A few weeks following the end of the miniterm we asked the students to reflect on the trip.
Here is what they had to say:


This trip was a life changing experience.  It was a journey into a past that is definitely worth reliving.  This trip filled the void that was missing in my study of the Civil Rights movement; it allowed me to come full circle with the movement and its participants.  I was able to make a concrete connection to a movement that allows me to exercise my rights, liberties and privileges today.  The trip gave me the truth and an experience of the Civil Rights Movement that would forever be engrained in my mind.  This trip is one that I will never forget.  I will never forget walking on the grounds of a slave plantation.  I will never forget touching the bars of the jail that held Dr. King.  I will never forget walking over the Edmus Pettus Bridge like those marchers did over 40 years.  I will not forget seeing where both Dr. King and Medgar Evers took their last breath.  I will never forget the stories of Charles Person, C.T. Vivian, Joanne Bland, Carolyn McKinstry, Lynda Blackmom Lowery, Mr. Dudley, Minnie Jean Brown Trickey and Thelma Mothershed Wair.  And I will never forget the fight, the struggles, and the stories of my ancestors which have brought us to here and now.  This trip has taught me to fight for what I believe in and to continue the fight of those who came before me. 


This trip has changed my life and has inspired me to do a lot more for my country.  I appreciate what I have learned in Professor Lawson’s class more than I did before.  I have learned from many individuals that have lived a very different life than me but have revealed the struggles still awaiting me in the future.  However, I know that through it all-I have the time and the ability to grow and learn from their experiences.   I had the opportunity to speak to these individuals who lived through a time that I had once only known through textbooks and lectures.  There are no words to express the how I felt after listening to their life experiences and perception of the world-the emotions are overwhelming.  I learned that education is one of the most valuable things a person can attain and I am privileged because of this opportunity. I always knew that it was important but now I value my own opportunity of obtaining an education even more.  Also, I learned that our generation has different modes of interest and growth but nevertheless we cannot forget about the past.  We need to utilize these individuals because of their trials and hardships.  They are living history and we need to learn from them now.   Overall, I am encouraged to do what needs to be done in our country by filling the gaps and correcting the flaws. I believe that we need to solve the problems in our country and every bit counts. I want to become a role model to those in my community and show them how they are privileged because of all the opportunities they are able to have. It has inspired me to return to the South and help youths because they are the next generation.  I want to someday correct the textbooks that lack information on our history in all aspects.   I have to make an effort towards change because if I don’t then who will do it-it is no longer a choice but rather an obligation.  In all realms, this trip has made me into a stronger, wiser, and better individual.  


This mini-term it is something I am really glad that I was able to do.  This experience has led me to alter my way of thinking.  Everywhere we went was a new culture to me, something that I had not yet experienced in my lifetime.  I absolutely got out of the trip what I wanted; I wanted to be immersed in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.  Being immersed in the history made me realize that it isn’t really history after all; we are currently living in an era where civil rights and liberties have not yet been fully achieved.  I knew of these issues within the United States prior to going on the trip but being around all of this historical significance really put modern issues in perspective.  This trip also made me realize that you don’t have to be someone extraordinary to do something great.  All you have to have is a goal, a dream and the passion to pursue it.  You have to know in your heart what the right thing to do is and be willing to sacrifice for it.  The people of the Civil Rights Movement I have realized were not mythological creatures with a divine mission.  They were everyday people who bonded together to do something extraordinary.  Their story is truly inspiring and it is up to the next generation to take the torch to make the world they inhabit a better place for themselves and for generations to come.


The Civil Rights mini term was a life changing experience for me.  As excited as I was for the trip, nothing I could have predicted would have come close to what my classmates and I experienced.  When I tell people I traveled the south for 18 days, most assume that it was just a big party; however this was not the case.  This was more than just a learning experience; it was a living experience, as Professors Lawson and Maggie Tongue would say, “living in the presence of the past.”  The historic sites we visited the influential people we met, even the amount of time we spent traveling on a bus in between cities, it all influenced us. Before this trip I had an academic view of the Civil Rights Movement.  Much of what I knew I read about in a book, took notes on from a lecture, or watched in a movie or documentary.  But actually going to the places I’ve read about and meeting people I’ve read about or have seen on television; it was almost mind boggling.  This trip instilled a faith in me, a faith in the common people as I realized during this trip that it was the common people who gave life to the movement.  This trip has given me the confidence to do and go forward with agendas or projects that before this trip I may not have felt were possible.  This trip has motivated me to give back, it has motivated me to educate, it has motivated me to share not only my experiences, but the experiences of those we met. Going on this trip was not just something I wanted to do for myself.  I wanted to do this for my parents, for my grandparents, for their parents and their parents.  I wanted to catch maybe just a glimpse of what it was like, and how far this country has really come.  I was able to do this and it has inspired me in not only writing my thesis, but in my work ethic academically and while on the job.  


Now that this mini-term is over, the question I am asking myself if whether I got all that I expected?  Did I learn more about the Civil Rights Movement and more about myself?  And did I ultimately get my answer that who I am today is who they were years ago.  Well, yes I did and I got more than expected.  The struggles and the successes that emerged from the Movement have taught me that with every accomplishment you must first endure hardship.  It’s unlikely that you will ever reach success without getting bruised or losing loved ones along the way.  The struggles that we experience may seem harsh at times but in the end you will have a greater appreciation of this accomplishment.  This is what I saw when we spoke to many of the Civil Rights pioneers, a sigh of relief that the storm has passed but a continuous reflection of the struggle to reach the goal of the  Movement.  In this aspect I can truly say that yes I am today who they were years ago because I too appreciate my accomplishments when I struggle first.  The only difference is I’m unsure if I could ever have as much courage as they did to risk their lives in the name of justice and racial equality; however, I will not compare my struggles to theirs because I strongly believe that God won’t give us more than what we can bear.  I enjoyed this mini-term and I’m glad that I made wonderful connections with the students who came.  The friendships I have developed with them just prove that no matter what race, socio-economic class, or gender we belong to, there are always things that we all have in common.  Maturity is the key to realizing that those groups do not equal a lifetime of friendships.  What a difference this mentality would have made 60 years ago.


