PLSC Civil Rights Pilgrimage Day 6

The Rosa Parks Museum was a very informational trip. It was good to discuss the actual
incident of Rosa Parks protesting segregation on the Montgomery buses in detail. I feel like we
are talking about such a short and vague history of the boycott that I could never really describe exactly
what happened on that day. The legal explanation was especially interesting to me because I had
never known that she did not break the law that day. Learning that fact demonstrated to me how
far the Jim Crow laws went to dehumanize African Americans in any and all ways that were
possible. Furthermore, it was strange to learn that bus drivers had the authority of police on their
buses; today it seems novel, but I can imagine how it was used to force the submission of
African Americans in all public spaces. One of the things that I have noticed about this trip is the
reoccurring theme that people are trying to remove that troublesome history from America’s
past. Professor Jordan said that the plaque commemorating the arrest of Rosa Parks was actually
removed with no plans for a museum, and it was only through community efforts did the
museum replace it. That shows me the importance of holding people accountable to maintain and
preserve our history.
The Equal Justice Initiative was a really cool experience. It was exciting to learn about
how a local organization was pushing for change in their own community. One of the points that
the representatives of EJI made that resonated with me was that “slavery didn’t end in 1865, it
just evolved.” The work and research that they have done to correlate lynching rates to death
penalty rates is astonishing and something I never would have thought of before. I appreciate that
they believe that the mainstream narrative of civil rights is incomplete. It feels incomplete to me
as well. I want to come back and see the National Memorial to Lynching and the museum they
are building. The most important thing that I took away from that was that we can all create
change in our own communities. We should be collecting soil samples from the locations of
lynching in Texas, too. Problems like mass incarceration, wrongful death penalty sentences, and
children imprisoned for life are not only problems in Alabama. They are also problems in Dallas
and across the country.
Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge reminded me that we are on our own freedom ride.
We would not even have been able to take this trip 52 years ago, but thanks to the people who
tried to cross this bridge, we can. We have come a long way from 1965, but we still have a long
way to go.
 

Song: Glory — Common & John Legend