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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Our point of uncertainty

An update from Genesis, a junior political science and human rights major:

Today was filled with so many things. The Civil Rights Memorial, Alabama State University lunch, King Parsonage, Dexter Avenue Church and dinner with the Gretzes, Veera Harris and Dr. Varla Montgomery at O’Dessa’s. Where to begin? Where to begin?

Well, the Civil Rights Memorial is amazing because it fills in the places where other museums leave off. Such as the 13-year-old boy who was killed the same day as the church bombing that killed four little girls. It keeps not only its visitors but also the world abreast of those who continually want to spread hatred. Lunch at Alabama State University was fun. At this HBCU (historically black college and university), I wonder how my life would be different if I went there.

Next, I’ll talk about the Dexter Avenue Church and the Parsonage where the Kings stayed. It’s always a walk back in time to go to these places because they contain the same furniture from that time and these museums have worked hard to preserve the time period.

This is my favorite part of the whole trip because I am obsessed with Martin Luther King’s enlightenment. Because oftentimes we set Dr. King on a platform, with a god-like presence that can’t be touched. He sits above us and changed the world, and was assassinated. All the good ones usually are – Jesus, Malcolm X, JFK, so many others.

But I love this part because it humanizes the great man whom we all celebrate, MLK. Even in all of his greatness he had that point of uncertainty. A point where he had to tap into a source deeper and greater than himself; he realized he couldn’t handle it all. It’s a point I think we all get to, where everything stops for us and we have to look up to our source of strength and ask, Are we going in the right direction?

It is this reflection that I love because oftentimes in our quest of purpose and destiny, our own mind and those circumstances that surround us cause us to question ourselves. However it is in those times where we must look up and receive a word from the God that placed us on this earth, just as Dr. King did.

Last but not least the EXCELLENT dinner at Odessa’s and the great stories and conversations with the Gretzes, Veera Harris, Dr. Montgomery, and her grandchildren. The amount of history and love that was shown in that room fills me up. Through these individuals I have truly learned that love is not an action, it is not even a way of life, but it envelops you in the same manner that hatred does – it just has a better outcome. Love is shown all over these four people, and their love toward justice and love toward doing what is right inspires me.

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