Today was a day of stark contrasts. The largest of them between the tour guide at the state capitol and Dr. Sherri Cherry at Dr. King's home.
The tour guide came across as uninterested, dispassionate, and dismissive of actual history. Throughout the tour, it was evident that the tour guide was hesitant or reluctant to mention slaves or go in depth about the civil rights movement. Slaves were referred to as immigrants, which assumes that they moved to America voluntarily for their own good. When discussing the marketplace in the capitol, the tour guide said fruits and vegetables and other goods were sold here and finally admitted to selling slaves in the market when questioned. Overall, I questioned how the civil rights movement and history in general is framed in certain regions of the country.
Not long later, we had the privilege to hear the wise words of Dr. Sherri Cherry. She easily takes the prize for the most inspirational speaker of the trip (so far at least). Her passion for the topic discussed was evident in the way she spoke. I found it amazing that she got a PhD and taught many white students and now lived in her dream home in Rhode Island. Time after time, she filled our minds with inspirational quotes. She told us that the only way that people could step on our backs was if we bent over and allowed it. She told us that if we ever saw a good fight, we should get into it. She told us that love should be defined as feeling completely comfortable with complete vulnerability with another individual. She told us many of us might not have experienced love the way Dr. King did - when he received death threats, he would never talk back, rather he would pray for them. In the end, I came out believing that I should be aggressive in my approach to my passions without regrets but always with love.
Today was the most moving day, whether it was because of a tour guides' apparent ignorance or because of the passion, love, and character of Dr. Cherry.