The March Continues

As we all reflect on the experiences we had this past week, we are struck with unbelief that we were able to learn and see so many important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement that we will remember forever. University of Washington student Aida Solomon writes about our civic duty:

Brown Chapel

Group shot in front of Brown Chapel with footsoldier Joanne Bland

One thing I have learned through my experience on this civil rights pilgrimage is the outright theft our education system has committed. I understand I am still a student and the notion that throughout our entire lives we are always students, but there comes a point in time when you’re taking “U.S. History” and most if not the majority of the issues involving race and equality are completely omitted and are not revisited for further investigation in the classroom. This exclusion carries a powerful message to me personally, in which I associate neglect and a lack of respect for those who have truly fought and sacrificed to make the words of the constitution applicable to all Americans.

Fortunately, we can learn a great deal from our past no matter how atrocious it may have been at times. However long or difficult the process may be, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. Specifically what we can learn from this history is that the power of education saves lives. At first, in visiting these historical scenes and landmarks in civil rights history, I had a problem with accepting that the solution to the cruel and sometimes gruesome acts toward people of color was just education. I couldn’t accept that retaliation wasn’t the first thought on the minds of the fighters because it was surely a notion that I could not get rid of when hearing their stories. In the same fashion however, I could not get rid of the notion of non-violent behavior. I have so much respect for the freedom riders, activists and educators who resorted to non-violence in order to send a message to their oppressor that they refused to accept a society in which they were treated unjustly.

rock in hand

Joanne Bland told us all to take a rock back to where we live from the exact place she started her march over the Edmund Pettis Bridge over 50 years ago.

With the University of Washington announcing the implementation of the diversity credit just a couple of days ago, I realized the weight that this shift in our community had. So many young Americans are told briefly about the civil rights movement and some, like myself, were taught the material quickly illustrating the misconception that we were done with the movement. However for many individuals that don’t fit the “norm” in our society, they learn the hard way that this movement is long from over. I can truly say that I am proud to be from the University of Washington and extremely proud of the students who consistently advocated the implementation of this diversity requirement. When asking every fighter, activist, contributor and believer in the civil rights movement what we as members, students and teachers in the community can do, the first word they uttered was education. The power of knowledge is an intangible thing that no one can and ever will take from you. However it can be deprived from you. And this group that has embarked on this journey together has an obligation to carry the torch while it is still lit. To carry the momentum we have so uniquely been bestowed upon. It is no longer a choice but our civic duty.