Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best day of the trip by far:

Tuesday, Jan. 12th was by far the most memorable, emotional, interesting and enriching day of the trip so far for me.

We started out by touring the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery, where a middle-aged woman, who fit the southern stereotype completely, gave us our tour. She looked and talked like she came straight out of the movie "Sweet Home Alabama." Adorable as she was.... she sure gave us a different perspective of southern views compared to what we have been learning the rest of the time on the trip. It just goes to show that no matter how far our country progresses, there will still be people who have distorted views on the civil rights era and all the events that took place. A famous quote to sum up our visit to the capitol would be (imagine the southern accent): "Now this mural over there represents about the 20 years of plantation life.... or what you people would call slavery."

From the capitol we headed over to the first white house of the confederacy, which we later toured during lunch time. From there we went to the Civil Rights Memorial just up the street from Dexter Baptist Church (MLK was the pastor there)----- and this was by far one of my most memorable experiences. We had an amazing tour guide who engaged with us and made the time at the memorial that much better. This entire trip we have been watching movies and documentaries on the bus about Rosa Parks, MLK, Medgar Evers, the 4 little girls in the church, the Scottsboro boys, and the list goes on..... being able to see their names on the memorial and touch the water flowing over was amazing. At the memorial we were able to put our names on the Wall of Tolerance, pledging to practice and teach tolerance. I am proud to say we put our names up on the wall, it was a very cool experience.

From Montgomery, we headed to Selma, AL. We got to walk across the Edmund Pettus bridge, where Bloody Sunday occurred in 1965. As we walked across the bridge I imagined what it would be like to come across and see police with tear gas and guns and weapons awaiting us.... and I cannot even imagine what it would be like to experience that.

We also go the privilege to speak and tour the city with Joanne Bland (and her sister) who both participated in the voting rights movement in Selma when they were just teenage girls. Hearing Joanne and her sister, Lynda's, stories was an emotional experience. Lynda has scars and marks to this day on the back of her head and on her eyebrow from getting beaten by police on Bloody Sunday. These two amazing women have to be the strongest women I have ever met in my life. Not only did they grow up and participate in what they believed in, but they did it all without a mother. Their mother died when they were little because the doctors would not treat her at the white hospital during pregnancy. I am truly inspired by these two women, and am grateful to be able to spend the evening with them.

This day was by far the most packed and tiring, but all worth it in the end. I learned the most and everything we had been learning and experiencing before Tuesday got put into perspective that day through the capitol, memorial, and Selma.

Everyday I can't help but think "Why, why why did this all happen." It is very hard for me to understand and comprehend how people could treat others the way they did. It is a very unsettling feeling to have, as I'm sure all of us are feeling the same. The question of "Why?" is something that crosses my mind everyday...

On a lighter note, the weather is amazing and I love it! High 50s, I'm wearing flip flops, t-shirts and light fleeces. So happy to enjoy this beautiful sunshine and warm breeze!

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