Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: Expressive Culture

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An Interesting Day

Victor Nava ’10 - As I considered today’s events, I assumed that they wouldn’t be as “interesting” as those on the previous days of our immersion trip. (I mean, how do you beat having your picture taken with Al Sharpton?) However, as I write this blog, I realize that today was a day of reflection which brought all of the previous events I have been a part of into clear perspective.

Today, we said “goodbye” to the city of Selma and arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. We also wrapped up our involvement with the Jubilee Celebration by covering our final event: a reenactment at the steps of the Alabama state capitol building.  Many children from the central Alabama region (and even a school from Vermont) arrived in Montgomery and sat on the steps of the capitol building to sing the “freedom songs” sung by the people who originally marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge back in 1965 on their way to Montgomery. As I was taking pictures, I took a brief second to look out into the audience and realized the amazing scene that was taking place before me. As a student interested in pursuing a career in education, I was very touched by the scene of all these kids singing songs that sparked an entire social movement. It dawned on me that kids are the lifeblood of any social movement and I was very sure that these kids would do an amazing job in keeping the fight for equality alive.

I guess that’s what this trip (at least thus far) has been about. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been told, made to read, and watch videos about the civil rights struggle of the 1960’s. Even at Wabash, I’ve taken a couple of classes that focus on the African American cultural experience. However, I realize now that I never really “understood” what the entire movement or culture was about. It’s one thing to read about or study social movements, it’s a whole other thing to live and experience it. After celebrating the events of the past, today I saw the children who will continue the struggle into the future. This trip has really done lots to open my eyes and give me a full experience of not just the African American culture, but of the actual struggle and oppression (as well as hope and optimism) that an entire group of people had to go through.

After this event, we were “free” for the rest of the day and I (along with my roommate Gary James) decided to do some exploring around the city of Montgomery before dinner. We began by seeking out the bus terminal and take a ride on a Montgomery city bus. Though it sounds kind of silly, this is the only bus ride that has actually caused me to think about something other than the place where I am trying to get. We have come a very long way from the days of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

We concluded our day by meeting up with Cleo Washington who addressed the entire group and discussed topics ranging from his job with AT&T, politics, economics, and (of course) life at Wabash. I always enjoy listening to alumni reflect on their Wabash days and give us current students advice on making it through our own journey at the school. It kind of brings this whole experience back full circle to the school that sent us here in the first place. I can’t wait to see what places we visit tomorrow.