About two weeks ago, my boyfriend graduated from AFROTC Field Training, and when I found out that he was going, naturally I wanted to go because I am the best girlfriend in the world, I like to be supportive of what my boyfriend does. After looking at how expensive plane tickets were, I decided I was going to drive 10 hours to Alabama alone. It seemed like a good idea in my head. However, when I proposed the plan to my parents they shot it down like an experienced hunter shooting down a target that had been thrown in the air. My mom suggested that my dad and I drive down together since my dad does like to drive and take road trips. So it was destiny – my father and I would drive the 10 hours to Alabama together! So I drove 6 of the 10 hours of the trip! I am super proud of myself because I have never ever driven over an hour and a half anywhere
Anyways. So on our way to the hotel, we made a pit stop at Hampton University’s sister school – Tuskegee University! It was beautiful! Let me explain – Tuskegee Institute (Now University) was founded by Dr. Booker T. Washington, an illustrious Alum of Hampton Institute (now University). It is a historically Black university! It is the only school in the United States to hold a Nation Historic Site designation. It is ranked number 5, in the 2015 U.S News & Word Report Best HBCUs (right behind Hampton University!). And as if the school was not cool enough – educational wise – this year (2015), their commencement speaker was the beautiful and inspiring PhyIicia Rashad (she played Clair Huxtable on the Cosby Show). I only saw a little bit of the school, but I was surely impressed! It was so clean, and the buildings were modern. I really loved being on campus! Everyone we came in contact with at the University was so nice, and respectful. My favorite part would have to be the statue of Dr. Booker T. Washington. I really loved the statue of Dr. Booker T. Washington lifting the veil of ignorance off of the slave. It was really powerful to me.
So we went to visit Selma, Alabama. In case you didn’t know the history of this town. Here is a brief history lesson from Black Past.org
“On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper. In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7. Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people. “Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world. Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions. On March 21, the final successful march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had hoped for.”
So my father and I first drove over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and it definitely looked run down like it went through so much. I guess it was foreshadowing to all the history and emotions I was about to experience. To stand in the same spot as Martin Luther King, Jr. stood. To come over the bridge and see all those police officers, citizens and dogs, waiting to block (at all costs – meaning killing, beating, attacking) the civil rights leaders, as well as a great number of people from marching to Montgomery. It was really overwhelming to me, just to stand there and bask in that history. It took EVERYTHING in me not to just sit down there and cry. You know you always see pictures and heard about these things happening, but to see it in a movie and then actually be there is very gut wrenching. I don’t think I’m a super sensitive person, but it really gets to me. We also went by, well drove by the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Dr. King and SNCC held their meetings and a large meeting space for the movement. We had to just roll by because it was raining! But I am super happy I went and experienced being there. If we don’t know where we came from, and what we as a people experienced to get here to this point, we can never really advance, and keep moving forward.
We also visited The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Which was beautiful. This church is where Martin Luther King, Jr. preached at for a while. It was really nice, and they hold services in there. It was a great chance to just look history in the face. We also saw an interesting memorial where the Slave Depots where held in Montgomery.
So the main reason we went was for my boyfriend’s graduation, and it was beautiful! We had the greatest time! The ceremony was really nice – besides all the standing up, seating down, just to stand back up! It was kinda hot, so I felt bad for all the guys and girls that were out in the sun marching around. It was nice that they had the all the guests under a covered area, so we didn’t sweat to death either. I was a little upset that I only got to see my boyfriend for like a few hours, and then he had to go back. I wish we could’ve had the entire day to spend together, instead of just 3-4 hours. Then we couldn’t even take him off base to go to eat somewhere nice, we had to stay on base. I was kinda annoyed, but I am happy I got to see my boo.
Overall, I had a great time in Alabama, and I am super glad my father and I decided to road trip down there. I am also ecstatic to have my boyfriend back from training. 🙂
Keep It Classy,