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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Our life-changing week

An update from Bettye, a graduate student in Liberal Studies:

As we are on our final few days of a truly life-changing week, I reflect on how privileged we are to have met some of the icons of the civil rights movement:

  • Standing near the son of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Listening to the preachings of Mr. Jesse Jackson
  • Hearing the wisdom of the words of U.S. Rep. John Lewis
  • Sharing a meal with the Rev. and Mrs. Graetz
  • Shaking the hand of Mr. Julian Bond
  • Sitting in Mt. Zion Church with the children of the victims of beatings in Philadelphia, Mississippi

image I am humbled by each of these leaders in the march to freedom. But it is not those who have now taken a place in my heart.

It is people like Alma, who sat beside me at a bus stop in Montgomery, Alabama. We were waiting to board our bus to continue our journey into the Deep South, and she was waiting for a bus to take her to the doctor. She told me about her family, about living her entire life in Montgomery, about refusing to ride on the buses during the strikes, about being a maid until she was 68 years old, about having known Rosa Parks, about at one time never believing that her life would have changed so much. She was beautiful. She was endearing. She was funny. She is now a part of me.

Keep marching!

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