Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2010

During Spring Break 2010, students, faculty and staff are taking an eight-day bus ride to the American South’s civil rights landmarks, with stops in Little Rock, Arkansas; Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson and Oxford, Mississippi; and Memphis, Tennessee. They will be led by Ray Jordan of the Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life; Dennis Simon, associate professor of political science in Dedman College; and junior Linwood Fields, a political science and English major who participated in the 2009 pilgrimage.

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Catching the spirit

Alexandra.jpg An update from Alexandra, a first-year English major, with minors in history and human rights:

The highlight of this trip has been getting the chance to meet some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. Don’t get me wrong, the museums and tours have been wonderful, but they don’t seem to compare to the look in these people’s eyes and the strength that radiates from them.

I am truly in awe of the rich heritage we’ve gotten a chance to be a part of … the passion of a few individuals that challenges the very foundations of my thoughts. These foot soldiers and eyewitnesses really believed in something … they fought for something. Each one has both a story and a message for us.

The best part about history coming alive in a trip like this is the empowerment that it brings to your heart. Hearing the stories doesn’t just cement events in your mind or put a face to the words that you’ve been reading … history becomes contagious.

Listening to Rita Bender and her husband tonight (Rita is the widow of one of the three civil rights activists who were murdered in 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi) made me realize that the Civil Rights Movement wasn’t just an event that people participated in … it wasn’t a meeting to attend or a boycott to follow or a leader to listen to … it was a way of life.

People had a resolve in their hearts that they weren’t going to tolerate the injustice anymore. They made up their minds that they were going to change something – and keep on changing somethings for as long as they could. Those civil rights activists are STILL civil rights activists … they are parceling out that energy to anyone who will pick up the mantle. They keep looking me in the eye and telling me not to be silent – to change something. They insist that it’s my time now, and what am I going to do about that?

I want that kind of passion and drive in my life. I want to catch the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. I’ve lived my entire life learning how to be passionate about Christ and how to be excited for my future and the people whose lives I want to touch – but why should my only passion be to know Christ more? Why can’t it be to change the world? Maybe putting feet to my faith is a whole lot simpler than I thought it was. Maybe I was born to shake something.

Because I cannot do everything,
I will not neglect to do the something I can do.

– Helen Keller

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