Friday, March 27, 2015

Small World

As I was going to breakfast today in Little Rock, I was in the elevator with a couple who asked me "Is all of Illinois at this hotel?" I went on to explain that it was our spring break and that we were on a civil rights pilgrimage as our trip. They were so interested and asked where we had been so far and where we were going. They thanked me for sharing and continued on their way but regardless it was a pleasant exchange and I was glad to represent our school in that aspect. 

Another thing that struck me today is that some of the hotel staff in Little Rock asked me why we came there for spring break. I again explained the trip we were on and they understood more, but not all the way I don't think. When you think "Civil Rights Movement," Little Rock isn't the first thing to pop into my head. I think Selma, March on Washington, or Freedom Rides before that. Our time in Arkansas gave me an education in civil rights and the movement that I never really thought or learned about before this trip. These people who live in the city where many civil rights incidents occurred, like the John Carter lynching or the destruction of the West 9th Street area due to the construction of interstate 630, don't understand the importance of their cities' affiliation to the civil rights movement and it baffles me that they want to just erase that part of their history so as not to learn from it. 

Now today, we traveled to Memphis where we visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. It was kind of eerie exploring the civil rights history in America in the same location where Dr. King was there. I think he would have been proud of the museum and how informative it is to the public to educate them on one of the darkest times in American history. Now, to connect the title of my blog post to the post itself, I along with other members on the trip ran into University of Illinois alums while at the museum. They were interested about us being there for spring break and thought it was a great experience for us to go on this pilgrimage. We then talked about all things Illinois like the cost of attendance now versus then and the changes on Green Street. I enjoyed talking with them and I hope in turn they enjoyed talking to us.

The museum today is at the top of my list of places to revisit in the future. It was informative and interactive and was a great way to start the conclusion of our trip. My friends and I were able to pick out pictures of important people (like Dr. LaFayette's mugshot haha) that we had met or learned about at previous locations. It really connected the entire trip together for me. 

I am very ready to get back to school and finish out the semester, but I am going to miss being with these 50 or so other people every day exploring new cities and museums and increasing our knowledge ang perspective on civil rights. 

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