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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The importance of engagement

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

Day four of the 2011 Civil Rights Pilgrimage came to a successful ending. We had a rare opportunity to listen to a presentation by Stephen Black, who is the grandson of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Hugo Black was part of the Brown v. Board of Education court that struck down racial segregation. Mr. Black talked about the importance of civic engagement and the need to identify a passion or cause dear to our hearts and move forward with it.

Mr. Black said, “The biggest threat we face is not Al-Qaeda. I don’t think it’s another recession or the possibility of a worldwide banking crisis. At a much more fundamental level, the biggest challenge we all face is dealing with a 40-year trend toward civic disengagement – the time Americans spend engaged in relationships with people unlike themselves … aimed at purposes and causes beyond themselves.”

This message not only resonated with me but compelled me to evaluate my life in a whole new way. As an aspiring attorney, I now know that serving the underprivileged is no longer something I should do by choice, but a civic duty. I have an obligation to use my education to help lift the impoverished, the uneducated and the oppressed – not because it’s the nice thing to do, but because I am obligated to do so as a human being.

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