American South #4: Past and Present

During a visit to the historical home site of Rosa Parks, Alioune Dia ’22, reflects on “whether or not the remnants of the past have seeped into the present, and if that’s been for better or for worse.”

During our third day of the American South trip, all of the students explored the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia and then headed down to the Montgomery section of Alabama, where we explored the historical home sites of Civil Rights leader, Rosa Parks. Throughout the day, we as students were forced to deal with questions of whether or not the remnants of the past have seeped into the present, and if that’s been for better or for worse. In some ways, we visited landmarks and walkways that had quotes which reinforced the ideas of service and black perseverance that the current Black Lives Matter movement harps on; However, we also bussed past areas with old-timey advertisements which propelled the idea of keeping things the way they were and generally ‘not letting those people in’- as in any non-white American or otherwise.

However, following a nice encounter with two southern men in the Hotel, I was forced to deal with the reality that some folks we meet will be courteous and others a bit more hostile. All of that is a reflection of the history of Montgomery Alabama, not necessarily a reflection of our influence and or impact on it. We have to come in prepared to be shocked and surprised, for better or for worse, as outsiders – only with that can we truly take in everything the city has to offer without our biases dimming our experiences in this historic American city.

 

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