A Day of Learning
Josh Raspopovich ’11 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Booker T. Washington are just some of the historic people we learned about today on our immersion trip to the South. This whole experience has been very eye opening for all students of our African American Rhetoric and Expressive Culture class, whites and blacks alike. I believe today was especially important to our understanding of the struggles that African Americans endured throughout the history of the United States. The first eye opening experience our class had today took place in the Rosa Parks Museum. Here all 10 students and both Professors Lake and Timmerman went back in time on a bus similar to the one Rosa Parks made her stand in. We learned about the bus boycott in Montgomery, AL, started by Rosa Parks and led by MLK. The impact this boycott had on the bus business was immense with the company losing over $3000 every day. This was mainly because 75% of their customers were black.
Our next destination was the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where MLK actually preached. We saw the very pulpit where MLK gave sermons to his congregation every Sunday. Also in the basement of the church was a beautiful mural depicting the struggle Dr. King endured during his fight for equality. Our next destination directly ties in with the historic background of MLK being that we visited the Dexter Parsonage Museum where King and his family lived for 5 years. Here we got to experience the bombing of their front porch and received insight as to what Dr. King was confronted with and how he overcame this adversity. We also saw the very same furniture such as couches and beds that the King’s sat and slept in. This was a very surreal experience for all of us, imagining King in this house just 60 years ago, pacing in the very rooms we stood in.
We got this same feeling of euphoria at the Civil Rights Memorial Center. Here we saw a memorial created by architect Maya Lin that honors those who died during the Civil Rights Movement and serves as a medium for education and reflection about the struggle for equality. This circular monument had water flowing from the middle descending down to the ground. Also engraved in it were the names of 40 people who gave their lives for the cause. Inside the Memorial Center we saw pictures of many people who had died during this time period, from little children to full grown men. Also we all submitted our names, as well as Wabash College and the Malcolm X Institute, onto a digital cascading wall that showed all the names of people who stood for equality and supported the Civil Rights Movement.
These entries will forever be in the database, noting that Wabash College and its students support the fight for equality. Our experience on this trip has been a priceless one and has taught us not to stand for any type of generalizations or bigotry. We know that we must stand for what is right and continue to fight for equality for all citizens regardless of race, sex, or creed until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.