I’ve just returned from seven days in the south – a place I have a strange fascination with. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Los Angeles and would recognize the stark differences between my hometown and Wilmington, North Carolina – my dad’s hometown – when I spent summers there as a kid with my grandparents. Maybe it’s because I didn’t experience the overt racism that I heard was so present in the south. Maybe it’s because I wanted to be more closely connected to the histories and experiences of my ancestors.
Whatever the reason, I decided that this year I’d spend my spring break taking a solo road trip across four southern states to visit places important to the U.S. civil rights movement. I flew into Little Rock, Arkansas, rented a car, and over the course of a week made my way east to Montgomery, Alabama. I wanted each day to be meaningful but also relaxing. It was spring break after all and as a middle school teacher in April, you know that I needed some chill time. I tried to find that balance. Below you can see the powerful places I visited each day.
As you can imagine I learned a ton on this journey and had so many takeaways. Over the course of the next few days I’ll share some of my reflections from this impactful trip in separate blog posts. The first will be on the power of youth to lead, the second will examine the role of the arts in the movement, and the third will focus on the numerous untold and untaught histories I encountered on this journey.
Every single person in the United States – and the world! – should put this journey on their “Places to Go Before I Die” list. It’s strange and saddening to say that many of our elders - from diverse backgrounds, races, and religions - put their lives on the line so that we would have the freedom to take this type of journey. Some of us – youth and elders - are still dying today. While we’ve come a long way as a nation we still have a very long way to go.