler, "sought to save the soul of this country". Despite the many things the Civil Rights movement has done, that does not mean the fight stopped there. Today, segregation is worse than it was in the 1950s. To me segregation was a normal thing. I grew up and still live in the South side of Chicago. My neighborhood was predominantly Latino, and while I grew up it was very normal and comfortable for me to live in a segregated area. I never questioned my segregated environment. This trip has opened my eyes. It is true that history can serve as lens to bettering our future. And this is what this trip has done for me. It has opened my eyes to what I thought was okay in my home city. Segregation should never be a comfortable situation. People shed blood and tears to change the Jim Crow South and to remain comfortable with segregation today does no justice to what civil rights activists went through and fought for in the Civil Rights movement.
I am very glad I went on this pilgrimage. I learned so much more about the Civil Rights movement and how it relates to current issues. One of the greatest lessons I can learn from this trip is to never sell myself short when I am fighting for something. If my cause promotes equality, promotes justice then I should not feel hopeless. Justice always wins and that is what the Civil Rights movement has taught me. No matter how hard or how long the struggle may feel, justice will always find its way to the finish line.
This trip has also encouraged me find other hidden history. Many of the things that truly inspire me are never found the textbooks I had to read in high school, and some of the history that pertains to me specifically never plays a major role in history textbooks. It is important to find the history that pertains to us, that inspires us, that provides us with examples of own people doing great things. Then we will be a step closer to understanding the beauty of every person's culture and background. As a famous quotes states, "you don't know where you're going until you know where you've been."