Reteaching history: The civil rights and social justice experience


Photo Courtesy of Kennedi Smith

Kennedi Smith, Contributing Writer

The Civil Rights and Social Justice Experience was a trip I will never forget. Its goal was to immerse a diverse group of almost 50 UTSA students in the history of the civil rights movement through an array of monuments, museums and other historical markers.

The trip is open to every student at UTSA. We left San Antonio and headed to Edgard, Louisiana, where we visited the Whitney Plantation. We then made our way to Jackson, Mississippi; Selma, Alabama; and Montgomery, Alabama, and concluded our trip in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Throughout the trip, we were blown away by the history and the inspiration behind the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Edmund Pettis Bridge, Legacy Museum and National Museum for Peace and Justice.

I learned more information about my family history and the unfathomable history of this country. My peers and I were overcome with emotion because of the dark truths this country holds under its soil that are purposely left out of our textbooks.

This trip told the real story of the United States, and it created a safe space for us to be vulnerable and indulge in healthy conversations about the people, events and injustices that we learned about. I took home over 100 years of information and a life-changing experience, facilitated by world changers and faculty members that truly strive to create safe spaces for these truths.

This trip highlighted my ancestor’s lives as their strength and endurance were commemorated. I encourage every single student, no matter their race or background, to attend, grow and immerse themselves in what may be hard to see and understand. This experience will be life-changing for everyone who attends, and it may be the push attendees need to fuel their fire, passion and leadership.