Monday, February 9, 2009

Article about our trip in Blugold Nuggets

Trip participant, Stephen T. Chagdes, wrote this article that recently appeared in the Blugold Nuggets parent newsletter:

As a student participant on the recent UW-Eau Claire Civil Rights Pilgrimage, I have been forever changed. After I returned from this amazing journey, I sat down to put my thoughts on paper. I share these thoughts with you as parents in the hopes that you can see the real value in immersion and experiential learning opportunities that are a hallmark of the UW-Eau Claire educational experience. I hope your son or daughter will elect an immersion opportunity like this one during their time at UW-Eau Claire!

It is clearer to me than ever before that America is changing. There is a generational shift taking place, moving the old way of our societal perception out, and with the new, more open and inclusive way making its way in by the power of democracy. President Barack Obama is the political and cultural figure leading this change, leading the vision that was once foreseen by the prophet of change in modern America, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Despite all of the change and influence weaving through our society’s tender fabrics, there still remains the deep embedded stains of fear and misunderstandings of other races and cultures; along with their appropriate traditions. After examining firsthand the groundbreaking destinations and places of importance of the Civil Rights movement, the struggle and lack of opportunity that has plagued the African American citizens of this country for far too long has been seared in my mind and forever enshrined in my heart. The black and white text of history books will never do justice showing the true colors of the vibrant call to protest that inspired so many Americans to demand the rights that were to be preserved and respected by any and all others.

From Atlanta to Birmingham to Little Rock to Memphis, racism and hatred have ruled for far too long. Inequality and ignorance have been influences over understanding and compassion. For millions of people, the back of the bus was the way of life for far too long. Seeing the once-protest filled streets and bridge in Selma, or once-places of slave trade in New Orleans, alerts me to the very seriousness of the erroneous ways of our ancestors and the corrective measures that we and our future children must strive for. When Confederate Flags still fly on capitol steps in Montgomery and racist police still spew their hatred on the ones they are sworn to protect, it proves to me the alarming nature of racism and its historical and cultural roots. These roots are deep and grow off the denial of the truths of fairness and humane treatment. These roots that I have heard of or read about in the halls or textbooks of my formal education are real and still harmful.I witnessed the struggle to rip out these blood stained tragedies by famous figures such as Reverends who preach from the same pulpit as Dr. King, or museum curators who marched with Dr. King and decades later President Obama.

I witnessed the struggle overcome by middle and low income people, to whose names I do not know. I know they pour coffee, or cut hair, or run tourist shops, just making it by so maybe their children or children’s children can go on and maybe someday help ring Dr. King’s dream true. The struggle to overcome hatred and bigotry had no occupation, no income class, and no preference to young or old. I would argue this dream of equality is yet to be reached, but if We as a nation have taken one large step forward with our election of President Obama, this is no time to call it quits or accept the standards that have been set. They must be raised higher and We as a People have to expect more out of all of each other. By higher expectations and reliance on our fellow brother and sisters, we will soon forget the colors that exist in our spectrum of skin pigmentation and see that human soul and emotion have no price tag and no color preference. I will expect and rely on you to be better and stronger as a person, and I hope you will do the same for me.
Submitted by: Stephen T. Chagdes, UW-Eau Claire Student

No comments:

Post a Comment