Balancing Excitement and Dread II

So why would a sixty-four-year-old woman choose to go to the American South in 2011 on a bus tour that lasts 9 days and visits four states? This is the explanation of the trip according to Professor McCord.

“Course Overview

Individuals of all ages and cultures will enjoy this course.  Students who attended in 2009 and 2010 have remarked that this course was a life changing experience.  They have also said that it greatly increased their knowledge and understanding of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  Participants in 2010 ranged in age from 14 to 80+.

Tour sites that figure prominently in the history of the Civil Rights movement in the South. On this nine-day tour, you’ll visit historic sites, museums, centers, and tour towns in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This guided tour provides opportunities for learning about the people and events that began and continue the struggle for freedom and equality in the United States of America.

Tour highlights include: Martin Luther King National Museum, Apex Museum, Tupac Museum & Peace Garden, George Washington Carver Museum, Tuskegee Airman Museum, Rosa Park Museum, Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Edmund Pettus Bridge, Jackson State University, Mississippi Delta Land-marks, Blues History Museum, Fannie Lou Hamer Historic Sites, Emmett Til Landmarks, Underground Railroad Safe House.

The course will also includes stops at several Historically Black Colleges however, this is not a ‘College Tour’ and   this course does not include ‘Campus Tours’.”

That’s the outline of the class in four paragraphs, but the trip includes so much more.  My blogs will be long just explaining where we go and what we do.   I knew from the first time I heard of this tour that it was a dream come true for me.  And, again there are levels of excitement

  • I’m going alone, which means I will be able to concentrate on what I am thinking and feeling.  There will be about thirty-nine other folks with me, but I won’t be going with a good friend or my best friend, my husband.
  • I’m going to places to meet people who think of voting as life affirming.
  • I’m a history buff.  Before I was seduced by the Civil Rights Movement, I was very interested in the Civil War and southern history.
  • I will be meeting new people and seeing the places that motivated me in 1965.
  • And, “I have a dream” of using this trip to start a conversation about voting in this country.  See my blog from June 5,2010.  So I’m excited about the possibilities with my new project.

As in 1965 there are problems.

  • Between now and June 3 I must contact newspaper and magazine people in the major cities we visit to set up interview opportunities.  I’ve never done anything like that before!
  • I’m not 18 and the pace of the event-packed trip would make me tired at 18.  I’m adding to that blogging daily, interviews and writing assignments.  I don’t know what those are going to be yet.  We have a very modern bus with movie screens for about every three rows.  Professor McCord intends to fill our bus rides with civil rights documentaries and activities.  There is a textbook and, though I don’t intend to take the class for credit, I want to read about where I am and what happened there.  Sleep?  Write?  Sleep?  Blog?  Sleep?  Museums?  Sleep?  Landmarks?  You get the point!
  • And there may be danger.  In this case, it won’t be man made.  Let me throw out some statistics.

The worst month for tornados in the area we are visiting is May.

“As National Weather Service teams continue Tuesday to survey the damage from last week’s storms, the number of confirmed tornadoes climbed Monday to 23 statewide in Alabama.

Government analysts said Monday there were 362 tornadoes nationwide during last week’s outbreak, including a record-setting 312 in one 24-hour period.

According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, between 8 a.m. Wednesday and the same time Thursday, 340 people were killed in the storms.

That makes April 27, 2011, the deadliest single day for tornadoes since the March 18, 1925, tornado outbreak that left 747 dead in seven states.

In Alabama, the official death toll Monday was 236 people killed in the storms, according to the state Emergency Management Agency. Another 2,219 people were injured. Spokeswoman Yasamie August said the state agency was double-checking fatality reports from its county emergency management directors.

Who says tornadoes will stop at the beginning of June?

And we’re planning to spend two nights in Memphis.

(CNN) — As flood waters gushed Sunday through parts of Tennessee, officials in Memphis warned that the Mississippi River will likely reach its highest level in more than 70 years.

The river is expected to crest at 48 feet — just shy of the 48.7-foot record set in 1937 — shortly after midnight Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Borghoff told CNN Sunday.

By daybreak Sunday, the Mississippi had already reached 47.3 feet.

Local officials have a ‘high level of confidence’ that the prediction is accurate, said Bob Nations, director of preparedness in Shelby County, Tennessee.”

On that note I’m off to begin building an ark.

 

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