Summer Journey Blog!

More from Montgomery

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Georgette Norman, executive director emeritus of the Rosa Parks Museum, challenges students with the question, “How do you think, feel, and act towards people who don’t think, feel, and act like you.”

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Rev. Robert and Jean Graetz helped to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Their home was bombed several times, but according to Jean, “”The lord put a circle of love around us so that the hate that was being thrown at us could not kill us.”

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Students reflect at the Montgomery Greyhound Station where Freedom Riders were attacked by a KKK mob in May, 1961.

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Class 22 learns from Joe Levin, co-Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, about SPLC’s work to track and dismantle modern hate groups in the USA.

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SPLC’s Civil Rights Memorial, where we honor the martyrs whose lives were taken in the struggle for justice.

Alabama Statehouse

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A century and a half ago, Jefferson Davis stood at the Alabama State House to assume the leadership of the Confederacy. Half a century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed 25,000 after the Selma to Montgomery March, assuring a nation that the arc bends towards justice. Today, blue lights illuminate this statehouse in memoriam of law enforcement officers, only some of the lives lost recently to gun violence. #OUDC22 pledges to pull out their pliers, keep their eyes on the prize, and keep the arc bending towards justice. #BlackLivesMatter

Equal Justice Initiative

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An #OUDC22 student thanks Anthony Ray Hinton, who was freed last year with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative after thirty years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. “I wanted to be free,” he said, “and the only way to be free is to not have hatred or animosity in your heart towards anyone. I do not hate the people that put me here.”

Grappling with our past

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Southern trees bear strange fruit, and the earth in these jars bears the scars in the soil–and the blood at the root–of just a few of the 4,000 lynchings of African Americans in the United States. “The past has been a mint/Of blood and sorrow./That must not be/ True of tomorrow.” (“History,” by Langston Hughes)

Dr. Shelley Stewart

Dr. Shelley Stewart, a lifelong human rights activist who used his position as a radio DJ go help organize Birmingham’s children’s marches in 1963, embraces Class 22 students.

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16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park

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Class 22 was welcomed to Birmingham with a riveting church service at 16th Street Baptist Church, a congregation that would not be shaken after the 1963 bombing that killed four young children.

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At Kelly Ingram Park, students reflected at a “place of revolution and reconciliation,” walking on ground zero of the Birmingham Children’s March while noticing the poverty that continues to plague the city today.

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Students discussed trauma and hope with Lisa McNair, whose sister Denise McNair was killed when the 16th St. Baptist Church was bombed. “I had a sister I didn’t even get a chance to know. I don’t know what she sounded like,” she said. “It’s a weight of sadness.”

Rabbi Jonathan Miller

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Class 22 learned about the story of Judaism in Birmingham from Rabbi Jonathan Miller, the leader of the community’s reform congregation. He also hosted Class 22 for a pool party at his home!