Saturday, June 27, 2009

A final thought in the form of a poem

The simplicity of a destiny achieved by one society.
The opportunity to relive history.
The diversity of the suburbs and the inner city.
How can it be that two communities seven minutes away can act so differently?
We’re all on a mission to discover how our generation came to be.
Our determination to conclude the effectiveness of segregation on certain cities

Throughout this whole trip I can truly say that I appreciate all that Museum Without Walls has offered me. I’m honored that I got the chance to meet the witness of Martin Luther King’s assassanti+on, Rev. Kyles. I’m honored I got the chance to meet Miss Joanne Bland who participated in the march of Selma at the age of 11. I’m honored that I got the chance to bond and communicate with friends I hopefully will stay in contact forever. Although out of all the museums we went to, I can honestly say that the slavery museum in Selma, Alabama was the most emotional. Even though I did not cry, the thought of even being in the same position as my ancestors we’re and how far they’ve come and fought for their freedom is something I will cherish for a very long time.


And finally...Memphis

June 27, 2009
Today, we went to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The first part of the museum was essentially a timeline of the Civil Rights Movement, all the way from the Civil War up until today. The second building of the museum was a detailed look at the situation involving MLK’s murder, including showing the window through which James Earl Ray looked as he shot at Dr. King’s hotel. It was an unnerving experience. But for me, the most interesting and inspiring part of our museum visit was the video about Billy Kyles, and the speech he presented to us afterwards. He was one of two preachers who were with Dr. King when he died. He was very closely involved with Mr. King and the movement in Memphis. The movie was a powerful portrayal of King’s last days, including his final speech-the infamous “Mountaintop Speech.” In this speech, King had seemed to accept his imminent death, but had even more fire and passion because of it. After his death, Kyles preached that “You can kill the dreamer, but you cannot kill the dream,” because King’s death seemed to only heighten the African Americans’ desire for freedom. I was so amazed by the bravery that King showed as he urged his people to keep fighting, even while he was almost certain that he, their leader, would soon be gone. But I was even more amazed by the bravery that his followers showed as they used his death to further the movement. After the movie, we were all shocked to see the same Billy Kyles that we had just been watching on TV enter the room. He was a tall, thin man, with a quiet presence, but a strong and sure presence nonetheless. His speech was inspiring. He spoke of the tomorrow that we, as young adults, will have to create. He spoke of how the Civil Rights Movement was created completely by young adults, and asked us, “What will you be doing with your life by the time you’re 40?” He told us that there is no limit, not even the sky. I had never really considered that maybe I could make a difference, could be one to do something important, but Kyles inspired me to really strive to do something worthwhile with my life. We all have the potential to do something great, it just depends on whether or not we choose to use it.


Beal Street- Memphis, Tennesee Beal Street was a memorable experience filled with great food and colorful souvenir shops! Upon arriving at the intersection of 2nd and Peabody, I could immediately sense the liveliness of youth from the multiple bars and the countless people strolling along in the sweltering summer heat. The stench of sour beer and recycled grease lingered on the sidewalk as we passed through them. It was truly an amazing site to see and reminded me of the Pike Place Market/downtown Seattle area back home. I loved being able to walk through the wide blocked-off streets, stopping from shop to shop and feeling the ice-cold air conditioning inside alternating with the scorching sun outside. Just the amount of different people gathered there to shop, eat, and look around was an impressing site to see. There was mall with many of the same clothing stores as back in Seattle as well as small Elvis and Memphis souvenir shops. I bought several gifts for my family and friends back at home as well as ate an awesome lunch at Huey’s bar and grill. An exciting place where the walls are covered in writing from year’s of past visitors. The ceiling is also attacked with toothpicks from the burgers and of course they served my absolute new favorite drink of the south, sweet tea. This will be one place that I will be sure to remember as I return home. Satisfying my standards, it was the perfect end to my last full day in Memphis.


