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Posts Tagged ‘ Marshall Houston ’

Day 9: The Spirit of Creative Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

By Marshall Houston

I don’t have an “issue.” I don’t have any specific cause that dominates my thinking. I’ve struggled during this experience to be an “activist” because I’m not one—or at least not an “Activist” with a capital “A.”

I’ll probably never be an expert on any topic, but I believe that I can play a role—a unique role—in developing a deep commitment to human dignity and the empowerment of all people in society.

At best, I am a connector and sharer of ideas, knowledge, and strategies; at worst, I’m someone who loves people and good stories. I’ve embraced this role during my time as an undergraduate, and it has helped me on this ride.

Now that I’ve been on the bus for nearly ten days, I realize more than ever that it will take a comprehensive and unified effort of individuals working for the same general cause—the dignity and rights of all people—to move closer to the Beloved Community.

I understand that the path to the Beloved Community is a journey similar to a climber struggling up a mountain, step by step, with a fog clouding the line of sight up to the mountaintop. The climber can’t see the destination but, by looking back, sees that the view has never been better or as high.

All we can do is work together to continue taking forward step after forward step, no matter how small or difficult.

Though I lack an “issue,” three principles frame the way in which I look at the world, and by extension, the steps that I take.

1.    I believe collaboration is innovation.

Innovation in this sense focuses on ideas coming from the collaborative efforts of a cognitively diverse group. By creating a space for free discourse that is rooted in dignity and equality, unexpected ideas emerge and lead to innovation.

2.    I believe in the power of the human possible.

This means that each and every person has the ability to positively and uniquely contribute in society, and once individuals are enabled and ennobled to discover and utilize these talents, the possibilities are endless.

3.    I believe we need community problem-solving in a spirit of creative entrepreneurship.

Community problem-solving stresses the impact that a group of individuals can have on society using resourcefulness, perseverance, and dedication. Creativity is not confined to the arts, and entrepreneurship is more than just for-profit businesses. Combined together in this spirit, people will approach problems with a belief that they can create something—anything—that improves society.

These three principles are my “issues” in life, and I am confident that the Beloved Community will emerge from a commitment to these ideals.


Freedom Riders Poster Series

Monday, May 16th, 2011

I am thankful for Jake Andrews, a graphic design student, artist, and friend at The University of Alabama, for creating this poster series about the 2011 Student Freedom Ride.

Jake and I have collaborated on a variety of projects over the past four years, so when I decided to start a blog for the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, he was the obvious choice to create a header. We briefly talked about the purpose of the blog, and then he went to work.

When I saw his work a few days later, my jaw dropped. He had managed to capture the spirit of the trip through design. He offered to design other pieces for the trip, so I took him up on it.

This series is his creation. His own words describe the power of the series:

I used the key words that you wanted and highlighted the routes that the Freedom Riders took. I used a map of all the routes that Freedom Riders took during the period… not the one specific to the first route though.

It’s kind of hard to explain the concept that I came up with in words. It’s something you’ll just have to see. The individual posters might be a little confusing at first, but when you put them all together they complete the image of the routes of the Freedom Riders in the 60s.

I think the key to the series is not focusing on individual posters as much as how the series is completed once all the posters are put together.

Our hope is that you will share these with your friends & family. Please use this series to connect others with the spirit of the Freedom Riders from 1961 to 2011!

Marshall Houston


Day 6: Nonviolence is Creative

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

By Marshall Houston


Day 4: New Blood

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

By Marshall Houston

Joan Mulholland and Bob Singleton have freed me over the past five days.

After listening to Joan speak for 20 of the most compelling minutes of my life on the bus ride to Greensboro, North Carolina, I caught her trailing at the back of the pack in the International Civil Rights Museum. During those 20 minutes on the bus, Joan became my hero and mentor, but she didn’t know it when I caught her and started talking in the museum.

We paused for an extra 45 seconds at the Mississippi books exhibit and immediately connected over our love for books. I am an avid collector of books on nearly every subject, and I normally can’t leave a bookstore empty handed. As Joan started discussing her books from the movement, a spark flickered in her eyes, and she said that her favorite books are the hidden treasures—ones you don’t go to the bookstore to find—and that when you find them, you seize the moment! I mumbled something in agreement, too overwhelmed with joy that my hero embraces these serendipitous moments just as much as I do. “Not everyone understands this. Soulmates,” she exclaims.

Speechless. I wrote her quote in my notebook as fast as possible; how else could I react to Joan Mulholland telling me that we were soulmates?

As we came to find out over lunch, Joan and I share more than our love of chance encounters with books; we share a Huguenot heritage by way of Charleston. I’m stunned again! This can’t be happening.

Joan marched me up to the front of the crowded banquet hall and, with a piercing shrill, quieted the room to tell everyone that we are family. FAMILY. With Joan Mulholland……

As a white male from Birmingham with a family history as deeply tied to Alabama as the thick, sticky humidity, I have not had guidance—philosophical guidance—on how to feel when I see gruesome pictures of lynchings where people with faces like mine beam with pride. Joan gave me this guidance.

Through her actions over 50 years ago, Joan, as my newly reconnected relative, gave me the confidence to escape any baggage or regret that I was holding onto, thinking that holding onto some notion of shame in Alabama made me like the Freedom Riders. This mindset of regret and shame is a sickness, and I can’t help but laugh at the mindset that I once held so dear.

After only five days on the ride, I have made a startling revelation; I have a white mother from Virginia in Joan Mulholland and a black father from Los Angeles in Bob Singleton that link me with hundreds, if not thousands, of brothers and sisters of every race and creed and heritage in the family of deep love! Together we celebrate the individuality of each relative’s heritage, and I have no more shame or regret.

As they say, blood is thicker than water, and I have new blood.


Day 2: Diana Mahoney

Monday, May 9th, 2011


Day 2: Sarah Cheshire

Monday, May 9th, 2011


Day 2: Identity, Beliefs, and Actions

Monday, May 9th, 2011

By Marshall Houston


UA News

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

UA Student Selected to Board the Bus for Freedom Ride Commemoration
by Richard LeComte

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Marshall Houston, a University of Alabama senior majoring in economics and English, will be one of 40 college students from across the country participating in the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, a learning opportunity for college students in conjunction with the broadcast of the upcoming PBS “American Experience” film “Freedom Riders” and the 50th anniversary of the May 1961 Freedom Rides. Read more…


Meet the Riders!

Thursday, April 21st, 2011


The Crimson White

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Student Selected to Recreate Freedom Ride
by Allie Hulcher

Fifty years ago in May, the Freedom Riders rode into the segregated South to fight for equal rights. University student Marshall Houston will be following in these courageous footsteps as he takes a bus route from D.C. to New Orleans. Read more…


Student Rider: Marshall Houston

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL
Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Watch the full episode. See more Freedom Riders.