Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Power outage rocks campus
Power outage rocks campus
Jack Brandt September 13, 2023

The Civil Rights Movement yesterday and today

A number of Augustana students used their spring break to travel to the south and learn more about the Civil Rights movement leaders, protesters, and how they relate to today.
The Office of Multicultural Student Life and the Office of Student Life and Leadership offered a six day trip from Feb. 26 to Mar. 3 to travel to Tennessee and Alabama for students of any year or major. Those who showed an interest sent in an application, and 16 students and four faculty members were selected to go. Places they visited ranged from museums, churches, and other places with important historical Civil Rights connections.
While some students only ever read textbooks to learn about Civil Rights history, the students selected for the trip were able to learn about history through real activists from the movement and heard stories from the marches in the ’50s and ’60s.
The students had time to talk and write reflections after visiting Memphis, Montgomery, and Selma.
Sophomore Vanessa Dominguez said her favorite part of the trip was marching across the same bridge that protesters marched across on “Bloody Sunday” back in the ’50s.
“I had to take some time to process it. I’m really invested in race and equality, and I think just being there with the people who were in the [Civil Rights] movement made me think, ‘If I knew when I got to the other side of this bridge I was going to be beaten, would I have done this?’ It was surreal,” Dominguez said.
The trip helped students recognize similarities between the Civil Rights movement and movements happening now. One thing Dominguez thought the movements today were lacking was community. She’d like for more people to interact and talk with each other to help fix that problem.
Sophomore Alyssa Wojcik had never been that far south before the trip. She said that even though they got a warning about the confederate flags, everyone was unsettled and it was unpleasant to see. Afterwards, she was better able to understand what people of other races have gone through and better recognize her white privilege. She met people who were active in the civil rights movements, and meeting them helped her to understand the extremes of what they had gone through. Wojcik would recommend the trip to other students so they can know more about the Civil Rights movement in the south.
“It was very beneficial to have interacted experiences with history instead of just reading about it,” Wojcik said.
The trip was brought to Augustana by the Director of Multicultural Student Life, Samuel Payan. Payan went on a similar trip in the past and wanted to share the experience with Augustana students. He related the experience of the first trip to getting a new phone excitement, and the second time there was still the excitement, but he just started to use it better and related back to his work.
“When one says ‘There are no leaders in today’s society,’ you learn in Selma… we are all leaders in some way,” Payan said.
Ken Brill, the Associate Dean of Students, said it was an amazing experience not only for the students but also for the faculty that went. They were able to understand the realities of what historically took place, what strategies were successful, and also heard the personal stories from people that were marchers. Brill is hopeful of another trip to Selma to take place next year, and many years to come.

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The Civil Rights Movement yesterday and today