Standing on Sacred Ground
By Sejal Sekhar '23
Being able to go on the ninth-grade class trip was an experience I will never forget. I was on the Birmingham bus and after what was a very eventful bus ride, we arrived at our first stop, 16th Street Baptist Church. This was a place I had read and learned about but being able to stand on the same ground that caused a shift in history rendered me speechless. So much history had been stored in this building and the experience set the mood for the whole trip. The next place that had a lot of impact on me was the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Walking through this museum was like walking through a timeline of freedom. The journey starts with the hope for freedom and acceptance, but when you go to the end it does not finish because freedom may have been earned, but acceptance is a never-ending battle. Slave Haven was my second stop in Memphis, and it showed me not only the struggle but the hope the black community had. Slave Haven was not only a house but a stop on the underground railroad. This was a place slaves came on their way to freedom. Another place that we went was the National Civil Rights Institute. When we first walked into the museum, we passed the Lorraine Motel. The Lorraine Motel was the last place Martin Luther King Jr. stood. I stopped in front of the balcony and I felt like I was on sacred ground. A man that has a day dedicated to him stood where I am standing now. I also learned that Rosa Parks did not give up her seat because she was tired from work, she was tired of giving in. She had Emmett Till on her mind which caused her to keep that seat on the bus. Emmett Till was a fourteen-year-old boy who was kidnapped and beaten to the point where the only recognizable thing about him was the ring on his finger. His mom held an open casket funeral to show the world what racism looked like. I did not know that the seven stops we made on this trip could impact me so much. Seeing what struggle came before me and how the journey for freedom and acceptance is not over yet made me feel like I had an experience with reality rather than just a textbook.