Civil Rights Pilgrimage South

During Spring Break 2011, students, faculty and staff are taking an eight-day bus ride to the American South’s civil rights landmarks. Political Science Professor Dennis Simon leads the pilgrimage with SMU’s Chaplain’s Office.

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Changing the “social narrative” of racism

roza-essaw-90.jpgAn update from Roza, a sophomore majoring in communication studies and political science:

I have a feeling I might be saying this more than once, but today was hands down my favorite day of the week. The best part of this jampacked day was a surprise visit from Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine! I can’t believe that two days ago I spent time visiting the Little Rock Central High School Historical Site and taking pictures by the statues of the nine children, and today in Selma, Alabama, I got to meet Minnijean!

She took the time to talk to us for a few minutes, and blew all of us away with her intelligence and captivating presence. When I thought I had the story of the Little Rock Nine all figured out, she told me otherwise. Minnijean shared some important stories that had been left out of books. For example, we always hear about how Minnijean dumped a bowl of chili on a white student, but she told us that we never hear about the countless times white students did the same to her. Despite the trials and tribulations Minnijean encountered, she told us there wasn’t a single day when she didn’t walk away from her horrific experiences proud and confident.

I was just amazed at her level of tolerance and discipline. If I were in her situation I would have lost my temper or just given up, but she reminded us that all along she knew she was the intelligent one and her antagonists were the foolish ones. Not wanting to hand her opponents any victory, she kept on fighting. If Minnijean and the rest of the children had given up, the social narrative of racism and desegregation would still be alive today. However, thanks to the sacrifice they made, the “social narrative was interrupted.”

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