Civil Rights Trip – Update #4

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Civil Rights Trip – Update #4

Danielle Anani, Guest Writer

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From May 23-27, a group of Haynes students and teachers are traveling through the South to learn more about the Civil Right Movement. We feature here some reactions and reflections from Haynes students.
Today we visited Troy University and the Rosa Parks Museum where we were transported through time to observe scenes of segregation in 1955.  The museum honors the accomplishments of individuals associated with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
“Nonviolence cannot be preached.  It has to be practiced.”  Mahatma Gandhi
We then visited the Freedom Riders Museum in the historic Greyhound Museum where we learned how 21 young people helped change our nation’s history using nonviolent protest.  Black and white, male and female, none of them were older than 21.   We were at the spot where teenagers traveled from Washington D.C  to Jackson, Mississippi and we discussed how re-committing to non-violence in our community is an important first step.  Their goal was to help end racial segregation in public transportation and they did.  The museum had artwork as well as quotes, photographs, and architectural elements.

After visiting these two museums we went to Alabama State University to visit the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture.  Two of the Center’s goals are document and preserve memorabilia of the civil rights period and pass the knowledge of that culture and heritage to students.  We had the privilege of meeting with Revered Robert Gaetz and his wife Jean Gaetz who was a white pastor of a black congregation in Montgomery, Alabama.  He called Rosa Parks a neighbor and close friend, and was a leader/supporter with the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Montgomery Improvement Association.  Their message focused on building community through, love, spirituality, and forgiveness.  Robert and Jean will have been married 65 years in two weeks and they have 7 children, 27 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, and 1 great great grandchild.  Their courage as white allies was moving.

Our day ended with the opportunity to meet with modern day activists in the Montgomery community.  We visited the Connecting Life Community Center with Bishop Crawford.  He founded the center in 2013 after 50 homicides took place in Montgomery.  He is committed to providing youth a safe space through sports, substance abuse counseling, GED guidance, and boy scouts.  Through him we were introduced to Karen Jones, one of the key leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement here in Montgomery.  She shared organizing strategy for youth when doing direct action and highlighted some of the experiences living in a really segregated city still in 2016, where resources and power are still starkly divided.

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