My family and I traveled to Memphis Tennessee. While we were in Memphis we went to the Civil Rights Museum. The museum and the Lorraine Hotel both had a profound impact on me. At first I was reading the history of the hotel with a certain sense of detachment. I knew what had happened there, it was sad, but I was not really too affected by it.
Then I moved on to reading the history starting with the first slaves coming here. It moved on to the civil war to the birth of the KKK and their activities, including pictures of a lynched black man surrounded by smiling white men. As I continued, I felt increasingly ashamed to not just be white, but to be a human being period. I followed the progression to Montgomery bus boycott. My step-father then pointed out something to me that I had never given thought to before.
â–º honorable mention 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
My father’s mother was passing white, or a very light skinned black and white woman, but you can still tell that she has black in her. Looking at my father you can see it in his hair and lips but his skin is light, but growing up he had to go to the black schools. If the civil rights movement had not happened my life would be very different. Even though you can not tell I had any black ancestors, people would have known and I would have had to attend black schools. Moving on to the schools and I saw that black schools were severally under funded, the school boards did not care about seeing them fitted with good teachers, equipment, or buildings. I would not have the opportunities that every child has today.
I went on to read more about the progression of the movement and the non violent protest. I continued to be ashamed to be both white and a human as I saw two black people wanting to be served at a restaurant burnt with cigarettes, have milkshakes and drinks dumped on their heads. Then we got to the Freedom Riders, and I remembered that the movement started with blacks, but ended with all colors banning together for change. I saw the burnt bus and a picture of a white man, a Freedom Rider, who volunteered to get out first when he knew there was a mob out there. He was beaten almost to death, I saw the meaning of courage and that though there were whites who were hateful and violent, there were more who were not. I went through the museum and saw the best and worst of both sides.
For Dr. King’s non violent method, there was Malcolm X, before his trip to Mecca, and the Black Panthers. For the members of the KKK there were the Freedom Riders and the crowd at the March on Washington. I saw where Dr. King was killed for the movement to fulfill the dream he and many others had, and I looked farther out the window to the streets bellow and saw that dream come to life in reality. At first I was ashamed, but now I am proud. I look around in a classroom, in a restaurant, or on a bus and can see people of every color. My father and other members of my family are racist, but I am not. It ends with me, I will never be like that, and by doing so Dr. King still lives though me and everyone else like me. The saying “You can kill the dreamer, but not the dream,” never made sense.
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