The Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip (July 16-24) was an eye-opening experience. I co-led this group, sponsored by Mennonite Mission Network, and we visited landmarks of the US Civil Rights Movement of the 1950-60s to learn why our faith calls us to stand against injustice and with the oppressed.
Four youth from Mosaic Conference and I had the opportunity to go on this trip and it was truly remarkable. On this trip we visited different civil rights locations, from museums to national landmarks. On some of our stops we spoke to people who experienced civil injustice firsthand during the 1950-60s, providing us a firsthand view on how African-Americans were treated.
This opportunity allowed me to see and learn about things and people in a whole new way. The most impactful day for me was when we visited the Lynching Memorial at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL. At the memorial were pillars filled with the names of lynching victims from almost every county in the US. As I read the names, I was so impacted, thinking about what they must have gone through in those moments. There were even stories of how some people were lynched for reasons that today would be considered ridiculous. It was truly eye-opening to learn about all the struggles people went through in the past simply for looking different. I thought I knew about civil rights until I saw and read some of the stories.
Another museum we visited was the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. This is the famous motel where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony in 1968. As we made our way through the museum, we were able to see things King did, but also what other civil rights activists did in the 60s. It was a truly educational experience.
The trip challenged my way of thinking and made me see things from a perspective I thought I understood. I learned more about the injustice that African-Americans went through during this time. As a result of this trip, I am challenged to remember that I have a voice to speak up and defend those who cannot, just like the Bible instructs us to do.
This trip was not only impactful to me but also for the youth who joined me. The value of knowing and understanding history allows us to work to make a difference in today’s society, even if we still have struggles today. Working alongside Mennonite Mission Network for this trip was great, and I hope to partner up and do something like this again in the future. A big thank you to everyone who made this trip happen!