SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012

During spring break 2012, students, faculty and staff are taking a nine-day bus ride through the American South to visit civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement. Political Science Professor Dennis Simon leads the pilgrimage with SMU’s Chaplain’s Office.

Keep on walking

An update from A'Rielle, an accounting major and ethnic studies minor: "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody..." "...turn me 'round" & they didn't. Selma, Alabama, is infamous for the horror that occurred on Bloody Sunday. Hundreds of civil rights participants gathered to march from Selma to the capital city of Montgomery to demand their voting rights. On their way out of Selma, they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There, law enforcement ordered the marchers to turn around, and when they didn't, troopers unleashed tear gas, drew weapons, and beat the nonviolent protestors. We met Ms. Joanne Bland early Monday morning at the National Voting Rights Museum, located right at the foot of the other side of that bridge. With her dynamic personality, she led [...]

2012-03-14T22:04:02+00:00 March 14th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

A salute to Taryn

An update from Sarah, a Master of Liberal Studies student: I am so proud of Taryn, my Pilgrimage roomie. Last night, civil rights leader Julian Bond asked for someone in our crowd (University of Virginia alums and SMU) to lead us in singing "I Saw the Light." No one jumped forward!  SMU called out Reverend Ray, one of our fearless leaders, but he was not familiar with the song. Taryn quietly said to us in the back that she knew the first lines. That's all it took for us to loudly prod her on (...that and a rather bold physical lift out of her chair by a UVA participant!) Taryn reluctantly went to the front of the room and led [...]

2012-03-14T21:21:41+00:00 March 14th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

Warriors don’t cry

An update from Ed, who is participating in the pilgrimage with his daughter, Janelle: Today the SMU Pilgrims met Joanne Bland. We recently read a book titled “Warriors Don’t Cry,” written by Little Rock Nine member, Melba Pattillo Beals, which captures the spirit of a warrior that is alive in many African-Americans. It is the spirit that allows you to stare down gun-toting sheriffs for the privilege to vote. It is the spirit that allows you to face godless cowards who misuse their authority to oppress rather than protect. It is the spirit that gets you to speak to countless people about your life and experience. Her spirit can’t be explained to those who may be surprised by her bluntness. To fight [...]

2012-03-13T20:49:13+00:00 March 13th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

Where did all the passion go?

An update from Janelle, who is participating in the pilgrimage with her father, Ed: This morning I paused for a brief moment in preparation for what I was going to experience in today’s journey. Before coming, I anticipated my visits to both the Pettus Bridge and the 16th Street Baptist church to be the most emotional. So far, I was right about the former. It evoked so much emotion and response that I’m frightened for tomorrow’s trip to the church. Remembering the story from the several references over the years was one thing, but I was going to hear it told from the mouth of someone who was there and I was going to be in that very place. Ms. [...]

2012-03-13T20:51:29+00:00 March 13th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

Selma’s Footsoldier

An update from Sarah, a Master of Liberal Studies student: Blanded. [Joanne] Blanded. I debated with myself whether or not to ask a question. If I raise my hand, it better be a good one! OK, go. JB: "Yes, what's your question?" me: Do you think that Selma will ever change the name of the Edmund Pettus Bridge? [Confederate General] The Bland Stare. JB: "Girl, what's wrong with you!" "No. Why would we want to do that?" If you erase the name of the bridge, people can say 'It wasn't so bad.' If you remove the bridge, people will say 'it never happened.' " Joanne Bland is a Selma Footsoldier in the true sense. She still is ... as they [...]

2012-03-13T15:24:45+00:00 March 13th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

‘What are you going to do?’

An update from Kim, a Master of Liberal Studies student: The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., is just as high and steep today as it was 47 years ago - and you can’t see what’s on the other side until you reach the very top. When 600 civil rights marchers moved slowly across the bridge on March 7, 1965, they didn’t see the line of Alabama State Troopers and sheriff’s deputies on horseback until they reached the crest.   The troopers were waiting for them with clubs and gas masks, but they kept walking. The marchers were ordered to disperse, and when they did not, the troopers and sheriff’s posse rushed the crowd - kicking men, women and children, [...]

2012-03-13T15:17:24+00:00 March 13th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

Sunday morning in Philadelphia

An update from Ed, who is participating in the pilgrimage with his daughter, Janelle: In the year 2012, the church is just as segregated as it was in 1965. We have come so far and sacrificed so much for us to forget God. God is the only one that can order our hearts to overcome hatred and bigotry. As much as we try as human beings, our success is much like those three who died in Mississippi that “Freedom Summer.” They died as one. They died with a goal to make freedom become a reality for others who did not have it. They, in their last moments, made their peace with their God; no doubt crying out in anguish for [...]

2012-03-12T20:36:16+00:00 March 12th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

The church and civil rights

An update from Janelle, who is participating in the pilgrimage with her father, Ed: “I woke up this morning with my mind, stayed on Jesus” After worshipping at its sister church, we visited Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. This is the church depicted in the movie Mississippi Burning that was burned down in 1964 in an effort to locate three Civil Rights workers who were later kidnapped and murdered. From what I overheard, a lot of people said they had never been to a church service like that. I’ve attended a Methodist church all my life, and although this morning’s church service was not different to me, it did reignite a new admiration for the part that church played in [...]

2012-03-12T20:33:48+00:00 March 12th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|

Freedom Summer murders

An update from Kim, a Master of Liberal Studies student: Traveling the deeply forested roads that wind through rural Neshoba County, Miss., it’s easy to imagine that things haven’t changed much since 1964 – but they have. The congregation rebuilt Mt. Zion Methodist Church after the Ku Klux Klan burned it down in 1964.  They rebuilt it again after it burned once more in 1971. When Jewell McDonald moved back to Neshoba County in 1994, 30 years after the summer the Klan beat her mother nearly to death and murdered three civil rights workers, she thought that the racial attitudes of local white residents had finally begun to change. She joined a multiethnic group of county residents who, in [...]

2012-03-12T15:42:26+00:00 March 12th, 2012|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2012|
Load More Posts