Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Like a Mighty Stream

Today we did a lot of walking throughout Montgomery.  We visited the State Capitol, the Rosa Parks Museum, and the Dexter Street Baptist Church, all in addition to a walking tour of the city led by our fabulous coordinators.  The most significant part for me though was our time at the Southern Poverty Law Center.  As a pre-law student who one day hopes to be an attorney, I was provided with a glimpse of the awesome potential of the law to be both a force for good and for evil. Laws were used to both segregate and integrate blacks into Southern society and were it not for federal intervention and Supreme Court rulings, segregation might still be in effect today.  Today I realized more fully than ever before that laws are merely tools, neither good nor evil but always powerful, and that the true nature of law is determined by those who create and execute it. 

As an aspiring attorney I was also struck by the human element involved in the fight against and for certain laws.  Neither the segregationist laws nor the systems that they supported were able to stop the men and women who demanded their repeal.  The people of the movement were able to shift the law, long the guardian of segregation, to become a force for good.  The power rested not with the law but with the people and that is perhaps the greatest lesson I learned today - the law is immensely powerful, but the human element must always remain supreme.

A law does not equal justice, but it can.  The key lies in forcing these two separate but related elements together and fusing them together to create a force for good.  Only when the justice system is in fact a just system will, "justice roll down likes waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

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