The air must have been heavy with hate the night two white civil rights activists were shot in the chest and buried in the dirt next to a black student on a Mississippi farm.
It was a time in this country when the winds of change threatened to topple the walls of discrimination in a part of America that was founded upon lashings and separated drinking fountains.
1964 was a long time ago, and since that fateful June evening so much has changed. Yet so much remains the same. Three close friends and I had planned on traveling to Mississippi before the Democratic primary in support of Barack Obama, but as three white, Jewish activists we were confronted with the realities of the past.
In a family and a country too well versed in the prospects of racism and the power of hate, three white idealistic students traveling to the Deep South to support a black man was not a reasonable idea.
As a generation we feel so removed from those days in Montgomery and Greensborough. We didn’t walk with King and we didn’t sit with Rosa Parks. Yet, that taste of dejection, so potent on that night in 1964 still remains at the subconscious of an America ridiculed by its past.
Racism has been internalized to a discomfort in the face of its discussion and presence. We have seen traces on the rooftops of New Orleans, the courtrooms of Jena, and detested its voice in the depths of ourselves.
No, to our America this does not equate to three white students voicing the cause of a black man in a place struggling to rewrite its identity. But what if the math is wrong? What if all of this – the history and this future date with destiny – finally adds up to possibility? It may seem unreasonable and daunting.
Yet the greatest strides in this country were made aloof to the cries of reason to redefine daunting as attainable. What if this is the moment history has been waiting for? What if we are what Martin Luther King Jr. was dreaming of?
Corey Ciorciari is a junior majoring in creative writing, international studies and economics. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.