Unconventional learning makes life long impact

Izzy Kanne

When it comes to race, there is a difference between learning and understanding. Most people know only what they have learned in school about the history of race in the United States. A trip through the south allowed me to understand this history and the impact it still has on our society.

Over spring break I had the amazing opportunity to partake in the Civil Rights Research Experience, a five-day trip where I visited various cities that played key roles in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Along with students from other schools in Minnesota, we went deeper into what really happened and how those events shaped our modern society.

I knew going into this experience that it was not just a fun trip with friends. What I didn’t know was how this trip would impact how I see day-to-day life and my everyday interactions.

First we flew to Memphis, Tennessee and took a tour of the Lorraine Motel, which has been turned into a museum and memorial site for Martin Luther King Jr., being that it was the location of his assassination. Seeing that even in museums there’s bias and false information showed me how important it is to do your own research and that it’s sometimes necessary to educate yourself if systems fail you. For example, the museum included an exhibit on Rosa Parks that included false information about her and the bus boycotts that followed her arrest on a public bus.

In Alabama, I met a woman named Joanne Bland, who marched on Bloody Sunday. Ms. Bland was extremely honest and did not hold back when it came to history that can be hard to hear. She rode with us on our bus and told us stories about her hometown of Selma. When we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, we thought about those stories and everyone else who crossed that bridge in hopes of change.

My experience on this trip was unlike any other that I’ve had. I grew as an individual, as a student and as a friend to my peers. The things I learned on this trip exceeded any history class I’ve taken, and I wish there could be an opportunity like this for everyone.