Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014

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. The group’s stops include Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King served as pastor; the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated.

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I am here now

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

We traveled to Selma, Alabama, earlier this week and were privileged to have Joanne Bland guide us through Selma’s history and take us back in time to her participation in the civil rights movement. Ray Jordan, one of our leaders, warned us she had a big personality – and that she did.

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Mollie and Joanne Bland

Amongst my fellow pilgrims, I was trying to blend in and follow Joanne’s explicit rules and instructions. Naturally, as I’m trying to avoid drawing attention to myself, Joanne asks me to come stand by her. (As a side note, she called me Ray Charles because we apparently resemble each other. I’m just guessing it had something to do with my sunglasses.) As I stood next to Joanne, she looked me in the eyes and said to me, by the grace of God you were born the color you are, and because of that you have not had to suffer like I had to. I could not find the words to respond to her remark.

Throughout this journey I constantly ask myself, where would I have been if I were alive in 1965? Although I hope and pray I would have been at Joanne’s side fighting for justice, I won’t ever know the answer to that, but what I do know is that I am here now. As we have heard repeatedly this week, the fight is not over, and I am here now.

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