Community celebrates freedom by marching

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University and Fort Worth community members sang freedom songs and marched Sunday to raise awareness of current issues.

The Civil Rights Bus Tour that took place earlier this semester inspired senior accounting major Walter Sanders to organize “The Soundtrack of a Nation.” The reenactment brought up racial issues that are not discussed enough, Sanders said. 

“We only know the big people like [Martin Luther King Jr.] and Rosa Parks, but they wouldn’t be where they are without the little people,” Sanders said.

“So just bringing more attention to this movement because that movement in and of itself helped shape so much of what we are as a nation now, and I think it’s important to discuss it.”

The civil rights movement started in 1954 following the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which refuted the long-standing doctrine of “separate but equal,” according to Civil rights marches occurred often over the next 15 years.

Max Krochmal, assistant professor of history, said the reenactment showed that civil rights era activists demanded inclusion in America through unconventional ways. Marches were the centerpiece of the movement.

“The Soundtrack of a Nation” started at Robert Carr Chapel with participants learning civil rights era freedom songs, Sanders said. Then, everyone wrote a modern-day freedom song.

Participants wrote freedom songs about issues that affected them, which made the songs personal and created a bigger impact, Sanders said.

In the chapel, participants, also, learned about preparation required for marches. Fort Worth resident Shamekka Lewis said it was fun learning the strategies. 

For example, marchers practiced getting spit on or attacked, Lewis said. The activity showed the strength of the people in the movement.

After singing and preparing in the chapel, participants marched around campus. They went down Bellaire Drive North to Stadium Drive, ending at the Brown-Lupton University Union.

Lewis said she enjoyed the march because she gained a new perspective on the civil rights activists. She was out of breath after the march and said it was a small taste of the real event.

“But to think about that people did this for much longer in the heat and all this stuff, I just have much more of an appreciation for them,” she said.

Like other participants, Lewis marched for a current issue. She picked immigration rights and reform because the underlying causes were similar to the causes of the civil rights movement, she said.

Junior political science major Saria Hawkins said she liked the march because it was the epitome of the event. She walked for sickle cell anemia awareness, women’s economic empowerment and the LGBT community.

Hawkins, like Sanders, had traveled on the bus tour. Participating in “The Soundtrack of a Nation” reinforced everything she learned on the trip, and she was glad to see other people come out and participate, she said. 

“I feel that what we’re doing today will set up the role for future generations to continue to voice their problems and show that things need to be changed,” she said.

Hawkins said she would continue to advocate for underrepresented populations and act for change on a daily basis.

Krochmal said the civil rights movement failed to complete all of its goals. Although the movement transformed America, it did not stop racial injustice or achieve the activists’ ideal economic equality.

“What I think the activists wanted to tell our students on the trip, and what I think our students wanted to then reflect through the march, was that there still remains a lot of work to be done,” Krochmal said.

Sanders said he was disappointed that only 40 people participated. He had wanted it to be a campus-wide event so that it would have the largest impact possible.

Even with the low attendance, the event was a success because people had fun and learned something new, Sanders said.

The event did not happen during Black History Month in February because Sanders ran out of time to organize it. However, there could be more attention brought to the movement in the future, he said.

February is often the only time people acknowledge specific things about the movement, Sanders said. He said there should be an annual or biannual event, like the march, to raise awareness.

“It’s like ‘Oh, it was in the past and we’re here now,’ so we really don’t talk about it except for in February,” he said. “I know this is March, but I feel like we need to bring more attention to February as long as it’s still Black History Month.”