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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Warriors don’t cry

An update from Ed, who is participating in the pilgrimage with his daughter, Janelle:

Today the SMU Pilgrims met Joanne Bland. We recently read a book titled “Warriors Don’t Cry,” written by Little Rock Nine member, Melba Pattillo Beals, which captures the spirit of a warrior that is alive in many African-Americans.

It is the spirit that allows you to stare down gun-toting sheriffs for the privilege to vote. It is the spirit that allows you to face godless cowards who misuse their authority to oppress rather than protect. It is the spirit that gets you to speak to countless people about your life and experience.

Her spirit can’t be explained to those who may be surprised by her bluntness. To fight injustice, you must be blunt. Injustice does not respect weakness.

Joanne Bland is a woman who has seen, as Tupac Shakur once said, “so many tears, so many fears.” It is being able to see through those tears that empowers her to carry on.

Each year Joanne explains to those who think that Civil Rights is a past struggle that it lives today. Her spirit is a warrior spirit that will never die. For those who say Joanne Bland needs to tone it down, I say that maybe injustice has toned down, because warriors don’t cry.

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