By Francisco Diaz
As this journey comes to a close, I reflect on the last ten days on the road. I have learned much from the people I have met, not only from the Freedom Riders and other civil rights veterans, but the other students on the bus and the myriad viewpoints and causes we all keep close to our hearts.
Much of our trip has been spent mulling over how different our struggle is compared to back in the ‘60s. The Klan has traded in robes for suits, and night riding for aggressive lobbying. The challenges and adversaries we face are more superfluous, ambiguous, and globalized, they are not as obvious and the challenge seems daunting. Fortunately, the approaches people are taking to take on these problems are diverse, even if they sometimes seem disparate.
On this bus we have people passionate about education inequality, environmental justice, immigrant rights (or as I call it, the right to migrate and the right to stay home), the prison system and so on. Some of us are amazing orators, some can sing, some write, some make films. But we all have passion. We all look to tackle the world’s problems in a different way.
The level of discourse and debate on this bus is of the highest level I have experienced anywhere to date. It gets to the point that someone like myself, who has always considered himself a fierce intellectual, has gotten almost weary of talking politics! From the days of conversation, I can only think of one phrase to bring it together: “Many roads, one journey.”
We all have a place in the world, a role to play in the “Grand Act” that is the human experience. Shakespeare once said, “all the world’s a stage, the men and women are merely players.” We all have a crucial role to play in the upcoming act. I can see some people on this bus holding political office. Some might go into law, or become great educators, or incredible labor organizers. Some will undoubtedly reach high accolades or widespread recognition. But as we have learned on this trip, the struggle for freedom has countless nameless, unsung heroes. For each Martin there is a James Farmer or Bayard Rustin. For each Rosa Parks, an Irene Morgan. No matter how, we will all contribute an essential part of ourselves to the ongoing struggle for the Beloved Community.