Saturday, January 12, 2013

So busy!

I haven't actually had time to post on here for the past few days, but here are my entries:

January 9, 2013

Since we couldn’t march across the bridge on the 8th when we originally planned, we did it this morning. It was a very powerful experience doing so, because as I said in yesterday’s post, it makes the LGBT rights movement ever so present and makes me realize that it can’t be just a select few people who work towards a revolution – we need common people too. Everybody needs to be involved.  This is seen in the Civil Rights Movement too. Many people hear Civil Rights and they think of Martin Luther King, Jr. Yes, MLK played a pivotal role in organizing for the movement; however, there were so many more people involved than just him.

After we marched so solemnly across the bridge, we loaded up our buses and headed to New Orleans, with a pitstop in Gulfport, Mississippi!

January 10, 2013             

New Orleans is a city loaded with Civil Rights history. This morning we took a Civil Rights Bus Tour of the City of New Orleans. It was very interesting to see landmarks such as the first market where slaves were sold, even though it is a scar on the United States’ history. It was sad to see the devastation that still blights the city. The Ninth Ward was the area hit the hardest. On our tour, we saw many homes that were still in complete disrepair – most of which had holes in the roof. When water started pouring into the city, the 9th ward is the lowest part of the city, many feet below sea level. These homes were flooded often with over 8 feet of water. People took shelter in their attics, but had to get out somehow, so they had to break holes in the roof. Towards the end of our tour, we saw something wonderful! It was a place that has been rebuilt through the help of Habitat for Humanity, called the Musician’s Village. One place in the middle of the Musician’s Village and 9th ward itself is called the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. I was absolutely amazed by this outstanding facility and the work they are doing to try to improve the lives of children in the area. The Center has an after school program that teaches kids many different audio/visual and music skills. Everyone is required to learn piano, along with another instrument of their choice. This came about from a dream of Ellis Marsalis, a musician from New Orleans.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina wasn’t just people losing their homes – the city lost many jobs. New Orleans, a very  musical city, lost many musicians. They moved away and found other jobs. The Musician’s Village was meant to bring musicians back, and those musicians help teach at the Center for Music, continuing the knowledge of music in the city’s youth. It is phenomenal!

Below are just a few fun pics from New Orleans!

Beignets and Coffee from Cafe du Monde

Retro Walgreens

The Cathedral that is in the "postcard" picture of New Orleans

January 11, 2013

Today we travelled to Little Rock, Arkansas. Little Rock is a fascinating place, even though it is quite small, with just under 200,000 people. The first thing on the agenda today was to go to Little Rock Central High School, a site of forced segregation. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I had to spend my time getting a strep test instead of going to Central High; however, I hear from my peers that it was a great experience!

After Little Rock Central High School, we went to the Capitol to see the statues of the Little Rock Nine (the 9 students of color who desegregated the school), all of whom were pointing to the governor’s office, to serve as a constant reminder to the State of Arkansas to never let something of that caliber happen again.

After that, we went to the Clintion School of Public Service, which was the first school to ever offer a Masters in Public Service. Something Bill Clinton felt a call for was public service; however, he felt he could do more with politics, so he chose that career instead. This is how he is contributing to public service – by creating many public servants with a common purpose of working for the betterment of the society. It was compelling to me, going to the school. I’m almost considering applying there when I go to graduate school! We met first-year students there who all showed such compassion for their chosen field of public service; it really felt like a great community of people to live, learn, and grow with. I think this school would be a great fit for me!

We concluded the evening with a very heartfelt discussion of what we, as students, can do in our own lives to help fight issues of inequality.

January 12, 2013

This morning we toured Heifer International, my FAVORITE charity ever, in Little Rock. Their mission is so profound, “Heifer International's mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.” And it all started with one cow. When a person donates money to purchase say, a cow, or flock of chickens, to give to a family in a developing country, one of the requirements is that the first-born of that animal goes to another family. This not only helps the family with the animal, but it is helping villages become sustainable by teaching them how to farm and care for these animals. It is just one way social justice is playing out in the world today.

We then went to the Clinton Presidential Library. In my opinion, Bill Clinton made strides for this country in terms of social justice issues, and we haven’t had a president yet to achieve as much as he has. It was great seeing everything he’s done in the museum at the library. Following our visit at the Presidential Library, we headed downtown for lunch, then hopped on the bus to head to our last stop on the trip, Memphis, Tennessee! 

Greg Hofmann
Junior - UWEC
Political Science & Student Affairs

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