Thanks to a carefully-timed national summit for the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network and a University of Alabama field trip, I have spent the last 48 hours figuratively and literally crossing bridges with students from near and far.
It all started Friday afternoon as I addressed the more than 100 students from around the country attending the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network Annual Conference, which was hosted at the University of Alabama.
Dialogue on Bridges
What a great way to engage college students who are learning how to foster conversations that lead to inclusive environments on college campuses all around the country.
On Saturday, we wore t-shirts asking “Are You Crossing Bridges” as we participated in intensive planning and strategy sessions for introducing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, and ability to students in various models with the goal of enacting change.
The students attending the conference had a chance to screen the 1980s PBS documentary “Bridge to Freedom,” which was part of the Eyes on the Prize series.
Traveling to The Bridge
Then, this morning, we showed the film again, but to more than 200 University of Alabama students who were part of a caravan of buses traveling from Tuscaloosa to Selma for the 50th Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee.
We heard speeches from those challenging us to “go beyond the bridge” and to “not stop on the bridge” before literally walking over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the same place where voting rights demonstrators were beaten 50 years ago this weekend.
To see my multicultural crowd of University of Alabama students listening to the rally speeches, which were given at historic Brown Chapel AME Church and beamed via closed-circuit television out to the tens of thousands who gathered at the Bridge was something I will never forget.
Nervous as we were about taking 200 students on a field trip to a small town not used to 80,000 visitors, we were relieved that it all worked out. Thanks be to God, we had perfect weather and wonderful interactions on the bus, during the rally and even on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
This weekend will truly be one of the highlights of my 12 years as a resident in the state of Alabama.