An update from student Sadiya P.:

Today’s trip, we visited one of my utmost favorite place and organization ever: the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)/Civil Rights Memorial Center.

Ever since I got into activism and human rights as a teenager, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been one of my inspirations. It is the type of work I want to commit to. They have done so much in creating awareness in regards to the many different types of hate groups and discrimination that exist in the United States as well as around the world. As a Muslim, they were one of the organizations I could always trust to clarify hate groups and hate mongers. They have inspired a young girl, struggling to fit in and wanting to create change and a more loving world, to give her all and not let hate get you down. There are ways to confront it, and use it to rise and create change. It is all about spreading awareness and igniting knowledge in communities and advocating change.

At Dexter’s Baptist Church, sitting in the aisles looking at the pulpit where Dr. King once stood was surreal. I had goosebumps all over my arms. Holding hands with everyone, singing and embracing the love Dr. King helped bring into America was overwhelming. To tightly hug strangers I have never met was heartwarming. I could imagine the smile it would have brought on Dr. King’s face to see people of all color, religions, and walks of life embracing each other in love and respect in his church. The church where he preached and called for love and dignity for all humans. What a blessing to experience these moments in the place where he once stood and prayed for this to happen.

The people in the church were so wonderfully warm, when the church lady asked me my name and hugged me so tight and thanked me for being there, I felt myself tear up. She welcomed me and thanked me for being present, as she held me in Dr. King’s office in the church. Who would have imagined this happening in the 1960s? Dr. King did, he prayed for this, and here it was, in 2018, two very different individuals of different faiths and ethnicity expressing gratitude and love. Oh how happy he would have been. Wish he was here to see the love he ignited in so many people’s hearts.

But again, here we are in 2018, and still fighting racial discrimination, poverty and discriminatory criminal justice systems as we learned from the work of the brilliant Equal Justice Initiative. So as much as the change Dr. King and his fellow comrades brought, there still exists more work for us to complete. Now it is our turn to take up the torch of justice and march for equal dignity and rights of all humans.