The Movement Starts Now
Maybe it was just a coincidence that a few months after a busload of UTSA students traveled through the South on a civil rights exploration, I also found myself enveloped in history.
I was in Atlanta for a conference. I had a little extra time so a friend and I walked in downtown Atlanta, down streets lined with crumbling brick buildings and graffiti-covered facades, en route to Ebenezer Baptist Church—where Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor. It's a modest brick church, with a blue sign that looks eerily similar to that of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where four girls were killed when a bomb exploded in 1963, and just one stop on the "journey of enlightenment" for the UTSA students.
As I sat on a long, polished wooden pew, King's voice boomed out of speakers that must have been hidden somewhere. For just a moment, it was as if he was still alive, and I was one of his parishioners.
It gave me goose bumps. Then brought me to tears.
It was 1968 when King was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.—another one of the stops for our students on their civil rights journey. In the 13 years he led the modern civil rights movement, King is credited with accomplishing more toward racial equality than had been achieved in the three centuries before. But it's been 44 years since he was killed, and trip organizers said it's important that what King and countless others achieved isn't forgotten or taken for granted.
And it's critical that history doesn't repeat itself.
That's why the students traveled hundreds of miles by bus in the course of one week. That's why they sat for hours in hotel rooms, discussing their thoughts about race and discrimination in today's America. That's why they ended their journey singing freedom songs as they wound their way along San Antonio's East Side streets for the largest MLK march in the country.
The lessons they learned will continue long after the trip ended.
As one student said: "Words cannot describe how I feel, pictures cannot capture the growth, the change or the empowerment that I feel inside. But my actions will be a true testament of how impactful this trip was, and how appreciative I am of those who contributed to it. I will wait no longer; the movement starts now."
The Fall 2011 issue, which honored student veteran Tony Doyle, won five awards for photography, design and periodicals improvement. The previous issue was also recognized for outstanding photography and website design.
On the Background
The official launch of the university's first-ever capital campaign was held on April 12, announcing $94.3 million toward its capital campaign goal of $120 million to support students, faculty and the community. More at WeAreUTSA.com.