I was a volunteer lead on one of the GO Alabama trips last November. Because I had served on other GO trips, I didn’t expect to be as wrecked and challenged as I was. Oh my gosh, I was wrong.
Despite going through UNDIVIDED three times, I was still completely blown away by what I saw and learned and experienced on this trip. I was so blown away, in fact, that when I tried to create a recap of the trip to share with everyone who was kind enough to financially support and pray for me, I couldn’t finish it. There was no way to put it into words the impact it had on me.
I have been to South Africa and India, so I’ve learned about injustice in other places and seen so many amazing flips of the script where God is at work. But this experience taught me that there is so much we don’t know about our history, so much bondage on every level in our country, and that the racial inequities won’t go away anytime soon without some serious work.
Some learning highlights for me were the hope-inspiring Rosa Parks Museum and the gut-wrenching multi-sensory experience of the Legacy Museum and memorials to lynching victims created by the Equal Justice Initiative. A personal highlight was when we were serving at a block party with our partner Flatline Church in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Montgomery. I got to meet Edna, who came to get food for her six kids at home. We struck up a conversation. She allowed me to pray with her, and she even came back later to listen to music and talk more. She showed me photos of her family and I was able to connect her to other women from the church. It was powerful to share that experience with her. Perhaps us being there to invite her and her neighbors was the catalyst that brought her to church.
The most life-changing experience, though, happened when I sat next to another woman on our trip at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. I was crying as Lynda Blackmon Lowery (the youngest survivor of Bloody Sunday) shared her story. Afterwards, I just couldn’t get out of my chair. Juanita and I started talking. I told her I didn’t know what to do next, and how sorry I was for the experiences that she and people who look like her have everyday. She was so gracious and asked if I would like to read and discuss a book together when we got home. I said absolutely, and I invited a bunch of women who look like me to be part of it.
In January, 20 of us started meeting weekly to discuss How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi. Our time has been a blessing and has opened my eyes to so much more. We’re now diving into internal work through The Racial Healing Handbook by Annaliese Singh.
I’ve committed to unlearning false narratives, learning the truth, and reckoning with and lamenting our past in order to help change our future. I’m researching policies that are unjust and taking a stand. I’m praying that the stories and steps of these 20 women will also ripple through their families, friends and communities so more of us will help break down barriers and stand up for racial justice and equity. And, I hope you are compelled to GO to Alabama to learn what we didn’t hear in school and explore how to bring about racial healing where you live.
We don’t know what we don’t know, but once we know, we can’t not do something about injustice. - Camille P.