SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013

During spring break 2013, 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 the SMU Chaplain’s Office.

National Voting Museum and Tabernacle Baptist Church

An update from Jazmin, a senior majoring in Spanish: “Being a Negro in America means trying to smile when you want to cry. It means trying to hold on to physical life amid psychological death. It means the pain of watching your children grow up with clouds of inferiority in their mental skies. It means having your legs cut off, and then being condemned for being a cripple.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here, 1967 Our day started off at the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Alabama. This place was overwhelmed with artifacts and history of the events that occurred during the journey towards voting rights for people of color. I was [...]

2013-03-21T21:22:06+00:00 March 12th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Choosing nonviolence

An update from Hiba, a junior majoring in biochemistry and human rights with a minor in Arabic: Growing up takes patience with yourself and with those around you. Selma, Alabama, is a quaint old town that values its history. It is a place where relics of the past stare at you and say "do not forget our history": you can see the divide between the tiny rickety houses where African-Americans lived on one side of railroad and the beautiful antebellum houses of the white people on the other side. While driving around, you will see old theaters with a blacks-only entrance at the side and a county courthouse that you might associate with great protests and riots. Most important and most [...]

2013-03-13T14:57:41+00:00 March 11th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Our right to vote

An update from Michael, a sophomore majoring in human rights and religious studies and minoring in Arabic and ethics: Today in Selma we had the privilege of speaking with some foot soldiers of the civil rights movement. One thread that ran through their speeches was the importance of voting. I heard what actually had to take place for all people to vote. This strengthened my resolve to remain politically active. I was slightly disappointed with some of the local races in the last election, and was feeling a little discouraged. This inspired me to continue with my efforts to encourage people to vote, and to not take that right for granted.

2013-03-12T14:34:14+00:00 March 11th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

‘Ella’s Song’ and Medgar Evers’ home

An update from Erin, a senior majoring in history and human rights: We watched "Ghosts of Mississippi" on the way to Jackson today. Incredible. It was definitely the best acting that Whoopi Goldberg has ever done, and that's including "Ghost." I even loved Alec Baldwin in the film; it's the only thing I've ever seen him in that I liked. Its depiction of the long, bitter struggle for justice concerning the cold-blooded murder of Jackson civil rights activist Medgar Evers by Byron De La Beckwith, the epitome of white supremacists, was masterful. The entire time we were watching it, indeed, the entire day, I've had the well-known protest song "Ella's Song" stuck in my head: "We who believe in freedom [...]

2013-03-21T21:08:01+00:00 March 11th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Pilgrimage Day 2: Mount Zion Church

An update from Jazmin, a senior majoring in Spanish: Today we went to Mount Zion Church, where two white men and one African American man – Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney – worked during Freedom Summer just before their gruesome murders. The three activists were heavily involved in the civil rights movement, where equality was always a priority. Because Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were both white men who supported the movement, the Ku Klux Klan became intimidated by the kind of power and success the movement would obtain with white men on its side. The three men had been working to register black voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer. After investigating the burning of a church, the group [...]

2013-03-14T17:47:59+00:00 March 11th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

From fear to free

An update from Hiba, a junior majoring in biochemistry and human rights with a minor in Arabic: I never realized how similar "fear" and "free" sound until today. Today we were able to meet Ms. Jewel, an African-American woman whose family members were beaten and abused in the Mount Zion Church before the building of God was burned down because its members were trying to create freedom schools, freedom houses and more institutions to promote voting within the marginalized African-American community (better known as Freedom Summer). Ms. Jewel discussed the hate omnipresent within the community – the KKK robes found in a white man's home by an African-American maid who was cleaning and the knowledge that African-American children could not go [...]

2013-03-13T14:58:05+00:00 March 10th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Pilgrimage Day 1: Little Rock Central High School

An update from Jazmin, a senior majoring in Spanish: Little Rock Central High School “The effort to separate ourselves whether by race, creed, color, religion, or status is as costly to the separator as to those who would be separated.” – Melba Pattillo Beals Today was the first official day of our pilgrimage. Our group got to go to Little Rock Central High School where in 1957, nine African American students attempted, for the first time, to integrate the school. On May 17, 1954 the United States Court issued Brown v. Board of Education, which declared by law that segregated schools  be unconstitutional. With this law being passed, the United States was entitled to desegregate all schools throughout the nation. [...]

2013-03-14T18:14:56+00:00 March 10th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

The long walk to Little Rock Central High

An update from Hiba, a junior majoring in biochemistry and human rights with a minor in Arabic: “The task that remains is to cope with our interdependence – to see ourselves reflected in every other human being and to respect and honor our differences.” – Melba Beals In 1957, nine warriors chose to cross a wide threshold (in reality, only a few yards), separating what society deemed appropriate and what they knew to be true. They stepped onto Little Rock Central High School's campus, and history was made. Nine warriors –probably a better description would be nine teenagers, who were at most five years younger than me – represented the first steps toward actualized equality by walking into the high school. [...]

2013-03-13T14:58:45+00:00 March 9th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|
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