History is written and recorded–facts memorized, often forgotten, and remembered merely as names, dates, and infamous places. This is the presumption of what education entails: learning through the written word, memorizing, spouting off whatever vague recollections can be conjured up and shared.
At least, this was my presumption until finally I was engaged in the humbling opportunity to live history, to touch it, have dinner with it, sit down in its living room and ask it some questions. When I crossed paths so directly with what I learned in history books, the names and dates soon had a context, a point of reference, an oppressed, distorted portrait painted in my head by the voices of those who lived it and conquered it.
This is what Alabama provided for me—tangible proof of the past that escapes words or isms or fear of the realness of what’s happened where our roots were planted. Instead it turns history into a reality outside of the vacuum of academia.
My personal experience has been invaluable, surreal even: meeting, interviewing, and shooting video of monumental figures out of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. … Our group set out to fulfill the goal of making a video, for instance; however, we all sustained a magnificent individual transformation on the trip, inviting us to reconsider the ideas we had adopted and to open up to a culture with which we might otherwise never have had the opportunity to engage….