By Collis Crews
We left from Augusta, GA at around 8:30 am. and arrived in Atlanta at around 10:30 am. On the way to Atlanta, we had a poetry contest in which my fellow student riders came to the front of the bus to perform some sort of poem, song, or rap. As I was listening to the performances, I was also having a conversation with fellow student rider Anna Nutter. I was telling her about how the exhibits in the International Civil Rights Museum as well as the documentary The Murder of Emmett Till brought tears to my eyes. Seeing the grotesque face of Emmett Till after he was killed was very mind boggling and I asked myself, “In the case that Till’s murderers did have morals, where were they when they were beating and shooting him?” My emotions also spilled out because I was also talking to Anna about my late great-grandfather from Mississippi who, even when he came off as a happy and joyous person that would do anything for his community, I could still see the pain and suffering in his eyes from the oppression he dealt with under Jim Crow. Anna also inspired me to write a poem highlighting the emotions I felt during the ride. I called the poem “Are You Satisfied”, because there are a few people at my school, North Carolina A&T, who feel that I lack emotion and wish that I would gain some. It took me about ten minutes to write and when I recited it on the bus everybody loved it.
When we arrived to Atlanta, we visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King used to speak. I wish we could have spent more time at both places but we had to keep moving. While I was at the Church, I literally could feel Dr King’s spiritual presence and it was something that I wanted to keep feeling.
When we arrived in Anniston, AL, we were welcomed by a great dinner and afterward we went to the Freedom Riders reception in the Calhoun County Public Library located downtown. There we heard Charles Person talk about the emotions he felt coming back to Anniston and how fifty years ago he and his fellow Riders would have expected the complete opposite. When Person was telling his story, the tears were rolling down my face constantly. We discussed our emotions in a conversation when we got to the hotel.
Today I realized that before the trip, it was hard for me to express my emotions. I plan on coming back to A&T a new person who will find it easier to share his emotions, and this ride will do the trick.