June 27, 2009 Blog
Today, the 27th of June. A Thursday if I’m not mistaken. In the early morning we started our day at the Lorraine Hotel. The hotel had been reconstructed to become a shrine to the King. It depicted a timeline of the Civil Rights Movement, from the Bus Boycott to King’s death. The Museum across the street was a sort of ‘conspiracy museum.’ Stating the circumstances around King’s death, it consisted of a timeline of the events leading up to his death. The events depicted consisted of his arrival in Memphis, his activities of the day, of the year, and certain actions of the ‘shooter’ and opponents of the King. The case of Martin Luther King’s assassination has been debated as a conspiracy, but never been fully solved. Of course the killer has been caught; however the loss of such a leader monumental to the movement was a large loss for many.
Next we ventured to a lunch on Beale St. This initial impression of Beale Street was a fast-paced mini-adventure of running around, checking stores and finding some decent food. A curiously long ride to STAX recording studio lent hours of educational fun in music. STAX was much like the EMP in Seattle however most of the music was soul, blues, or Motown. There was a dance floor, and thus held the most entertaining part of the tour. We dance there for at least a half hour total. The wonderful music and exhibits promised even more hours of epic music, we had a deadline and were forced to return to Beale Street and shopping. It was a legendary last day.


Medgar Evers House - June 26th

June 26, 2009
We woke up in the morning in Jackson, Mississippi. It’s so hard to wake up because we are always on the road! Today we got to meet Jerry Mitchell, he is an investigative reporter for the The Clarion-Ledger and he has put at least four Ku Klux Klan members in jail. When you think of a man like Jerry Mitchell you would think he is a straight edge, polite man. But, my ignorance had surpassed me. When he got up and spoke, he had a good posture, a big smile, and a very funny sense of humor! He spoke about the KKK members and how they were convicted. I thought it was amusing to know the most menacing men can be the prime moron. Jerry Mitchell spoke of their trials and how their alibis did not match. You would think if you are a mass murderer you would at least have an alibi!
We drove through Tougaloo College, and I was impressed with the beautiful campus. Although the College was gated I envied it afar. After driving through we went to Medgar Evers home outside of Jackson. His home was turned into a memorial where people can go through, browse and relive his death through imagination and text. When entering Medgar’s home I felt a bad presence because his blood stains were left on the driveway. It got me thinking of how evil human beings can be. I preach for peace as much as I can. Yet a question always lingers in my head. Would there be peace without evil? I know the question can never be answered and it’s so hard to believe. I don’t understand how a human being can kill another because of the color of their skin. I can’t imagine what goes on in their heads. They are not sane, and it scares me to know that it can be anyone.
Today was a good day. Yet everyday should always be better then the next. Today will always be significant in my life because I realized the struggles and hardships people had to go through for freedom. I wouldn’t have an education, and I wouldn’t have had equal rights. I would like to thank everyone in the past, present, and future for their hard work and success. Yes, I do believe in CHANGE!


The story of Medgar Evers was certainly one of the most important and touching experiences I have had over the course of this trip. Going to his house was in many ways similar to going to Martin Luther King’s house because it had the same awe inspiring air about it. Even though Medgar Evers was not as influential as King was, I enjoyed Medgar Evers’ house as much as Dr. King’s or more. I think that this is because Martin Luther King has become an American symbol, similar to Abraham Lincoln or George Washington. Because of this I had trouble getting past the initial awe and really seeing the man beneath. Medgar Evers was a different story and I really connected with him. Unlike with Dr. King, whom I cannot really compare to myself, I could see Medgar Ever’s life playing before my eyes. This was an extrordiiinarily graet man who loved his country enough to fight for it at age 16 even though it was unfair to him and even loved it enough to try and make it better.

Medgar Evers’ father was a proud man as well. He refused to step to the side of the road for whites as was the custom and taught Medgar to stand up for himself. Medgar got a hunting license when he was a kid which was rare for African Americans and developed a love for the woods. He enlisted in the army when he was only 16 which is amazing considering that that is my age and most the people on this trip are even older. He experienced both more equality and extreme racism while serving. These experiences allowed him to become the leader he was.

