An update from Dennis Simon, associate professor of political science: This is my seventh year of serving as the faculty leader of the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage. As we departed campus on Friday afternoon, I found myself thinking about why traveling for eight days over a welcomed spring break does not grow old. Why have I not become tired of this enterprise? After some travel and discussion time “on the road,” it becomes easy to answer the question. First, I get to renew my partnership with Ray Jordan, whose title of trip coordinator drastically understates his role, contribution, and value to the pilgrimage. His many talents, including perspective and insight, never fail to impress the Pilgrims and make this journey [...]
The José Marti memorial and the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana. Our group is off today to Plaza de la Revolución to see the memorial and museum honoring José Martí. He was considered by Fidel Castro to be the intellectual author of the revolution, and the story of his 42 brief years of life (mid- to late-1800s) is riveting. First imprisoned by the Spanish in Cuba for revolutionary ideas at age 16, he was deported to Spain after six months. There he earned a university degree, excelling in several fields. His poetry – along with 89 quotations inscribed throughout the museum walls – is inspiring. The breadth of his accomplishments is breathtaking, and he is remarkable by [...]
An update from Donna, a Master of Liberal Studies student: Little Rock Central High School is architecturally beautiful. When you view the grandeur of the building, it is hard to conceive of what awaited the Little Rock Nine. Unwelcomed, harassed, assaulted, hated, the young people persevered. Every day they went to war. Every day they faced the same hatred. Every day hoping today would be different. Every day it was not. They were so young to possess and display such nonviolent courage. The state of Arkansas installed sculptures in bronze of the nine on the Capitol grounds. The sculptures are a lovely representation of the students' courage and tenacity for all to see. Each one is unique, as each of [...]
On the road The night before, our class drove from Alexandria to Colonial Williamsburg. The drive was … cramped, to say the least, but we made it safely to our destination. This morning, we would have the opportunity to explore the colonial town for the first time. Our first day in Williamsburg didn’t have a lot of structure compared to the other days. We would meet as a class, walk to the town, and split up except for lunch and dinner. At the Governor's Palace A majority of us met up at the Governor’s Palace, where we walked around the grounds before entering the house. We enjoyed looking at the elaborate set-up, exclaiming over brightly colored [...]
An update from Basma, a senior political science and communication studies major: As I watched the story of James Chaney, Andy Goodman and Mickey Schwerner on my way to Meridian, Mississippi, and their struggle to fight for a basic civil liberty, the right to vote, I was overwhelmed: their devotion as an African-American, a Jewish man and a white man all working together, even though that was not accepted by the society at large. I mean, when it’s your own struggle and it’s your own problem, it’s easier to fight for it, but for you to leave your happy life and come down to help those who are suffering is truly remarkable. I couldn't believe the amount of hatred it [...]
2014 marks the 10th Anniversary of the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage. The eight-day bus journey takes students, faculty and staff to visit the American South’s civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement.