The Power of One Person

Originally posted 4/13/13


Day Two of the SOM Civil Rights Road Trip was about the power of one person to change the lives of many.

We started the day at The Rosa Parks Museum on the campus of Troy University.  All of us had heard the Rosa Parks story since we were kids, but the most surprising fact to learn was that Rosa Parks actually knew the bus driver that day.  He had kicked her off of his bus 12 years before, and she had sworn she would never ride his bus again.  She was distracted that December 1, 1955 and didn’t notice the driver when she took her fateful seat in history.

From there we walked to the Greyhound bus terminal, now memorialized in honor of the brave Freedom Riders whose bus was bombed by the KKK upon arrival.  I wondered, as I looked at the list of passengers, mostly all 18-21 year olds, what would inspire my students to act with such selfless courage, conviction and compassion ???

We did a quick drive by of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home where he lived with his wife and young children while pastor at Dexter Ave. Church.  This was the home that was bombed with his family still inside.  We got our first (almost entire) group photo here.
Last stop :  The Civil Rights Memorial, run by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was incredibly moving.  Keeping the memory alive of 40 innocents slain in the name of hate, the exhibit was incredibly moving.  The sundial-like memorial lists a timeline of the 40 deaths with a gap in the circle, symbolizing all of the human sacrifices before these 40 events and those that came – and will come – after.

Last official tour stop of the day was at the Dexter Ave. Church, the only church where Martin Luther King, Jr. was the senior pastor.  The church was restored and still has his original office setup.  The mural in the basement was a timeline depicted all of the major civil rights moments in his lifetime and was a fabulous illustration of all we had learned during the day.  The church has less than 100 active members today, but it is still operating.

After a super long day – including three guided tours – we all journaled about our experience, wrote a letter to Rosa Parks and then rested before a traditional southern BBQ at Dreamland BBQ and then a rollerskating party in honor of Josh’s birthday at Looney’s Roller Rink.

So, we started our day in 1955 and ended in 1983 !


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