Reflection on Days 1-5 of the Civil Rights Bus Tour

June 14th, 2018

Memory. It is a powerful tool that can be used for good or for evil. Memory can be used to enshrine, but it can also be used to selectively forget that which is more convenient to ignore.

Over the first five days of the Civil Rights Bus Tour, memory has been a theme of the sights we have seen and the people whom we have met and heard. From the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which commemorates the 4000 plus victims of race-based lynchings, to Carolyn McKinstry, who recounted to us her experience growing up in Birmingham in the 1950s and 60s, the experiences to which we have been exposed are powerful reminders of the racial oppression that is a foul blot on our nation’s history. To a large degree, our national consciousness chooses to overlook or ignore these injustices, preferring instead to focus on our successes: the passing of the 13th amendment, the Voting Rights act, Brown vs. Board of Education. While it is incredibly important to acknowledge these victories, it would be a disservice to those who fought for them to ignore the horrifically unjust conditions that necessitated these decisive actions. That is why the work that the lynching memorial and museums such as those we have visited is so crucial. The sacrifice made by those whose lives were brutally taken through police violence, KKK terrorism, or other hate crimes, cannot be fully fathomed if we choose to ignore the evil against which they dedicated their lives to fighting.

Although recognizing these injustices can be sobering and emotional, and can reflect shamefully upon our nation, parts of the Christian church, and much of the white race in America, it is a necessary step in the process of racial reconciliation. Without a recognition of wrongdoing, sin can never be put right. However, through the uncovering of truth, forgiveness can finally begin to heal.

-Ben Baddorf

One of the monuments at the The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

One of the monuments at the The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

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