Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015

On this eight-day bus journey, SMU students, faculty and staff visit the American South’s civil rights landmarks and meet people who participated in and witnessed the movement. They will be joining thousands from around the world who are marching across Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The trip is sponsored by the SMU Chaplain’s Office and led by Dennis Simon, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of political science, and Ray Jordan.

50 Years Later… The March Continues

An update from a Civil Rights Pilgrim: Left and right What's wrong was might Keep marching on We're more than pawns Together by will Divided we spill The march goes on, At patient speed The march goes on, For the justice we seek United by the dignity, All deserve to preserve. United by experiences, We put a peaceful foot forward. Allied with friends, To freedom march toward. Left, right, we breathe a rhythm so true. Futures belong to those who do good. Any day we've waited was another day too long Never again can we settle, so we march with our songs. Keep marching on, Hymns singing our blues. Freedom's tapping life from under our shoes. We have drunk from [...]

2015-03-24T17:00:08+00:00 March 19th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|

A time to process

An update from Dr. Dennis Simon, who leads the Civil Rights Pilgrimage: On Saturday night at approximately 9 PM, forty weary Pilgrims got off the chartered bus at the location where they boarded, with great anticipation, eight days earlier. The Pilgrims gathered their luggage, shook hands, hugged and said their temporary goodbyes. Thirty minutes later, all that remained was the quiet of a near empty campus. What next? I wonder about our extraordinary driver. Did he hear the echoes of the songs as he drove the bus to the depot in Arlington? “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on freedom …” “We are soldiers in the army …" “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn us round ...” “Ain’t [...]

2015-03-18T16:07:55+00:00 March 16th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|

The end of my pilgrimage, but not the journey

An update from Laura Lisa, a Master of Liberal Studies student in Organizational Dynamics (culture and business): As we approached the end of the 2015 SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage, I found myself feeling sad, overwhelmed, transformed, humbled and honored, yearning to do more. I am a non-traditional student and remember all of these landmark events while I was growing up. Even so, being physically present in Selma and Montgomery, AL, Philadelphia, Jackson and Oxford, MS and finally Memphis, TN, had a profound and chilling effect on me. It was as if I had stepped back in time. Specifically, the Jacob Burkle Estate Museum in Memphis was most chilling and brought tears to my eyes. It was owned by a German [...]

2015-03-19T11:24:55+00:00 March 16th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|

An unfathomable hate

An update from Tate, a sophomore human rights major: This trip was a lot to take in, but what really hit me was the murder of Medgar Evers at his home. The realness of his murder, and the other murders of Civil Rights Soldiers, just didn’t seem as real to me until I was told the type of gun it was. I grew up in a family of hunters, and I have shot the same type of rifle that killed Evers. I even have a bullet casing in my room that I kept as a souvenir of the first animal I shot with it. I just still can’t imagine the amount of hatred the man who shot Evers could have [...]

2015-04-02T16:49:29+00:00 March 16th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|

The music of the movement

An update from Tom, a Master of Liberal Studies student studying human rights: The Stax Museum in Memphis was amazing and the ideal, uplifting closing activity to leave us with some bounce in our step. If I had come in with any doubts (and I don't think I had) as to the integral role of music in the Movement, then every single museum and speaker has put those doubts to rest... and the Stax Museum captured the power of the music as it began to spread beyond the churches and the Movement and into mainstream America. I had met Johnnie Taylor years ago, when his daughter was in my 6th grade homeroom at Greenhill, so it was fun to learn [...]

2015-03-24T17:08:08+00:00 March 16th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|

The Dream is real at BB Kings

An update from Garrett, a junior double majoring in business management and public policy: On our last night of the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, many of my fellow pilgrims and I ate at BB King’s Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee. I ate with individuals of different races, beliefs, and walks of life. I could not help but thinking that this was a small portion of the Dream that Martin Luther King had hoped for. Earlier that day I had walked through the National Civil Rights Museum inside of the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated. I learned so much information about the struggle for Civil Rights and how far we have come as a nation and as a people. However, [...]

2015-03-16T17:00:22+00:00 March 15th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|


An update from Ella, a senior majoring in human rights: It was at the Freedom Riders Museum in Montgomery, Ala., that I learned the importance of place in discovering history. Something like segregation of bus terminals, walking into the building and seeing the layout is impressionable in a way that descriptions in writings fail to conjure. I noticed this trend of the significance of place at more sites – grounds upon which brutal violence took place. Quite literally, the pavestones cry out. Now sealed up with colorful tiles, this used to be the "colored entrance" at the Montgomery, Ala. bus station. The Edmund Pettus Bridge – iconic, oft photographed, a symbol of Bloody Sunday – what more could [...]

2015-03-17T15:36:11+00:00 March 15th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|

Selma slow to change

An update from Ella, a senior majoring in human rights: Selma, Alabama It’s a name that graces history lessons and is synonymous with the voting rights struggle of African Americans. Yet looking at the actual small town nestled along a curve of the Alabama River, its appearance belies its fame and historical significance. As a vanguard of change, one would think that it would be the first to partake of the fruits of change. But Selma is stuck on a pause button. This is not to say there hasn't been improvement – just not the stellar progressiveness a student from the 21st century might assume for the epicenter of the voting rights struggle. For one, economic progress is slow for [...]

2015-03-17T15:39:22+00:00 March 15th, 2015|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2015|
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