See a message from Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston about the Northfield to Selma trip.

Wednesday, March 22: Day Seven

Thursday, March 23, 2017

by Kifaya Taha

Today, we ventured across Alabama - one of the most segregated states in the antebellum south. This experience was particularly emotional because we had the opportunity to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and participate in a simulation that was meant to bring to light the horrible conditions that slaves went through. We were led through these excursions by Civil Rights freedom fighter Sam Walker, a jovial yet stern old man, who shared history and memories from his time as a young 11 year old. I witnessed a conversation between Walker and some of the younger kids on our trip - he explained to them that he was not much older than they were when he was first sent to a jailhouse for participating in protests that were spread throughout the state in response to the murders of many young African Americans such as the Four Little Girls and Jimmy Lee Johnson. Watching the kids mouths drop in shock was moving - this man grew up during much harder times and fought for justice and equal rights so that these same kids could grow up in a more accepting time. 

As we walked across the Edmund Pettis bridge, I felt very sad but also proud. No matter how many museums we visit or how many historical sites we experience firsthand, there is really no way to truly understand the hardships, terror, and danger that African Americans faced in the history of America. At the beginning of the bridge was a sign that described Bloody Sunday. Multiple cars scattered past the bridge as we walked over and the waters below were calm and the air was cool and the atmosphere peaceful. But I couldn't help but feel sad and emotional as I reflected on what actually happened on this bridge - police ambushed peaceful protesters, beating them, killing them, taking away their humanity. This same bridge that in was covered in blood at the hands of white supremacy and our racist nation in 1972, the same bridge that MLK himself along with many other brave people walked across, is the same one my own two feet are walking across. This is one of the main reasons why this spring break trip is so moving and so important - we have had the opportunity to experience these excursions firsthand outside of a classroom setting and the effects it has had on us have been immense.

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    I do agree with what you've written here - some of the museums we have here in the States do an amazing job of recreating the days of the civil rights movements... 

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