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Last month a group of MMFS teachers, administrators, families, and trustees traveled down South for our second community Civil Rights trip. The following participants offered their perspectives on this unforgettable journey.
Elementary Division Head Teacher: I was fortunate to be able to share the recent Civil Rights journey with my daughter Lily, a 6th grader at Brooklyn Friends School, and my parents, who were both active during the civil rights movement as members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and attendees of the March on Washington. They also lost a dear friend during that time who was protesting the building of a segregated school in Cleveland, Ohio. I was eager for Lily to learn more about such a significant time in our nation’s history, but also for her (and me!) to share this experience with my parents, who have so many memories and so much wisdom about the movement. I was not disappointed. I found myself weeping while walking with my mom and dad across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and marveling at the courage so many people demonstrated while fighting for justice. The most powerful moment came when we found the name of the friend my parents lost, Bruce Klunder, on the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery. Seeing them touch his name under the flowing water on the memorial is an image I will never forget.
Elementary Division Parent: This was my second time on the MMFS Civil Rights trip and several things stood out for me this time. The first is how people in the movement were able to make their cause so universal that outsiders were willing to risk their lives to get involved. Second, the trip was such a bonding experience for all of us within the MMFS community. And third, the most moving and poignant moment for my family was walking in silence, arm in arm, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It truly shows just how far we have come.
9th Grade Student: The Civil Rights trip is something that I will never forget. It was the most powerful and fascinating 4 days of my life! From the warmth of the MMFS group to the sites we visited to the knowledgeable and kind tour guides, the entire trip was a thrill….no book or movie could have taught the lessons that I learned. I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who went on the trip and led the trip. Everyone would benefit from going and learning the ugly but valuable history of our nation. Due to the trip, I wake up every day being thankful for what I have and thankful for what I used to take for granted. (excerpted from a longer article)
Trustee: Sometimes one goes through an unexpected breakthrough in one’s life. Every time it happens there is always some pain associated with it, necessary for the clearing that follows to be filled with new possibilities.
The MMFS Civil Rights trip of 2015 was one of those events in my life. As we went deeper and deeper into the past of segregation in the U.S., as we listened to the personal accounts of the hurt and wounds it made, and as we witnessed the presence and purpose of those that at that time did something about segregation, the emotions took me into that past and there was pain, sadness and amazement in me.
The MMFS students were the permanent link to the world of today and to the future. Observing them as they processed the issues and embraced their individual causes for justice was heart-warming. And the process now starts for me to fill that clearing created with new possibilities based on purposeful actions of love and compassion. I am grateful beyond words.
Elementary Division Grandparent: Continuous effort–not strength or intelligence–is the key to unlocking our potential. Unquestionably, everyone is capable of achievement. All that’s required is that we commit ourselves with determination to the task before us, one moment at a time, one day at a time…Today my efforts are needed, in the here and now. That’s all. (portions paraphrased from a daily meditations book)