Monday, March 28, 2016

Civil Rights Pilgrimage: Recap

The CRP finished yesterday and I have to say I am sad that it has finished. As taking part in the planning, however, I am glad that this trip finally came to life and that the people on the trip enjoyed it.

These experiences are indeed unforgettable. From Greensboro to Memphis, we were able to lift the veil off hidden parts of the Civil Rights Movement. In Greensboro, we learned about the heroic Greensboro four. Four young Black men who decided that segregation in public facilities should no longer be the norm. In South Carolina, we visited the Mother Emanuel AME church where months before white supremacy killed 9 people only because of the color of their skin. The experience in the church was surreal. Being there reopened fears of hate that continue to exist in this country, but also a sense that there is always a community to support in times of need. I think it shines a light on some elements in our society that have failed to reach everyone: peace and love for humanity. Yes, we are all complex beings with complex backgrounds but sometimes we forget to realize that we are humans living among one earth. We all strive to have one thing: to be happy in the one life we are living. Unfortunately, different systems of oppression continue to plague and damage communities in the U.S and across the globe. I thank this trip for making these injustices aware to me again.

Our travel to revisit the legacy of Dr. King also brings new elements. Dr. King was inspirational, he was a leader, someone people could look up to for support. Dr. King makes up a very critical and important part of the civil rights movement but Dr. King is not THE civil rights movement. The Civil Rights movement was Dr. King, the SCLC, SNCC, CORE, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children. The movement was everyone who believed that systems in the Jim Crow South denied U.S citizens their right to dignity. I am moved then by what we learn in Birmingham, through the Children's March and by all the innocent lives lost to racism and fear of change. Our eventual visits to Montgomery, Tuskegee, Selma, Little Rock, and Memphis brought to life not only more details to the CRM but also to different local histories and how they helped shape a movement and generations to come. Lessons learned from this trip are very applicable today as communities of color continue to fight against systematic racism, environmental racism, gentrification..the list goes on.

Our experience in Little Rock with the students of UW-Eau Claire allowed me to see how many people do no understand some of the major problems in this country. For my peers and I, issues of segregation and lack of school funding has been very prevalent within our lives. Our experience with education was an experience many students in our group were first coming to hear. Unfortunately, this case is too often true all over the country. It is easy to belittle someone's struggle when you haven't been in their shows. It is easy to shut down an experience that is not yours and act like the world is a happy place just because it provides you with every opportunity you could dream of. This world however is not available to everyone. I am glad we had the time to discuss education with our groups so they could at least begin to understand the problems within education in the U.S today.

I finish off with our experience in Selma. It is a very powerful experience as we go through the National Voting Rights Museum,  the Slavery and Civil War Museum, the Brown Chapel AME church and walking over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Voting was never an important matter to me until I had my experience in Selma. I could care less about it--probably because I did not know the power I obtained with just simply casting a vote or the history behind voting struggles. Now voting has become extremely important to me. Blood was shed for the right to vote and it is no longer right I believe to let that struggle go unnoticed. I no longer feel comfortable thinking that at one point I saw voting as pointless. People in past generations engaged in vicious campaigns so that people like me did not have to feel vulnerable within the U.S political system. I have the right to cast a vote and intent to do so as long as I live. The slave simulation was a powerful experience because it shows us a little of the danger and damage of the experience of enslaved Africans. Racial injustice in the Black community is rooted within this experience and we can not ignore it by saying it was a long time ago because the repercussions of those actions are still felt today.

I want to thank all the people who took a part in this trip. The people on this trip have also made it a memorable experience and I am glad to have heard from various perspectives on the trip. This trip is profound and amazing, I recommend anyone who can to do so and take a trip to better understand a movement, and come to the realization that the fight is not over here in the U.S and across the globe. As Dr. King once said, "a threat to justice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere."


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