Originally Published: March 6, 2015
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – They are marching back in history to mark a major milestone. Students from Southern Methodist University loaded into buses Friday and set off — bound for Selma, Alabama.
They know it will be an emotional trip and it’s one they’ve planned for more than a year.
There are 36 students and four adults on their way to Selma. The group is largely made up of young people with majors in Human Rights and Anthropology – majors that are a part of part SMU’s political science department.
But the pilgrimage wasn’t by exclusive invitation; it was also offered to all students at SMU.
LaQuencia Dorsey’s grandmother was among the thousands who participated in the march from Selma to Montgomery 50 years ago.
“It’s going to be an emotional roller coaster for me,” she said. “Especially [since], my grandmother was part of it as well. It’s really unique for me to be able to touch the bridge, to actually feel where things happened.”
Facilitator Ray Jordan explained that the American civil rights movement and the experience of events in Selma aren’t mutually exclusive to African Americans. “It’s incredibly important that this becomes American history,” he explained. “Sometimes it’s segregated or sectioned into Black History, but this is the history of our country.”
Unlike those who made the trip from SMU in 1965, those who left on Friday are not afraid for their safety.
It was 50 years ago, on the eve of his bus ride to Montgomery that retired SMU Professor Kenneth Shields says a group of African American janitors came to his door. He recalled, “They said, ‘you don’t realize the dangers you are going into.’”
Shields explained that he and the others who left from SMU 50 years ago were motivated by what happened on Bloody Sunday. “I have always felt an identification and empathy for people who are marginalized.”
Friday Shields was there to help send off the next generation of activists. “I wish very much that I could be going along with you,” he told the group.
On March 25, 1965, Professor Shields says he marched next to a girl who could’ve been more than 14-years-old.
“She was still bandaged from being beaten on Bloody Sunday. And I said, ‘what do you think of the sheriff and the people who beat up on you?’ And she said, ‘I love them.’”
The group traveling then found that advice from janitors proved to have merit. In 1965, the bus company provided box lunches for the marching students’ ride home. When they opened them they found them full of garbage.
The 2015 group will reach Jackson, Mississippi Friday night and will be in Selma by Saturday morning. READ MORE