Today in class we watched a video called Never Lose Sight of Freedom. It was talking about the Civil Rights Movement, which is what we’ve been talking about in class lately. I grew up around the Montgomery area, so the richness of it was kind of wasted on me. I’ve always kind of been focused on getting out of this small town and moving to a big city so I can have things bigger than what happens in Montgomery, Alabama. It never occurred to me that people all over the world look at Montgomery and see a beacon of hope.
I think Viola Liuzzo is my new hero. Watching films like this makes me wonder if I would have been strong enough to do what they did. Could I have been like Viola and risked my life for the good of others? Could I have walked 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery? I drive a good part of what they walked every day, and it’s not a short trip. Could I have the mind frame they had and say “If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving”?
My grandparents were alive when this happened, and I’ve heard stories from them. They were young, but they still remember all the terrible things that happened. This happened right here where we live. Is it sad that I’ve seen those buildings in person before? Watching this film, I can point out buildings and churches that I’ve seen plenty of times before. You just don’t always stop to think about all the terrible things that happened there sixty years before. During the Civil Rights Movement, horrific things that you picture happening in other countries that we view as less civilized, but it happened right here not too long ago.
The sacrifices and the lives lost don’t need to be forgotten. Young people today don’t vote, even though our grandparents or great-grandparents fought for that right for us. They people in the video are absolutely right. Freedom in America didn’t happen in the 1700s when we won the Revolutionary War. It didn’t even happen in the 1860s when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It happened in the 1960s when black people in America were finally given the right to vote, so they could be viewed as equal citizens of our country. People were being denied the right to vote in America, even though our country is known as the land of the free. How is it right that America went and fought in World War II, when we had things just as violent happening at home?
I know that people are capable of evil things. Evil things have always happened, and they will continue to happen. The important thing is that we don’t let history repeat itself. We need to remember what happened right here in our town so that we can continue to fight oppression and not let all those people have died in vain. I’ve driven down the same roads that they marched down, and from now on I’m going to use that as a reminder instead of overlooking it. I’m going to stop and think about all the ground that was won for Civil Rights on my way home this afternoon, when I’m driving down Highway 80. The next time I’m in downtown Montgomery and I see the capital, I’ll remember what happened right there on the steps. “We’re gonna get the right to vote, come hell or high water. Come life or death.” Would I be that brave? I like to think so.
I went to the Civil Rights memorial in downtown Montgomery yesterday with my mom and my brother. It made me realize how we take things for granted, like the right to vote. It wasn’t so long ago that women didn’t even have the right to vote. I’m going to start being grateful for the things in my life that other people fought and died for.