Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Amazing Days

We've had two amazing days! Words cannot begin to express the experiences of our day on Tuesday in Montgomery and Selma. We started our day at the State of Alabama Capital where we learned about the history of the capital building as well as the first months of the Confederacy. We went from the Capital building to the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was so powerful to learn the stories of the many people who lost their lives in the struggle for civil rights. We also had the opportunity to learn about the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center. We also learned that there is much more work to be done! I definitely left the Center thinking about what more that I could to make the world better and safer for all. I think our students did as well.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center we went to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s first church. We were able to stand behind the pulpit where King spoke to the people of Montgomery. The church looks the same way today that it did in the 60's. It was truly inspiring to be in that space.

From Montgomery we retraced the steps (in reverse) of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. When we arrived in Selma, we spent the rest of the day with Ms. Joanne Bland. Amazing is the best word to describe our time with her. She shared her accounts of being jailed as an eleven year old girl, marching on Bloody Sunday across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, and walking from Selma to Montgomery. She gave us a tour of Selma and then shared inspirational thoughts about our future. We were able to walk across the Edmund Pettis Bridge to retrace the steps of the march. Ms. Bland spent over an hour answering our questions and motivating each of us to action. Then we ate at the restaurant where Rev. Jimmy Reeb had his last meal before being beaten to death for his support of the voting rights movement. In addition to being amazing food, it was a reminder to all of us how important it is to take a stand even when we see injustice.

For me, this was the most impactful day of our trip. The trip is a tremendous amount of extra work for me and this day made all of that extra work worthwhile!

Yesterday we were able to do service to give back to the city of New Orleans that we will enjoy today. We worked on the Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. revitalization project. In addition to learning about the important principles of community organization and of urban revitalization, we were able to learn about the role Oretha Castle Haley played in the civil rights movement. It was a terrific opportunity for all of us to learn some valuable lessons.

It has been a terrific experience so far! Looking forward to posting some photos for people to see some of our adventures.

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