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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To the sons and daughters who risked their lives

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 takes to kill three people in cold blood – not for any crimes except the crime of association. We are traveling in a bus full of diverse individuals; we are all from different backgrounds, yet I feel no distinction among us. However, people at that time felt so strongly that they could forget their humanity to preserve their ideal of a society.

As a mother, I couldn’t imagine the courage it must have taken for Chaney’s mother to allow him to take part in the movement. And not just Chaney’s mother, but many others who let their sons and daughters become a part of something much greater even though it meant risking their lives. I feel as a mother that my heart goes out to all the mothers who lost their children in the fight for basic civil liberties afforded to every American but not recognized for those with colored skin.

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