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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Where fear meets hope

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

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage is an exercise in the art of change. It is the concept of change that greeted us this morning. The Arkansas Gazette had on its front page the election of Representative Darrin Williams to be the first black Speaker of the House in the Arkansas legislature.

We can legislate policy; however, we cannot legislate fear and hope. It is this same concept – fear by the white Arkansans and hope by black Arkansans – that met at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The fear of what we don’t know still consumes the hearts of our citizens in 2012.

The triumph of hope over fear is what motivates our youth today. I see that in the eyes of some of our Civil Rights Pilgrims. With hope and no fear, we journeyed to Mississippi. It is the hope that we have overcome our past. I, like my peers, ask whether or not we have overcome. The answer as we travel the Delta is that we are further down the road than before.

Jackson, MS

In a small kitchen in Jackson, Mississippi, at the table where Medgar Evers planned Civil Rights programs, we plan our next goal.

Whether the goal is dinner or finding our place in the world, we are not troubled. Trouble is not being able to see past our differences. There we were, black and white in Jackson at night; sharing a laugh, not troubled by the “Ghosts of Mississippi, because we know ghosts live in the dark, and we live in the light.

Onward Pilgrims, we move forward to a day in which justice lives.

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