Sunday, March 8, 2009

Baylor Civil Rights Tour Group 2, Day #1 Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Wow, what a day it has been! I’m sitting on the bus right now as we head to Memphis, Tennessee after a long day of traveling. If you did not know, Baylor is leading a group of students on something called the “Civil Rights Tour” over Spring Break. We’re traveling across the South in what basically is a “classroom on wheels” to see many important places within the Civil Rights movement.

We left Waco at an early at 6 a.m. I haven’t woken up that early all year at Baylor and it was super hard! Especially, after spending the night before till about 3am packing (my own fault!). I can sort of understand what a soldier feels like because I had to lug a weeks worth of gear to the Bearpit. I slept for most of the morning and ended up waking up around 11 a.m., just as we arrived in Hope, Arkansas – the birthplace of former President Bill Clinton and Governor Mike Huckabee.

We left after grabbing a quick lunch towards Little Rock, Arkansas. The first day’s itinerary was focused on the Little Rock Central High School and all that happened there with the first forcible integration in the nation. Learning more about the Little Rock Nine and what they went through for an education was very interesting. This was history coming alive and I really could not believe that I was at the very school where 11,000 federal paratroopers, for an entire year, guarded a small group of students against a mob that was angry at integration.

The school is still open today and the neighborhood is still there. It’s just very hard to believe that so much happened in what looks like a “normal” town. I can be naive and pretend that racism does not exist today (it does), but it’s hard not to see the fruits of what started in Little Rock in 1957. The sacrifices, the triumphs, the pain caused by racism are becoming a little bit more real as we start the first leg of our trip.

After a great meal at Matt’s house, whose parents invited us to their home in Arkansas, we’re off again on the bus. It’s dark outside and all of us are tired, but we’ve had a great time to discuss this day in our small groups on the bus. I can already sense that the conversations and the learning that is going on in this trip is definitely something that not every college student experiences. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do tomorrow.

-Rachana Chhin

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