When I got to Medgar’s house, there were a few details that especially touched me. One was the children’s mattresses which were on the floor. It was shocking to think how difficult it would be to raise a family under those conditions. Another was the fact that the family members had to get out of the passenger door so they could run to the house faster. The third was the dent in the refrigerator the bullet that killed him made and the fourth and most powerful was the blood stain on the concrete that has lasted for so many years. This blood cannot be washed away and it is a constant reminder of the inspirational life and tragic death of Medgar Evers.


Jackson, MS - Jerry Mitchell

Jerry Mitchell, to me, was our most amazing speaker thus far. His work with capturing klansmen that murdered and tortured black Civil Rights leaders is inspirational. He explained to us the lengths he went in order to give the killers justice such as Byron LaBeckwith. His passion for the movement was amazing and his work was even put into a movie, The Ghost of Mississippi. Jerry Mitchell's funny personality and easy going attitude made him an exceptional speaker to all students. He even shared with us that he gets death threats often and the FBI is currently investigating them and who is responsible. He resides in Jackson, Mississippi and works for the Clarion Ledger.


Jerry Mitchell was an excellent speaker. I love his sense of Humor! The fact that he is working to finish closed cases shows a lot of determination. It sort of inspires me to start my career in his field of study. Also finding out that he has had numerous death threats and still has continued to move along and hasn't let it effect him shows a lot of courage!! To me he has no fear what so ever and is a great story teller. when telling us his stories i felt like i was there at the actual event. I really appreciate everything he shared with us.


On june 26th 2009 we met jerry mitchell. Jerry Mitchell is a white man that lived in jackson mississippi as a writer. He wrote several stories about blacks and the segregation they went threw in the 1950s. He talked to us about the things these white men did to colored people. He told us how he investigated these cases and the interviews he had with several of them. One that stood out the most was when this white man came into the courtroom acting as if he was to old to even go to jail so the judge released him because it looked like the man can do no "harm". That week Jerry got a picture of him standing up completely straight playing golf and put it on the front cover of his newspaper. By him doing that he put that man into jail and had him tell several man that were involved with all these crimes! the reason why i wanted to write about Jerry Mitchell was because this was a white man that was helping out the blacks by exposing how these white did the blacks not by marching on washington or boycotting he was helping them fight for there rights by bringing down the racist people that were hurting others.


Selma, June 25th

June 25th

Going to the Southern Poverty Law Center was my favorite museum that we went to. The group learned about the 40 martyrs that left a huge impact during the civil rights movement. Although the whole exhibit was relatively short, it was extremely informative and left a stronger feeling. After leaving a room with all the martyrs and their stories, the group watched a short film that was also really well done and told a couple of the stories in greater detail. Once the film ended, there was this room where you have the opportunity to take a pledge to stand up against discrimination. This was my favorite part because you type your name out on an electric scroll that shows all the names of the people who took this pledge. Another amazing part of the Southern Poverty Law Center was the fountain that stood outside with all 40 names carved into it. It was a privilege to stand and touch the names in the fountain where many others have also touched like Rosa Parks. Overall, the experience from the Southern Poverty Law Center gave me the strongest impact and I hope to visit in the future to see my name still appearing on the scroll!



