Doctoral students from the College of Education and Human Development, Georgia State University in Atlanta, visited Troy on June 25, as part of a guided tour of civil rights sites in Alabama. Sites included the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, and the Pike County Home Site of John R. Lewis, a civil rights activist and leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia 5th Congressional District from 1987 until his death in 2020.
The visit was led by Dr Gertrude Tinker Sachs, Chair of the Department of Middle and Secondary Education, College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University.
Before their stop in Troy, the tour group visited the Legacy Museum which presents the history of slavery and racism in America and followed the Troy tour with a visit to Selma and the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which is now a national historic monument.
Shelia Jackson, director of tourism for the town of Troy, said the comments from members of the tour group were very positive.
“They appreciated that the city of Troy recognized and recognized the important role Congressman John Lewis played in the civil rights movement,” Jackson said. “They enjoyed seeing where he grew up, meeting members of his family and hearing them speak so lovingly about their brother who grew up in the countryside of Alabama and played such an important role in the national movement. civil rights.
Jessica Hormann, PhD student, Language and Literacy Education, said that after meeting John Lewis’ family, it’s no wonder his legacy is one of the greatest potentials for kindness and justice in mankind.
“John Lewis’s brother and sister welcomed strangers from Georgia State University to the sister’s house,” Hormann said. “Every living thing, from cattle to chickens to dragonflies, has been imbued with the love they emanate. And that, as they said, came from their parents. “It’s just the way we were brought up. “
Hormann said when Lewis asked in his latest book, “Why do we have to be so mean? his question came from a place of innocence.
“John Lewis couldn’t see why we couldn’t all treat each other like his family treated me that day, with open arms and with a loving heart,” she said.
Mawusk Kamabui Pierre, doctoral student, Middle and Secondary Education Department, said he learned that during legal segregation Lewis was refused a library card in Troy and entry to the University of Troy because ‘he was black. But, today there is a sign about John Lewis outside the Troy Public Library and a building named in his honor stands on the main campus of Troy University.
“It means a lot to me because my mom is a professional storyteller and worked for the public library in our hometown,” Pierre said. “As an adult, I got a library card in every city and state I lived in. Standing in front of John Lewis’ sign in the public library grounds where he was denied access was devastating and unbelievable. My appreciation for the freedoms that he and so many others fought for and won is greatly appreciated. I am the new generation of activists who are fighting to maintain Lewis’s victories and gain many more that he did not see in his lifetime.