Monday, January 19, 2009

An Unforgettable, Life-Changing Experience

Hello everyone,

I've been back in snowy Wisconsin after a 10-day voyage down south, and quite honestly, I already miss everyone/everything about the trip! Before I left for the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, I was unsure of what I'd learn, who I'd meet, and overall, how the trip would affect me personally. Being submerged in my nation's history allowed me to live the moments first hand, and truly see what they saw throughout the Civil Rights Movement.I  can say without a doubt, that this has been one of the greatest experiences in my life, and I can't wait to share my memories with my friends, family, and even children in the years to come. 

My favorite city on the journey was definitely Selma, Alabama. Johanne, our tour guide, and also a activist who walked on Bloody Sunday, was one of the most real, down to earth women I've ever met. Rather than explaining the memories, she put us in them. One thing I'll never forget (besides her utmost bold and sassy attitude) was when she had everyone grab a rock off the ground. These were the very rocks that hundreds of civil rights activists walked upon during Bloody Sunday. We also the opportunity to walk across the Edmund Pettus bridge, like hundreds (including Martin Luther King Jr.) did during the Selma to Montgomery marches. Selma was a fascinating experience, and one that I'll never forget.

As far as night life is concerned, I absolutely fell in love with Preservation Hall - the birthplace of jazz. I can't remember the last time I've snapped and swayed to jazz music in my life. It really showed the significance of Louisiana on the jazz revolution. 

While I could write FOREVER on the various museums, attractions, restaurants, and hotels we visited on our journey, our final visit to the National Civil Rights Museum was a great way of summarizing our entire journey. To this day, Martin Luther King Jr. has always inspired me to stand up for my rights, as well as my country's. Visiting the Lorraine motel, the location where MLK Jr. was assassinated, was saddening yet memorable. I even had the opportunity of looking into the bathroom where it's assumed his murderer, James Earl Ray, took the shot. It gave me the chills. 

From January 9th - 19th, UWEC students and faculty (of different races and ages) took place in one of the greatest experiences of my life. Whether you're black or white, 18 or 30, or interested in history or not, the Civil Rights Pilgrimage impacted everyone in very different ways. For me personally, the trip opened my eyes to the trials and tribulations thousands of individuals made throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Knowing how far civil rights activists have come during this movement, I feel I will live my life feeling more comfortable in my own skin as well. 

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage opened my eyes to both how far America has come, and how far we still have to go. This was an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity, and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Thanks to everyone for the memories! I hope we all stay in touch.


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