Reflections on Day 1-3 by Marcelle Giovannetti

June 12th, 2018

What a journey! We began our tour Friday with excited buzz, building relationships with each other in the van through shared laughter and listening, leaning in, to the stories of each other. Then Saturday immersed us in the story of the Greensboro 4, courageous, first year, college students, who were not more than 18 or 19 years old. These 4 were the catalyst for a movement that inspired their generation (and beyond) to speak out against injustice. Hearing their story left me pondering what “lunch counter” moments I would be courageous enough to attempt in my own life.

Sunday took us to Atlanta where we visited the MLK center and began learning about heroic stories of ordinary folks who did extraordinary things. Dr. King was so prophetic in the speeches he gave and I found myself connecting his message of equity and non violence to current news stories in our country. His life and legacy reverberated throughout my day and I felt their echo in my soul as I sat in a pew at Ebenezer Baptist Church listening to him preach.  I then got to visit the memorial of Dr.King and his wife and felt the peace that drenched their final resting place.

We had lunch at the famous Varsity and I got to try my first FO and discovered that I could most definitely put away two of their delicious chili dogs (after an appropriate amount of modest protest of course!)

Monday began at the Charles Sherrod civil Rights Park where we walked in the footsteps of those who bravely marched in peaceful protest. We then visited  the Albany Civil Rights institute where our amazing tour guide Debra made the exhibits come to life (she can sang too!). Then we got to sing freedom songs with the unstoppable Rutha Harris who has a set of pipes that made me weep! Her songs, sound, feeling, music and words cry out like a timeless anthem and fill every part of you when she sings. It made me thankful to Our Creator for the gifts he bestows on us in form of such extraordinary talent! 

We had lunch with Miss Rutha at Ole Times Country buffet that served up an extra helping of sweet southern hospitality that went nicely with the delicious southern cuisine. After lunch, we visited Holy Street Baptist Church, First Baptist Church and Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  We also visited the home of Dr. King  where hate and violence still leave their ugly mark, his porch still dented from the place where the bomb exploded. For me, it served as metaphor and reminder of just how long hatred leaves its ugly mark behind, it even outlives the recipients it originally targeted… a reminder of the depth of wounds inflicted and their long term effects.

We finished off the evening with dinner at Sophia’s and I got to hear her story, another example of everyday courageous folks doing extraordinary things. For me these stories of past and present  mingled together and they are beginning to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, one piece dependent on the other to reveal long and hard fought road towards equity and freedom. Both of which are still clearly elusive today in our nation. I felt these stories chisel away and deconstruct my own “knowing” (or lack thereof) as my own transformative learning takes on new shape that is now anchored to a more accurate account of history ebbedded in the personal stories I have been privileged to hear.

It’s only Day 3 and the people I have met along the way have be remarkable. They have given generously of themselves to contribute to my own learning. Hospitality, love and grace have been the consistent underpinnings of this journey so far. I have been deeply moved and overwhelmed by the experience and am so very grateful for it.

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