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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From fear to free

An update from Hiba, a junior majoring in biochemistry and human rights with a minor in Arabic:

I never realized how similar “fear” and “free” sound until today.

Today we were able to meet Ms. Jewel, an African-American woman whose family members were beaten and abused in the Mount Zion Church before the building of God was burned down because its members were trying to create freedom schools, freedom houses and more institutions to promote voting within the marginalized African-American community (better known as Freedom Summer).

Ms. Jewel discussed the hate omnipresent within the community – the KKK robes found in a white man’s home by an African-American maid who was cleaning and the knowledge that African-American children could not go to a particular store because of the white people running it. She decided to go to the North with her husband. Fear led her to leave her home for a new one. And, the idea of being free brought her back to her home in Mississippi to fight – fight to ensure that her story and the stories of others subjected to hate are in Mississippi textbooks; fight to make sure that true freedom is attained by those who desire it.

With her story in mind, we continued on our journey toward Selma. The bus drives are long, but they give me a chance to think about things that make us human, the things that make us want to fight, and the things that make us want to back down at times. It also makes for opportunities to bond with your fellow pilgrims and take bored pictures…..

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