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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More mountains to move

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

The last museum of the trip was Soulsville, USA - The Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The museum was a refreshing breath after a week of soaking myself in the blood-stained history of America’s civil rights struggle.

One of the exhibits in the museum described the Stax artists as powerfully raw musicians, which is why the term “Soul music” made so much sense. The museum also told me that Soul music was deeply influenced by the gospel songs of the black churches. Now that was something I understood completely … Music seems to unwrap the heart in a way that spoken word can’t.

One of my favorite songs is “My Soul Cries” by Misty Edwards (a worship leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City), and it speaks of exposing the deepest desires of the heart. The Civil Rights Movement is so powerful because it was so genuine. It came from the deep desire of the heart for justice … for hope. To understand the depth of the Movement, I had to stare it in the face. I couldn’t read it in a textbook, I had to hear it. I had to hear the stories, I had to hear the songs, and I had to stand on the sacred ground where everyday heroes walked.

So far, every time I have told someone about my trip, I have told them that it changed my life. I can tell they don’t really understand what I mean even though I try to explain it … because it’s hard to explain. How do you tell someone that you developed a deeper hunger for life? That you were ground farther into your resolve for making a difference in the world? That within the course of one week, humanity’s deep longing for freedom finally made sense to you? That the passion in the souls of the foot soldiers grabbed ahold of your heart? That your faith was strengthened because you saw what it could actually do? The faith of Dr. King … the faith of Rev. Graetz … that same faith lives in me. That faith moved a mountain of injustice, and there are still more mountains to move.

I believe wholeheartedly that my spring break was spent in the best way possible … in a true journey of the soul.

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