SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012

During spring break 2012, students, faculty and staff are taking a nine-day bus ride through the American South to visit civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement. Political Science Professor Dennis Simon leads the pilgrimage with SMU’s Chaplain’s Office.

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History is more than a story

An update from Janelle, who is participating in the pilgrimage with her father, Ed:

As I get ready to shove off into the waters of history, I think of the hundreds of stories about the civil rights era I’ve already been told, and the hundreds of stories I’ve already encountered.

I remember the times my father made my sisters and I watch Roots as a rite of passage. I remember the trip we took to The 6th Floor Museum before the Independent School District decided we were old enough to understand what happened and its importance. I remember sitting at the feet of my great-grandmother listening to her talk about her grandfather, who was a slave. I remember her telling me the jobs she had to take, and I compare that to the fact that I’ve always been told I can be anything I want to be.

The stories I’m going to hear this week and the people I’m going to learn about are the reason I can be anything I want to be. I am because they were.

This week’s motto: I will learn something new. Maybe I won’t learn a new story, but I’ll learn new facets to a story I already know. I will gain more insight. This week, history will not just be words on paper. It will be a living, breathing thing. It won’t be a story. It will be a life, a contribution. This week, history will be motivation for me to find a way to make my mark on this world. It will not be just precedence, but a standard.
This week, history will find a way to touch the lives of 41 people in one way or another. And whether we know it or not, at least one moment will stay with us for a lifetime. The question is, how will that moment serve as a catalyst to help the betterment of society and the individual lives we touch? How will we pick up where they left off?

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