Retracing the Route of Freedom: Notre Dame group rides a bus to civil rights landmarks across the South

Author: Brendan O'Shaughnessy

Goose pimples broke out on a student’s skin in the pitch-black cellar of a Tennessee stop on the Underground Railroad. A visceral sadness seeped into a faculty member in the Memphis hotel room where Martin Luther King was shot on the balcony. The physical presence of the souls of black leaders overwhelmed the group’s bus driver in a Selma church.

These are sacred places, where people commune with those who paid the price for freedom.

One thing that has become clear during the time of the coronavirus is the difference between virtual learning from books and screens versus the raw, bone-deep feelings of knowledge that can only come through first-hand experience.

Thirty-one Notre Dame students and 13 faculty, staff and leadership fellows plunged into the latter on a bus journey of the history of the civil rights movement across the southern U.S. just before the pandemic shut off campus life and travel in mid-March.

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Originally published by Brendan O’Shaughnessy at news.nd.edu on May 04, 2020.