Wednesday, April 20, 2005

How Far We've Come - Geetha

Though I have been to the South before, I have never had an opportunity to do any historical sightseeing until yesterday. We were able to stop in Montgomery, Alabama where we saw the capitol building, the civil rights memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Seeing these landmarks was significantly more moving than any other American historical landmarks I have ever visited. It was powerful to stand on the spot where Jefferson Davis declared succession from the Union, visit the church where the Montgomery Bus Boycott was planned, and sit outside the Southern Poverty Law Center knowing that Morris Dees was possibly working inside. It was incredible to realize that these different eras in the fight against racism have all had such strong foundations in buildings that are just a few blocks from one another.

I would like to say that seeing these different buildings made me hopeful about the progress that has been made over the years. It is definitely a huge step to go from fighting a war over slavery to suing the Klan for monetary damages. But I can’t say that I felt that hope. How could I feel hopeful when the capitol building—a government funded institution—is surrounded by statues and monuments memorializing the Confederacy? Or when there has to be a security guard stationed outside the Southern Poverty Law Center? Maybe we have come a long way, as textbooks and social convention would have us believe, but I think we need to take a more honest look at what kinds of progress has been made and what progress is still left. While slavery is not still around, how are people of color used in the workforce today? Although a lot of civil rights legislation has been passed, how well is it being enforced? I feel like we do a lot of patting ourselves on the back about “how far we’ve come” without being honest or critical about what our progress means and what it indicates for the still remaining struggles.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, true. We like to tell ourselves we have done so much, and yet the real story may reveal much more. I am so jealous you got to visit SPLC! Just the pictures of your visit gave me pause. Keep up the great work and beware of the mullet ...

April 21, 2005 7:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do have along ways to go, but because of young human beings such as you,we can see light at the end of the tunnel.Please keep up the good work.

April 21, 2005 9:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

those photos of you all at the civil rights memorial are really moving. how do you think that what you're doing with mixed race issues is an extension or continuation of the civil rights movement? (thank you!)

April 21, 2005 7:45 PM


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