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.

Freedom music

An update from Harvey, a junior majoring in economics and political science: After a full week of inspiring stories, historical context, and personal bonds, music summed up all of the emotions of this trip for me. Visiting the STAX Museum in Memphis has made me realize the importance of music in keeping up the spirits of many in the Civil Rights Movement. It's important to mention that it was the struggle toward equality that gave African-Americans and their allies the drive to do what they did, but it was also music that played a part in reminding them what they were fighting for. It reminds me of what they were fighting for. In other words, freedom music – as I shall [...]

2013-03-18T20:58:48+00:00 March 18th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

A spring break packed with history

An update from Katherine, a junior majoring in political science and English with a minor in Russian-area studies: Yesterday I got back from the 2013 SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage, and I cannot express how much more enlightened I feel. Being African-American, I knew the trip would be good for me because it would give me a better sense of what a lot of my older relatives went through. Now that I am back I can say that I did achieve that knowledge and even more. There are a couple of activities that we got to do that I want to describe because they had a significant impact on me. Montgomery, Alabama, was probably the location where I learned the most [...]

2013-03-18T20:27:19+00:00 March 17th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|


An update from Erin, a senior majoring in history and human rights: Well, we’ve done it. We’ve said our last goodbyes to Alabama. Part of me is sad to leave because the most incredible memories of the trip, for me, took place in Alabama. Erin at the Civil Rights Memorial Museum in downtown Montgomery, Alabama The other part of me, though, is beginning to get anxious about returning home. I’ve seen so much on this trip, learned so much on this trip, and have been flooded by so many emotions on this trip that I feel I just need some time alone in my apartment with a mug of hot tea, in my favorite old sweater, my personal [...]

2013-03-18T19:33:00+00:00 March 15th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Meeting heroes of the Movement

An update from Ana Sophia, a senior human rights major with a minor in French: The Civil Rights pilgrimage has proved to be a beautiful trip that not only tells, but also brings to life American history. It is surprising to discover how many important facts are untold in American history about the Civil Rights Movement that I learned in Dr. Simon's Civil Rights course. Furthermore, it is astonishing to discover how much more there is to these stories and events once you experience visiting certain sites, and especially, meeting various Civil Rights heroes. This trip provides an invaluable opportunity for students to meet the heroes of a Movement that took place not long ago. It is an honor and a [...]

2013-03-15T16:32:57+00:00 March 14th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Day 6: Montgomery/Tuskegee

An update from Hayley, a junior majoring in anthropology, French and human rights: Our first stop this morning was the Rosa Parks museum, and I really enjoyed the experience. I was a bit hesitant at first because I have been to some strange “interactive” museums, but this one truly captured the spirit of the Montgomery bus boycott. Watching the re-enactment of Rosa Parks’ arrest made me picture being surrounded by a mob of jeering and rude faces. Her stoicism and courage in this moment was reflected in the film, and her sense of unwavering calm was inspiring. After the museum, Sorsha, Erin, Yusra, and I visited the Alabama state capitol as well as the Supreme Court building. The capitol was [...]

2013-03-21T21:21:14+00:00 March 14th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Being ordinary

An update from Hiba, a junior majoring in biochemistry and human rights with a minor in Arabic: Hiba on Martin Luther King Jr.'s porch in Montgomery Perhaps the most beautiful thing about change is that it often comes in the form of a person. Not an extraordinary person. Just an ordinary person. It is that ordinary person — the one who lives under the same house that you and I consider “home,” who is plagued by the same fears you and I wonder about late at the night, and who unearths strength from the same kind of love that we associate with family, in religion, or in people. Today was a reminder of that concept. If you ask a [...]

2013-03-20T19:09:10+00:00 March 13th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Where Dr. King felt doubt

An update from Michelle, a sophomore human rights and anthropology major: Montgomery, Alabama, is a city full of history in regards to the civil rights movement. We saw only a part of that today, including the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King was pastor, the Civil Rights Memorial, the Dexter Parsonage and the Freedom Riders Museum. We had an awesome talk with Reverend and Mrs. Graetz, Vera Harris and her daughter. One moment of the day that really stuck out to me was when we were visiting the Parsonage, where the King family lived from 1956 to 1960. His house looked just as I imagined any house to look at the time. While in that stereotypical kitchen, [...]

2013-03-13T16:37:00+00:00 March 12th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Our point of uncertainty

An update from Genesis, a junior political science and human rights major: Today was filled with so many things. The Civil Rights Memorial, Alabama State University lunch, King Parsonage, Dexter Avenue Church and dinner with the Gretzes, Veera Harris and Dr. Varla Montgomery at O'Dessa's. Where to begin? Where to begin? Well, the Civil Rights Memorial is amazing because it fills in the places where other museums leave off. Such as the 13-year-old boy who was killed the same day as the church bombing that killed four little girls. It keeps not only its visitors but also the world abreast of those who continually want to spread hatred. Lunch at Alabama State University was fun. At this HBCU (historically black college [...]

2013-03-18T19:47:47+00:00 March 12th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|

Reminders of racism

An update from Hayley, a junior majoring in anthropology, French and human rights: Day three was a really fun, rejuvenating day! I managed to stay awake for the documentary about Nashoba County on the way from Jackson to Philadelphia. The story is so fascinating.  I found it so sad when Chaney’s mother was interviewed, saying that if none of the victims had been white, then her son’s case never would have been touched. It was honestly despicable. His family had to suffer just like the other two victims' families. The most enraging part of the film, however, was any interview with Killen.  That he could still harbor so much hatred for a people that had never done anything to him was unbelievable. It reminded me [...]

2013-03-12T22:27:41+00:00 March 12th, 2013|SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2013|
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