Heading South

As our trip has begun to head more and more south I have felt increasingly out of my element. Although this feeling has evoked fear in me, it has also been extremely powerful. My fear of the unknown was pushed to the limit as we traveled through Alabama a few days ago, Alabama is much different than Philadelphia to say the least. The homey feel of the north was entirely absent in my mind as our bus plundered through the vacant streets of Selma Alabama. The bus stopped suddenly at a small average looking building, all of a sudden an African American women climbed on our bus and yelled at the men to get off immediately and face the wall. As the women on the trip stood on the bus apprehensively I began to feel that something was not right. A moment later the same women climbed back on and ordered all the females to face the wall. As I stood next the other members of my group facing an unfamiliar wall I realized that I, and the rest of my companions had just become slaves. The women stood behind us and screamed to us to turn around as she inspected our mouths and sent us into the building. We were told not to make eye contact with her and to face the wall. Before I knew it I was trapped in a dark room and the usually familiar faces of my group members became unknown. I began to cry. There were screams all around me and the woman who dragged us off the bus was saying the N word, a word I have never said, a word that has evoked fear in me since I was a child. We moved from room to room and faced various trails that slaves would have encountered. Every test was just as impossible to pass. I thought I was going to pass out I could feel the pain of an entire people in my heart, I could hear the pain, and I was seeing it right before my eyes. All of a sudden the woman lead us into a room that was light, a familiar looking room. She told us to sit down and that we could not heal until we knew the truth about what happened. I could not stop crying, even though the journey was over, even though I was not truly a slave, I was all of a sudden a witness. And as we sat in that circle and discussed ways to heal all I could think was: what have we done to humanity, what have we done to so many innocent people? And by the end of this healing circle I had an epiphany: at the end of the day it does not matter your race, religion, or social- economic background, every person has prejudice and every person has pain, but everybody has the power to change the world. I have the power to change the world.

Liz Fletman, Central High School, OU 2010


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