An update from Jaeidah R., a senior studying biological sciences and Jewish studies: So far, I have only been in Israel for 1 day, and it is the day that we walked the city of Jerusalem, exploring all of the biblical stories that have occurred here. From the time that I landed in Tel-Aviv I knew that this land is one that I have dreamed about my entire life. Growing up Christian, these stories shaped everything about my beliefs and expectations for my adult life. As we walked the streets of Jerusalem, and our tour guide vividly explained these stories, I felt myself transported into the times of ancient Jerusalem. When we finally entered the area that most Jews [...]
Reverend Robert Graetz was the only white minister in Montgomery willing to help Dr. King with the bus boycott, with Associate Professor and trip leader Ben Voth. "I was honored to give this civil rights hero my book about my favorite civil rights hero James Farmer Jr.," says Voth.
First Baptist Church in Montgomery, where Freedom Riders were trapped in 1961. Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where King was first pastor and led the Montgomery bus boycott.
An update from Jaeidah R., a senior studying biological sciences and Jewish studies: Today was the day that we were scheduled to visit Yad Vashem, the National Israel Holocaust Memorial museum. Our guide previously informed us that this visit was not one to depress us, but just inform us of the Israeli narrative for the creation of Israel and the future that Israelis see for themselves. Naturally, I took this with a grain of salt. The memorial of millions of lives lost, no matter how many times it is commemorated, is one of the most disheartening emotions for one to experience. As we got off of the bus, there was immediately a jaw-dropping landscape, one side covered with the natural [...]
An update from student Tannah O.: Today we visited the Civil Rights Memorial, the historic Dexter Avenue Church, and the Equal Justice Initiative office in Montgomery, Alabama. The Civil Rights Memorial was powerful, to say the least. It had an exhibit to memorialize the 40 people killed in direct relation to the modern Civil Rights Movement, which of course included so many of the faces we have learned about so far on this trip (Till, Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman, Liuzzo, Reeb, Evers and King) along with so many other people brutally murdered by hate groups like the KKK. In another room, contemporary issues of hate were addressed, such as the deaths of Heather Heyer (woman who was killed at the Charlottesville riot protesting against the alt-right), Islan [...]
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, [...]
During the SMU Embrey Human Rights Program’s first study trip to Israel March 8-17, a group of 26 SMU students, faculty and staff and community members focused on learning about the country’s most pressing humanitarian issues – from the Palestinian crisis to refugee and LGBTQ rights. While staying in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Tel Aviv, the trip-goers visited sites steeped in both ancient history and ongoing controversy.
An update from student Justin E.: Today we were exposed to the Tuskegee Syphilis study conducted by the United States Public Health Service. This federally funded medical study raised questions about bioethics and medical research guidelines. In 1932, Dr. Tolliver Clark decided to exploit poor, rural African Americans using deception to discover the natural course of syphilis in the human body. He recruited 600 black men, 399 with syphilis and 201 without. African American nurse Eunice Rivers helped recruit and deceive the men that participated in the study. Essentially, the physician pretended to treat the infected men, but in reality simply observed how their bodies were affected by syphilis. The study lasted until Peter Buxton, who worked for the [...]
During spring break 2018, students, faculty and staff take an eight-day bus journey to visit the American South’s civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement. Led by Ben Voth, SMU director of debate and associate professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, the 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.
From Ruhi D. a first-year pre-business major: Today, about 70 years after the end of the second world war, the effects of the Holocaust are still felt today. Each picture holds a memory. Each memorial is filled with tears. And each site still echoes with the cries of all the lives lost. The air around each site gets thicker and thicker, and each site visited feels just a little bit harder to breathe in. The aura around each camp or memorial transports you back in time to feel a fraction of the pain felt by the innocent people not even a century ago. Each camp feels so alive, yet so dead at the same time. Alive from the fresh memories [...]