Civil Rights Movement Tour Part 2

on Jul 23, 2013 in Blog by

Ronetta Jenkins is a summer intern for West Wind Education Policy. She will be a Junior this fall at Iowa City High. This is part 2 of a 2-part blog.

The third stop was Montgomery, Alabama where we visited the Rosa Parks Museum. I always thought Rosa didn’t give up her seat because she was tired. That wasn’t the case. Rosa Parks was just tired of getting pushed around by the Whites. Rosa Parks wasn’t really breaking the law because the law said if there aren’t any more seats no one was required to give up their seat. After Rosa was taken to jail the word traveled fast and a professor named Jo Ann Robinson from Alabama University heard what happened and was determined to make a change because the same thing had happened to her. She mimeographed handouts and got them out to the Black community so the boycott could start. The Bus Boycott started on December 1, 1955. Blacks wouldn’t take the bus any longer; they would walk everywhere. A taxi business was started where they used church cars and vans to transport to different places but still didn’t use buses. At this point, the city was losing thousands of dollars each day. Why? Seventy percent of bus riders were African American. They knew they needed to make a change. The boycott lasted 381 days.  After those 381 days the city came to a conclusion that they were losing too much money so the buses weren’t segregated any longer. I always think about today and how we Blacks will still walk straight to the back of the bus like no one fought for us to have freedom of choice to sit where we would like. As the days went on and we visited the different places my life was being impacted day by day. I was realizing how much was going on back then that we aren’t going through right now, but that the movement was to get us where we are right now.

Day 2 in Montgomery we took a trip to Martin Luther King’s house. This is the house where he had reached his breaking point. After he constantly got threats day-to-day saying his family would be killed if they weren’t out of there in three days. This didn’t move Martin; he stayed. But three days later a bomb was thrown in the house. Martin rushed to see if his family was okay. He knew at this point something had to be done. That night Martin Luther King sat at his kitchen table just thinking, really broken down and at his lowest point, a voice begins to talk to Martin Luther King. He’s told not to give up this is not the end of you. They want to see you down but they can’t keep you down. You have to show them that this is just the beginning of how strong you are and you will take whatever else they throw your way.

I haven’t seen a stronger man, who could put up with all of this and still want peace; still didn’t want the Blacks to fight back. He had a goal that he was going to reach and he wasn’t going to do it with violence, he wasn’t going to show any sign of weakness. This made me realize ambition is strong when you have things you need to get done and must be done. Keep your drive and your positive mindset that you can; no one will stop you.

The Civil Rights Movement Trip always moves me in some way. There’s not one time that I have been on this trip when I haven’t been impacted. This is a really great opportunity for students to not only get information on their background but to also be put in history’s shoes to know what it felt like, looked like, and was like to want to be equal.

We have to realize things had to be earned, education today had to be earned, and being treated the same as everyone else had to be earned. Instead of Blacks fighting Blacks we need to be helping one another out not bringing each other down. As we headed off to Atlanta this gave me time to soak it all in; this gave me time to really get the understanding of the Civil Rights Movement. This wasn’t a joke it was something to better my future and it is something I take pride in knowing and learning more and more that I don’t learn in Iowa.

This trip has made me appreciate what those before me had to go through to get me the freedom, the education I want, having the choice to be able to sit anywhere I would like on the public buses. These individuals gave me a future.

I thank Mr. Harper for the opportunity and letting me attend this trip four years in a row. He’s really opened my eyes to show me I have a future ahead of me. I could do anything I put my mind too. A person can have dreams all their life but it’s up to them to make those dreams come true or not. Our choices today will affect our tomorrow. We may think no one is watching around us but someone is always watching the things we do. No matter how many challenges and tribulations are thrown at us it’s in our own hands on how we take on the situation, how we handle it. I’ve learned how to push through the hardest of situations; just because something is bad right now doesn’t mean it will be that way forever. See the good in every bad situation and know that bad things happen for a reason even if you don’t know the reasoning for it.



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