For me, the trip was everything I expected and more.  To this day, it continues to be difficult to put my reaction to some of the experiences and interactions into words.  With Dr. Sampson providing me with the opportunity to do this through her scholarship made the trip that much more important to me.  Her contribution exemplifies exactly what the trip was designed for, to make it possible for others to learn about this history and to be inspired to pass it on to others.  From the trip I have been motivated and a little more enlightened what the Civil Rights movement has done and can do for future generations.


When I saw this mini-term being offered at Union, I choose it for a two reasons. First of all, I am a History Major and African Studies and English Minor, and despite this, I did not know that much about the Civil Rights Movement.  Secondly, I knew this trip would take me out of my comfort zone and introduce me to new people and places that I never thought I would meet or go.  But let me tell you, I had no idea what I was in for.  For me, the most important part of the trip was meeting the prominent figures who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.  Through meeting Charles Person, C.T. Vivian, Carolyn McKinstry, Joanne Bland, Minniejean Brown Tricky and Thelma Mothershed Wair, I was truly able to see the restrictions of the movement, as well as the need for my generation to keep pushing further for racial equality in our own country.


When we first began this trip I expected to feel psyched up about the power of people and what a social movement can accomplish.  To be honest, it was difficult for me to hear many of our speakers say that not enough had been done.  There were times when I just felt that America was damaged beyond repair and that I just wanted to move out of the country.  When I had returned home and had a chance to reflect a bit I realized that I couldn’t look at the whole problem because I can’t fix it by myself and running away from it wouldn’t do anybody any good.  This trip taught me one very important thing about myself and about what I should do with my future.  I now know that I need to do something that will help someone else.  Financially sufficient, well-educated Americans are an extremely small and fortunate population that I am so fortunate to be a part of.  Since I didn’t earn it and it was just luck of birth, I feel like it is my responsibility to take what I have and do something for someone who hasn’t had the same opportunities.  I think it’s safe to say that this trip made each and every one of us more aware of the world around us and our own good fortune.   I think this understanding will make a big difference in our own lives and those of the people we meet in our futures.


This was definitely an opportunity of a life time for me.  I have decided that my life’s work will revolve around providing access to opportunities of upward mobility to persons from underrepresented backgrounds.  I have seen the work that has been done and struggle that lies ahead for me and my generation.  Not only did this experience make me proud to be an African-American, but it also gave me hope and courage to test the waters and speak out against injustice. 

I have also learned that reality takes many difference shapes all over the world, it can be a happy one or a saddening one.  I will continue to pray for the speakers that we met as it was evident that they suffered internally, but in the end, the larger message was that wrongdoers can be forgiven if you understand their ignorance.

“The struggle of people against power is the struggle of forgetting against memory.”

The fight must continue and it begins with ME.

Jamie: After returning from the trip and discussing it with my friends, I found myself using some of the same descriptive words I used about the trip before I left. I feel as though everyone in the group learned so much and became so passionate about it, but once we came back we realized we were still in the same place where the majority of students and adults still have no idea… This trip has linked much of what I have learned in books with images and experiences in my mind that I will never forget.


When I look back at the trip, I feel emotionally exhausted. I can’t believe I met these real life heroes, I can’t believe I traveled through time, and I can’t believe that this trip has been realized. My passion for African-American history has been nurtured through my time at Union. The books I’ve read and the topics I have discussed helped me to fully grasp my history and existence.

But what exhausts me the most is a feeling of confusion that I have returned home with. Like many of our speakers I have always been aware that in respect to Civil Rights, there is more to do. I know in my heart that my purpose in life is to do my part to help build what Vivian describes as the “Beloved Community.” But how can I when these heroes all see my generation as apathetic? I must confess I would have to agree, but that just makes my job that much harder. I want to see change, and I want to be the change…


The Civil Rights Public History mini-term opened my eyes to so many new things.  The trip went above and beyond my expectations providing me with opportunities to discover new cities, listen to and interact with several influential amazing and inspirational people, and force me to step outside of my comfort zone.

It took me about a week to finally start feeling a change in myself, but I knew the whole time since our arrival in Charleston, there was not a single event that did not move me in some way or another.  Not only was I able to learn about my own country’s history and present state in the Deep South, but I was able to embark on a journey of self-discovery as well. 

Looking back on the trip, I can distinctly remember being nervous, hesitant, and afraid to confront the ignorant museum guide who stepped onto our tour bus in Selma, Al.  My first instinct was to drive away fast.  Alas I was overruled and some others in the group proudly stood up and asked questions that could have been viewed as uncomfortable.  I slouched in my seat.  That experience in particular combined with so many other occurrences throughout the mini-term forced me to re-evaluate my behavior, my beliefs.  I am so glad that I had to question myself, otherwise I would have probably remained the same.

Several weeks after the end of the voyage, I am grateful to recognize the change in myself I had to make if I want to make a difference here or abroad.  That is, I can’t be afraid.  I have to take charge, to learn how to get things accomplished by being forward.  Otherwise, injustices continue to nurture because without challenges to authority or society, the South remains the same.


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