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Posts Tagged ‘ Tariq Meyers ’

Day 10: We Shall Overcome

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

By Tariq Meyers

She cried. Grasping my hand she pulled me down to her level. She was old and slight of build. Her skin was the color of caked Mississippi clay. Her eyes were a hue of teal and gray. Her lips clinched tight forming wrinkles around her mouth as if each line told a different story; each crease, a different narrative; each trench, a time when the old Louisianan spat wisdom.

Tears running down her face, she thanked me. Thanked me for caring—for loving; but why? I had done nothing. I submitted an application, boarded a bus, and began the 2011 Student Freedom Ride. I stopped in 18 different cities, checked in at 10 different hotels, slept in 10 different beds. I saw 10 different moons, 10 different stars, heard 10 different rattles of worn out air conditioners. I witnessed 18 different forms of poverty, and 18 different forms of wealth, experienced 18 forms of welcomes and goodbyes—but this one was different, this one felt different, this one meant something different. This wasn’t just any old city, it was New Orleans. The same New Orleans that met Katrina, the same New Orleans that is burdened with poverty and corrupt police, and the same New Orleans that never saw the arrival of the 1961 Freedom Riders.

She embraced me, held me close. I had finished the sojourn. She waited 50years for that bus to come, 50 years for the Freedom Riders, 50 years—waking each day in hope that justice would soon rise with the sun over the bayou. We stood there connected, our heart beats in sync. I was holding history in my arms. She witnessed sunsets of “colored” signs, hoods that yelled “nigger.” She saw police beat her sisters, and men lynch her brothers. She grew tired of standing and was sick of back door service; done with being spat on and fed up with living with fear. Her name was not “auntie” or “nigra” or “girl,” her name was not “you” or “lady” or “bitch”; she is a human being, a child of God, inferior to no one. But she waited, waited fifty years, because she knew the Freedom Riders would come one day, someday, even in the dark days. She held me close because we had arrived.

We were the manifestation of her hope, the manifestation of her vision. The struggle of the Civil Rights Movement had come to fruition. We were 40 strong – black, white, yellow, tones of red and brown. We were Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Muslim, Hindu and agnostic. We were gay, straight, transgendered and bisexual. We were old and young. We came from the North and the South, from coast to coast. We were rich and poor; came from top universities and community colleges. We were sending a message, a clear message: “We shall overcome.”

She let me go, looked me in the eyes. She gave a smile and said, “it’s your turn now, don’t let nothing turn you around.”

“We shall overcome some day. Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day. We’ll walk hand in hand; we’ll walk hand in hand. We’ll walk hand in hand some day. We shall overcome.”

Day 7: Tariq Meyers

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Day 4: What Hides Behind Museum Walls

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

By Tariq Meyers

Four walls. Four walls composed of sheet rock, plastered with two coats of paint, graced with plexiglass and topped off with fluorescent lighting beneath images of hate; images of suffering; images with no hope. They call this construction an exhibit. Grade school children and adults alike gaze upon disturbing images but find relief upon exit because the dark images are behind them—the tour goes on. It is convenient to isolate history of pain to a room, easy to believe that bigotry is a thing of the past—that the struggle is over. Museums and exhibits mystify history—presenting it in a way where one is led to believe that what is presented is over. So when one encounters a mob lynching, the death of four little girls, the bullet hole in the windshield of Viola Liuzzo, or the handsome hazel-eyed turned eyeless image of the murdered Emmett Till—one’s anxiety fades knowing the suffering is over; that the fear is isolated between images of hate and fluorescent lighting; beneath layers of paint and plexiglass; beneath sheet rock and concrete.

As I connected to the teary eyes of Ernest Rip Patton, I began to realize that our fifty-year sojourn (in the making), our difference in years, no longer mattered. The man who stood before me was 19-year-old Rip Patton, the courageous hero of 1961. Anxious and afraid, confused and connected as I was, the connection (young) Rip and I shared in the museum exhibit revealed the secret that hides behind museum walls. The secret is that history is very much in the present, that history is very much real. In that moment I came to understand that, though the pictures of the abused and the deceased were isolated on the walls, it did not mean the struggle was over; that the pain was gone—rather is very much underway. I stood there with Rip as we gazed upon the face of the beaten Freedom Rider. This may seem typical of museum activity, but understand why this was so significant: I was staring at the face of a beaten Freedom Rider alongside a Freedom Rider. Yes, together we gazed, (young) Rip and I, at the images isolated to plexiglass and fluorescent lights, beneath concrete and drywall—and it is there that I discovered that the mystified “ghosts” of pain and suffering were just images transplanted on paper with ink of different shades to give the illusion of looking aged and old. Yes, it was at that moment I realized that the secret that hides behind museum walls is a living history, that can’t be isolated to words on a page, ink on a paper. The (young) Rip and I will forever be connected.

Newseum Event

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Day 2: Tariq Meyers

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Ithaca College Media Relations

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Ithaca College Student Takes Part in Retracing of Historic Civil Rights Route
By David Maley

ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College freshman Tariq Meyers will be one of 40 college students taking part in a reenactment of the famous Freedom Rides in conjunction with a PBS film commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic episode in the Civil Rights Movement. Meyers will travel by bus for 10 days from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans, as part of an effort to launch a national conversation about the role of civic engagement in today’s democracy. Read more…

Meet Tariq Meyers

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Meet the Riders!

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Student Rider: Tariq Meyers

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Ithaca College
Ithaca, New York
Hometown: Dorchester, Massachusetts

Watch the full episode. See more Freedom Riders.