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Civil Rights Trip: Discovering the Unknown

Patrick Jahnke ’18 — Today was different. On most days of this trip, we have travelled to different museums or churches and talked with tour guides and people in the area. However, since today was Thanksgiving, the museums were closed, and the tour guides were off with their families. So instead, today we walked around Meridian and Jackson, Mississippi looking at different Civil Rights Movement and Blues/music markers. These markers taught me that there is a lot that I do not know.

As a black studies minor, I have spent the last two or so years mostly studying African American culture and history. There are subjects that I have learned over and over again and some that I learned for the first time, but I’ve tended to think that after two years, I knew a lot of the history. Today showed me that I was wrong. So much of African American history, especially the musical aspects of the history and the importance of music in the culture, is still foreign to me. No matter how much I continue to learn, there will always be more for me to discover.

I think that this shows the importance of the markers being up. Most of them that we have seen were installed within the last couple of years, which was surprising to most of us, but does make a little sense. Everyone learns about the Civil Rights Movement in schools, but the American education system seems to only teach the parts of the Movement that they want to show. We learn about Martin Luther King Jr and the importance of non-violence, but leave out other important leaders, such as Malcolm X. We learn about protests such as boycotts, sit-ins, and the Freedom Riders. But we don’t hear about the repercussions of those protests, such as the Freedom Riders being attacked multiple times and churches being bombed. These markers not only tell people that these things happened, but show them exactly where they happened. History, no matter how much a country wants to forget it, needs to never be forgotten. These markers are important because they teach people walking around about events that they have never heard about. These markers are important because they help people discover the unknown.