Saturday, March 28, 2015
During our time in Little Rock Arkansas we delved into many themes, but there were two that I found extremely interesting. The first thing that caught my interest is the Work that Heifer International is carrying out. I think the work they are doing is so important. They take the time to teach sustainability, instead of simply going somewhere and providing food. I think it is great that they teach the people how to use what they are given to survive. If they just went into a place and gave them food or water every day it makes the people reliant on someone else instead of themselves and when that resource leaves they are right back to where they started. It is so important to teach skills and with any social justice work you have to do more than go in and do something and then leave. You must leave something behind that can help the people continue the good work. They are also a green company which shows they are not only trying to change how others live but they are making a positive change in their own country. The second theme I saw was the importance of education. This was seen at Little Rock Central High School. Education is extremely important and can lead to so many more advantages once the need for education is met. The events that took place at the high school are important and I believe everyone needs to know about it. The struggle that those nine African American students went through to get the education they deserve is unbelievable. Every person no matter what race should have equal education and Little Rock Central High School is a reminder that so many children were not allowed equal rights. While we have come so far we still must work to continue to make sure that no children have to suffer and fight to have the same educational rights as others.
New Orleans is rich with history, like many other cities in the south; however, it has many aspects that make it different from others. New Orleans has an extremely diverse set of cultures that many other cities do not have. So many different people were in New Orleans such as the French, enslaved Africans, Americans, and others. These different groups originally had their own unique traditions and cultures. Once these groups began to mix, it created entirely new groups that fused different cultures together. While this often led to groups that were discriminated against it caused groups to form distinct cultures among themselves. This variety and diversity can still be seen throughout New Orleans today. This is evident from the variety of food to the different styles of music. As you walk down Bourbon Street it was exciting to see the many types of people all mingling in one place. It makes the city so different from a city such as Atlanta where it is not as diverse. In cities like Atlanta and Birmingham there is not as much of a variety of cultures. It is mainly divided between blacks and whites. There are, of course, other races, but not in the majority. You can notice a difference in New Orleans, because you can feel and see the history in the diversity and way of life that is not as obvious in other southern cities. Another thing that I found interesting is something that I learned about slaves in New Orleans. I was told on a tour that slaves could go free through legal ways. They could actually buy their way out of slavery. I had not heard anywhere else we traveled that a slave could have the opportunity to make themselves free. I found it very interesting and it made New Orleans stand out.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Every city always has things that need to be fixed and Selma is no exception.
Selma is a historic town filled with many wonderful people, however, the schools are still segregated and that needs to be changed. It is so important that students, no matter what their race, are given proper education. In Selma the majority of the white children go to the private schools and the other children go to public schools. Education is so important and it is a stepping stone to being successful in the future. If the schools are segregated children will continue to receive unequal education which will keep them from having equal opportunities in the future. If we can re-integrate the schools then children of different races can learn to work with one another and this will continue after school, hopefully desegregating other areas of life as well, such as neighborhoods. While my school was very diverse there were still many schools around me where there was limited integration. For example, the private schools are predominately white. It is important that parents in my town think about their child's experience with diversity in addition to considering the academic standings. A child can receive just as rigorous an education at a school where there are various socio economic backgrounds. In fact, I believe they can learn more and become a more rounded person by being exposed to different types of people who come from different backgrounds and experiences. It helps give children the knowledge that not everyone is like them and teaches kids to interact and work together. Because even though people may look different, everyone deserves the same respect and access to opportunities. This is important to me because while my school had much diversity and great opportunity, there are many more around the country and Wisconsin that do not. A child’s access to and level of education should not be based on their skin color.
What stood out the most to me today was the civil rights memorial. It was so beautiful and powerful to feel the names of the martyrs who gave their lives. I also think it is great that there is a pool of water that allows you to see your reflection in the memorial. It made me feel like I was a part of the movement. I think the structure of the memorial was so well thought out, not only for the names engraved and the water, but also because the middle of the memorial has a blank space. It is inspiring and makes you realize that the movement is not over and there is still more work for us to do. The pursuit of equality, fairness and civil rights do not end with the names on the memorial and we must continue the work.
It really made me feel empowered to want to continue working toward these causes. The names listed at the monument, and many more, lost their lives to work to end civil injustice, and I believe we must follow in their footsteps and help continue their work. The memorial invoked so many emotions and really made me reflect on all the sacrifices that have been made by others before me. I felt a mixture of gratitude but also a sense of great sadness that these events occurred.
However, it is important to not dwell on all the sadness in the world but use these situations to make positive change.
While the memorial honors the people whose lives were taken, it really opens my eyes to the horrific past. So many innocent lives were taken for no reason other than the color of their skin. We must not only focus on all the things that are wrong in the world, but it is extremely important not to sugar coat what happened and realize seriousness in very situation.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
This image stands out to me because of the images of slaves and native peoples portrayed on the murals. I noticed at first glance at these paintings on the sides of the dome are greatly romanticized and made positive in a morbid, sickly way. The painting including African-American slaves was accompanied by a caption of positive words such as “efficiency” and “progress”. Also, the images of the two male slaves were smiling as well as fully clothed. Both of these details are unrealistic and would not have occurred in the real time in which it took place. Slaves were denied decent clothes to work in and they were not smiling while their master was controlling their lives. Next, the image of the Native American tribe of Tuscaloosa was inaccurate. The meeting of white men with this tribe was known to have been violent and brutal. The mural shows a meeting without the hostility white men showed to the native people. Also, the women in the mural were not clothed decently, while the men are fully dressed. This portrays them as sexual objects. These discrepancies between the paintings on the dome of the Alabama State Capitol building and historical reality are detrimental to the telling of history now unless they are confronted and properly explained. This is especially prevalent since 800 fourth graders go through there every day.