Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: Expressive Culture

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At the Spur of the Moment

Reginald Steele ’12 - Being a native of the south, I know a lot of history of all the blood, sweat, and tears that has been shed for my freedom. Leaving the south, I reflected several events that were not on the itinerary. I learned more from the events not planned because it happened at the spur of the moment. The southern hospitality is a priceless value which the African-American Rhetoric Class experienced during our one week adventure.
                Upon arriving to Selma, Alabama, a small family of four ladies asked our group to attend a Reenactment Museum, where all of us became the unexpected actors and actresses. “Get against the wall, niggers!” is what we heard from a female officer. She became the authoritator using the n word several times as used back in the days of slave auctions. She once responded, “All white niggers step forward!” It intimidated the white people in our group and they didn’t step forward so she said it louder and nastier to grasp the attention of all of the white people. She told us to shuffle through the door and some students began to march. She then began to get nastier and call them dumb and stupid n words as recited in the days of segregation. Once the slave trade began, we were made to sit on a boat made for eight people, however all fourteen of us sat on the boat as slaves were made to sit on for months going to country to country. This Reenactment Museum gave our group a firsthand experience on how slaves were treated. The way we were treated was dehumanizing and painful. As I was called the n word numerous times, I felt the pain of my forefathers when they were sprayed by water hoses and bitten by dogs. 
                Upon arriving to Birmingham, Alabama we walked through the Kelly Ingram Civil Rights Memorial Park and a man by the name of Reginald Sanders stopped us and gave us a civil rights tour. He gave us a quiz and the history of the park ambitiously. He questioned the young generation, “Do you really appreciate what was done in the past for your freedom?”   I personally reminisced the past to see if I truly appreciated it. I wouldn’t be able to go through the struggles that my forefathers went through because violence where used frequently throughout these movements. I appreciate what they went through because they have been the foundation for my future without the chains of ignorance and segregation. 
                This trip taught me new things that I had never experienced before in my last eighteen years of living in the Deep South. I learned an old school rap in Montgomery, Alabama that says, “Don’t push me because I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head!” A radio host by the name of Lady Freedom remixed the song by saying, “Don’t trap me set me free!” I have learned to appreciate the traps of my forefathers because it has left me free today.