Walking in the Shoes of those who Made History
It is one thing to learn about the civil rights movement in class, through text books, and in discussion. It is a whole other experience to travel down south and follow in the footsteps of the great civil rights activists. The latter is what I was able to experience through the Alternative Spring Break program at PLU.
As a freshman I wanted to explore the world, broaden my horizons, and get away from home. The majority of my friends were headed to Cabo San Lucas or Miami for their spring break. I considered joining them, but realized that I would gain nothing from that week. It was then that Angie Hambrick, Director of the PLU Diversity Center, invited me to a meeting concerning the Civil Rights Trip (CRT).
We flew into Atlanta, Georgia and drove to Montgomery, Alabama in the same day. I remember sitting in our van and reading all of the highway signs, and looking at all of the landscapes passing us by. I distinctly remember the plantation-style homes with the large white columns. I was shocked to see that they still existed! Along with those columns, was often a confederate flag flying in the air - I was disgusted and intrigued at the same time.
I will never forget this trip for multiple reasons. I stood where Dr. King stood and delivered a great number of speeches, I stood where four little girls lost their lives at the hands of the KKK. I walked the Edmond-Pettus Bridge where hundreds of innocent protesters were attacked for expressing their desire for equality. As I sit and reminisce about this trip, tears are brought to my eyes as I remember the emotions I felt. I was forced to acknowledge the history of my country, and my race during those ten days; forced to see that America was built on the backs of slaves. I will never, ever forget meeting Dr. King's barber, and talking with him for over an hour. He shared a side of Dr. King that I would never have read in any textbook. I stood on the front porch of Dr. King's house, staring at a black wreath, wishing I was standing next to the great man himself.
This trip was a gateway to my learning at PLU. I was able to narrow my broad history major to my passion of studying the civil rights movement. I am currently writing my capstone paper on Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and presenting my paper at a national conference. This trip will follow me the rest of my life, I'm sure of it. I am so thankful that this opportunity presented itself to me at PLU.