Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 4 - WOW !!!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this Civil Rights Pilgrimage; I have met some wonderful students who are passionate about their civil rights studies. I have personally learned so much from the stops we've made the past four days that if I allowed it, the magnitude of what I've learned could easily overwhelm me. Each day continues to offer great insight but today has thus far been the most life changing. We had the opportunity to meet Joanne Bland & her sister, Linda of Selma, AL. Both were children who marched on Bloody Sunday and each shared their personal & profound story. Before taking us to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Joanne shared her very personal experience from the eyes of the 11 yr. old girl she was on Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965) While sharing her story Joanne competed with the sounds of passing traffic and the occassion horn blowing. Regardless, one could easily have heard a pin drop as she spoke; we quickly became enthralled with the story she shared. I am not ashamed to confess that I was moved to tears to consider the horror of her experience. To hear Joanne's story was indeed sobering but what perhaps played a greater impact was our re-enactment as a group, of the trip Joanne and others took across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Two by two we strode across the bridge, each silent in personal reflection. I had the fortune of photographing this memorable event and have yet to properly identify the emotion I felt while participating and while running ahead to capture the expressions of those coming across. Certainly, it is an experience I shall never forget. Our walk was without violence of course but we quickly learned about the violence that Joanne and her friends encountered on Bloody Sunday when we visited the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute II.

After visiting the museum we had lunch in Selma and had an open discussion with Joanne; the dialogue heightened my awareness of how I might personally get involved in making a difference in government and in life.

Next we worked on a couple service projects such as cleaning a park, painting a church and helping at the museum. Each gave willingly of their time, it seemed the least we could do given the sacrifice made by those who have gone before us to pave the way for civil rights.

To top off this memorable day we were treated to a potluck dinner at the church - mmmmm! Several of Joanne's friends and women from the church graciously provided a delicious meal which will definitely sustain us into the next leg of our journey.

Today is a day that has impacted me, I shall remember it forever.

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