On Thursday we went to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. As we drove by the entrance I saw a beautiful water sculpture with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.. Although I immediately recognized the beauty of the sculpture, it wasn't until after we went through the museum that I was able to understand its immense significance.
Our tour guide first told us that they had created the memorial for 40 martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement. It was created by the same person who made the Vietnam memorial in D.C.. As we walked into the first room we were told that there was a timeline of the deaths stretching across the wall and that there was a plaque with a picture of each person and a summarized story explaining who he/she was and why he/she was killed. One story that struck me was that of a man who was killed because he stood in the way of a bulldozer as he was fighting for justice. Another story was about a man who was shot because he went to a school to meet his mom, but when he arived he saw a civil rights protest, so he decided to stop and watch, but was then shot by the oppressors. I thought it was really cool that we got to learn about the 40 people that lost their lives in the movement because sometimes we only hear about the extremely famous people and I'm glad that the other important people were recognized at the memorial.
We then watched a movie that provided details about some of the stories. After the video that was very well done we walked through a hall way with current stories of injustice and hatred. I really enjoyed this because it showed that injustice didn't end in 1968 when MLK was murdered, bu still exists in our world today. Once we walked through this hall way we walked into a room with a large wall that had the names of thousands of people. The guide told us that these were the names of people who had sworn to fight against injustice and hatred and stand up for civil liberties. We then were given the option to add our name to the wall. I think that adding my name to that wall was probably one of the coolest things that I have done in my entire life and I felt like it underscored the meaning of this trip for me. As we watched the names appear and slide down the screen I felt like anything was possible and that we can make a change in this world.
Finally, we walked outside to see the famous water sculptures. I was able to touch the names of the 40 martyrs who were killed in the Civil Rights Movement. Then, I ran my fingers through MLK's name and it felt really good and inspired me. We took a group picture in front of the wall with MLK's quote and I was glad because I thought it was one of the most important and cool museums we went to on the entire trip.



June 24th, 2009

Selma, Alabama

The several hours of the van ride to Selma Alabama was completely worth it. Selma to me, felt like the heart of the civil rights tour because their success was unfathomable. As I learned about the history of the movement I felt hurt by the amount of violence the “foot soldiers” had faced as the attempted to cross the Edmund Petus Bridge. I realized the amount of sacrifice the past generation had given for me so that I, as a human being could live my life with equal opportunity and not be attacked for my beliefs.
I felt most optimistic about my future when I learned that the march from Selma to Montgomery was successful and learned that I should never give up when fighting for what I believe in. The whole day was filled with emotion and I am very thankful to have experienced this with my peers, if given the chance to sum up the day in one word I would have to say: empowering.

-Daniel N.

On wednesday we went to the slavery museum. The experience was unforgettable it wasn't what i expected it was actually better. The delimi i had when i entered the place was very shocking. Following that event was the Personage. That was moving and amazing. Just being in the same room he once was in. I actually didn't believe it was once his home. This whole trip about black history has made me more knowledgeable. The slavery museum and the Personage has by far been the best experience i have had on this trip. I will never forget this experience
and back to Montgomery...


My visit to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's house was truly inspirational. I felt special and meaningful standing in the dining room where he wrote some of his first speeches. It was an honor to be walking on the same floor as such an amazing man, and I got chills staring at and touching his belongings. The house had a prescence about it which demanded attention and gave me chills. It was obvious that inspirational people and world changing speakers had visited the parsonage and walked it's halls. Although the house was small and outdated, it represented the appearance of when MLK began his phenominal work as MIA leader and began his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. I felt honored and haunted while roaming the halls of the parsonage. It was truly a privlege to stand in MLK's home, and to know that Mrs. King helped recreate the home in it's prime stage. I'm honored to be allowed in the same area as some of the most amazing American's ever. I am so happy that I got a chance to view the remnants of MLK's unforgettable life.

-Emily R
Selma: The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute

As we rode into Selma, the Alabama River was coming up. After a long turn, the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge came into sight. As we neared the bridge, cameras were being pulled out and the van was slowing down so we could take pictures. The first time I saw the bridge, I felt a deep sense of historic recognition, I felt the force of the bridge. We entered the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute and did what we always do, look around and take pictures. We were met by Joanne Blande. She began a very engaging speech. As she told of the stories of Bloody Sunday, Martin Luther King, and the beatings she endured, we stood there soaking in her invaluable oral history. The perspective of Bloody Sunday through a witness was very memorable and personal. A very cool section of the museum was the wall of sticky notes written by the people who participated in the March to Montgomery. All the people who made the march possible, the citizens, they are not remembered in history, but their actions were nevertheless invaluable to the movement. The march would not be possible if it weren’t for the people, the people who deserve recognition. That is what that wall was commemorating. The people that made it possible.