SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013

During spring break 2013, 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 the SMU Chaplain’s Office.

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Freedom music

An update from Harvey, a junior majoring in economics and political science:

After a full week of inspiring stories, historical context, and personal bonds, music summed up all of the emotions of this trip for me. Visiting the STAX Museum in Memphis has made me realize the importance of music in keeping up the spirits of many in the Civil Rights Movement. It’s important to mention that it was the struggle toward equality that gave African-Americans and their allies the drive to do what they did, but it was also music that played a part in reminding them what they were fighting for.

It reminds me of what they were fighting for. In other words, freedom music – as I shall call it – is an emotional tool that paints a future that overcomes discrimination and injustice. Music is a note that recognizes the struggles of the time in hopes of progressing toward a better future where we all shall overcome.

The horrific and very real images of the movement created a sense of sadness, anger, and stress inside me. It was music that reconciled these emotions in a positive way for me. This is not to say that the whole movement should be seen in a positive mood; we can never forget the wounds of racism. Nonetheless, when I woke up every morning of the trip realizing that freedom stayed on my mind, it was a reminder of the testament of the human spirit that was championed by those before me.

I can never truly understand those who faced the injustice of racism in the context they lived in. However, through their stories, and freedom music, I truly feel that emotional bond to their struggle and that fire inside them to continue the unfinished movement toward equality.

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