Civil Rights Trip – Update #3


Kevin Peralta, Guest Writer

Hello Haynes Community,
Today was our first day in Alabama! Our first stop today was in Tuskegee, Alabama where we got a chance to visit Tuskegee University. According to US News, Tuskegee is ranked #5 among all Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We took a walk around campus and got to see how beautiful it is. I highly recommend all rising seniors to check it out while establishing your college lists.
“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”  George Washington Carver
After leaving from TU we arrived at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. Here we learned about the Tuskegee Airmen, also known as the “Red Tails”. We watched a film that told the story of the Red Tails and everything that they experienced while being in the military. These men experienced racism and oppression, even while fighting for their own country. Yet, they paved the way not only for African Americans and people of color in the military today, but also everywhere around the world. They helped break ignorant stereotypes and changed the perception of African American men and women by showing their superiors that they are capable of everything that white combat leaders could do. Eventually the Red Tails became one of the best fighter pilots in World War II and aided the U.S in forcing Germany to surrender and eventually ending the war.
We then departed for Montgomery, AL. We arrived at the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization which does law work in Alabama. EJI is doing really great work and is on the forefront in fighting against injustice today. We learned about several types of injustices that are occurring throughout the country including mass incarceration, poverty, the corrupt criminal justice system and many more. Getting to hear all of this was great, but I assure you everyone on the trip would agree with me when I say that the highlight of the visit was getting to listen to Anthony Ray Hinton speak about his story. A year ago, Anthony was released from prison after serving 30 years for a crime that he did not commit. He was wrongly convicted and sentenced to the death penalty in Alabama. While in jail, Anthony reached out to EJI and through hard work his case was sent to the U.S Supreme Court, where in the first time in history, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor for an appeal of his case. The case was later reviewed by the Alabama court and it was found that he was not guilty.
Anthony’s story shows the state of our criminal justice system and reveals that there is still much more work to do in the fight for justice. Yet, we can be thankful for organizations like EJI who are doing amazing work and are leading advocacy today.
“We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, not the victim.”  Elie Wiesel
Our last stop of the day was a few blocks down the road at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is another organization doing advocacy work not only in Alabama but across the country. Here we learned that currently there are more than 800 hate groups in the United States. We also got a chance to watch a short film about the Civil Rights Memorial and several stories on people who lost their lives in the fight for justice. At the end of the tour we all pledged to continue the fight for justice today.