Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 1

I was still riding high after being amazed by the kindness my friend Alice had showed me by the time morning rolled around. I had so much food that I shared them all with the people around me, especially when Xia who was so hungry during breakfast because she hadn’t eaten anything the evening before. Hope you thank Alice, Xia!!!

We finally arrive at Atlanta and the 1st thing I see upon entering the CNN World Headquarters were all the pictures from around the world that made up the CNN mural there. Should’ve made more time so I could’ve taken a picture of myself with that nice piece of artwork.

Earlier I had really, really wanted to attend the Georgia Aquarium but I thought to myself, Jodi would be disappointed if the only student in her Womens 222 class who didn’t attend the CNN Studio Tour was me, so I bit my lip and walked with my classmates all the way through the tour. Having finished, I called my friend and she told me how everyone was just getting ready to go in the door because the line had been so long. I was so thankful right there that I didn’t skip out on the CNN tour.

The best part about St. Patrick’s Day though, wasn’t the tour or even the southern food we had during the late afternoon, but the guest speaker who was the youngest member of the Freed Riders when they rode out to give everyone a better future. Right away I was impressed by listening to him describe the courage of the Freedom Riders to be non-violent even in the face of terror when they knew they were going to be severely beaten. I can’t even imagine how they could still remain firm in their resolution when the floors of their bus ran bright red with their own blood, and still have the fortitude to show future generations on how to hope and carry out their mission of freedom. He was an interesting character. Whereas the other Freedom Riders had all felt the pain segregationists inflicted upon them, he didn’t feel a thing. It was as if he had prepared all his life up to this point and when it came to pass, it had become something really easy. I was so impressed that I asked him if his deployment to Vietnam was harder or his experience in the South. Mr. Pearson said that his experience in the South helped prepare him for Vietnam. That because he had been arrested before for trespassing, I believe it was, the U.S. Army had to come down to the South to clear him.

As the night was winding down, he asked another student to come get me because he really wanted to have some last words. My heart just leaped for joy. I was wondering why? What would Charles Pearson want to talk to me about? I walk over to him and he told me these amazing and humorous stories about the freedom riders. He reminded me how there were other people besides Blacks who had participated in the Freedom Rides and that sometimes you have to find laughter wherever you can, even in the face of death. One story was the Freedom Riders had an Indonesian riding with them and when the whites had made all the Freedom Riders get off the bus, they separated the whites into one line and the blacks into the other. He wasn’t white so they wouldn’t let him in with line of the white folks. He wasn’t black so he wasn’t allowed to be in the black lines either. Eventually they made him sit in the middle of the two groups because his color was in the middle of the two and he was the only person not beaten. There was also a blind woman who rode with the Freedom Riders. Because she was a blind and a woman, the Southerners who had made all the Freedom Riders get off didn’t know what to do. They were afraid they’d get blacklisted from the nation for assaulting a woman. When they found out she was blind that fear of being astrocized grew even more so they just let her be. The fact that there were people less fortunate than me risking their lives for freedom have made me appreciate my privilege even more because they were the ones who’d made it possible for me to live like this. In my History 115 midterm essay on the morning we left for our Civil Rights Pilgrimage Trip, the three reform movements I chose to write about was the New Deal, the Progressive Era, and the Civil Rights. For the Civil Rights part, I remembering writing a sentence about being thankful for those who had made it possible for me to live in a world without fear because they had already taken all the evils and punishment of discrimination in their fight for freedom for me so I didn’t have to. Having met the youngest member of the Freedom Riders made me feel like I was coming full circle because I was able to meet someone who’d made it my life better without even knowing about me.

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