Memphis & Little Rock

June 15th, 2012

The Civil Rights journey has continued. Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit the Loraine Motel, which is the site of Dr. King’s assassination. That was mind blowing to be able to view the room and the site of Dr. King’s final moments. It is so sad to think that a man who wanted equality for all and demonstrated it in a peaceful way would be murdered. He wanted both blacks, whites and everyone to get along but so many whites were angered with this. Why? What did he do that was wrong? I am so thankful for what he did for me and mankind. I only think what the world would be like if he had not been killed. I do think we would be further along with racial equality.  I saw a shirt that had an amazing quote. It said, ‘You can kill the dreamer but you can’t kill the dream.’. That is amazing because the dream is still alive but it’s up to all of us to continue to fight for the dream.

Last night we went to Downtown Memphis and that was a really fun time.  We had 3 hours to eat and hang out downtown.  Most of us split up into small groups and went our separate ways. I went with an African American colleague from Geneva and 3 white Geneva college students. We went to eat BBQ at an amazing Memohis BBQ place. However, we had a great conversation about our experiences, race and racism. It was interesting because the 3 students had very different experiences with race. One had quite a bit of experience with diversity, another had little but some experience and the other had no experience with diversity. We were able to be open & honest with each other. I shared about my TJ Rockwells experience and had felt good in doing so.  All of a sudden someone asked me why didn’t I speak to the media, who wanted to talk to me, and go on the cameras and I shared with them because I was scared! I was afraid for my safety as I didn’t know if retaliation would occur. I began to sob because I was thinking about the many people we had heard from and how they risked their lives, and many were injured and killed for my rights. It was very emotional but they made me feel comfortable to be vulnerable. We than walked downtown in the bright list and just enjoyed the sites.

Yesterday we also heard from Rev. Billy Kyles, who was a dear friend of Dr. King. He also was standing next to Dr. King when he was assassinated. He didn’t speak much about that day but I have seen him in videos and know the affects that day had on him. I also thought to myself, that this trip and experience gave me opportunities that most people will never have. I spoke to, touched and took a picture with the man who was 5 steps from Dr. King when he was murdered! People don’t have this opportunity in a group of 30! I’m so Blessed.

Today we went to Little Rock, Ark and to Central High School. This is the site where Arkansas was integrated with the Little Rock 9. The school is still open and we walked the halls, we walked the steps where these students fought to desegregate schools. I always went to school with whites and had the best education. I have to think those 9 for the risk they took. Please people I ask you to google, ‘The Little Rock 9’ and learn more about this group. We also heard from one of the Little Rock 9s sister and daughter. In fact her daughter ate lunch at my table along with 5 others. I’m rubbing elbows with history!

On to Nashville we go…

God Bless

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