I love to travel. I love a good road trip. There’s something about being able to go visit places (and also learn something), meet up with friends (and make new friends) and eat all the junk/road trip snacks you can handle.
Right now I am in Memphis, Tennessee. I think this is a very appropriate time to be here given that the National Civil Rights Museum is hosting MLK 50, a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights leader’s death.
I’ve been participating in various events that align with the activities of MLK 50. Today, there was the Southern Regional Composition Conference. As a first time attendee, I was quite impressed that the conference was free, and I was able to network and make connections with some folks who also teach in a two-year college setting like me. The theme of the conference is Rights and Responsibilities.
Last night I saw Teju Cole, a photography critic for The New York Times speak at the Brooks Museum on “Seeing Civil Rights” and the photography surrounding the Civil Rights movement. If you didn’t know, Cole is also an author, photographer, and art historian. It was simply amazing to see some of the work he presented and hear him speak.
Today, as part of the SRCC, Daniel J. Watts, Broadway performer, spoken word poet, instructor, actor, and activist spoke and performed (he did some amazing tap dancing) for us over lunch. He spoke with such passion and zeal, and he is just an amazing human being. We were able to speak with him for a few minutes, and he graciously posed for some pictures too.
As we ended the conference on the beautiful campus of the University of Memphis, Jacqueline Jones Royster, author (some of her work is published by SIU Press!), and dean of Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech University, gave the keynote address on “Writing in a Time of Violence.”
The past few days have been good to me. It has been fun to travel, it has been an honor to be in the same room with so many wonderful scholars, but I have also learned so much. My heart and mind are so full.
So, how does travel work when Sam and Memphis (and our children) are home, and they don’t come?
Yep. I said it.
Sam has been busy working on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration at the VA. Today, a celebration took place (he baked some cakes for the event), honoring those who have served in the Vietnam era. A special day, a day of welcoming home and giving thanks to these men and women who served our country during this time.
It might seem odd for a caregiver to take off on a trip and leave behind some important people, but rest assured, they are well. They’ve been busy, and we all miss one another, but this also shows the independence that all of them share in their own ways.
Sam has been helping take care of my car (we switched vehicles for this trip), and I am SO appreciative of the oil change, new tires, and wash…but I’d rather not drive his truck through a busy city and park it in a five-story parking garage with small, tight spaces.
Overall, the trip has been a success. Tomorrow I get to see the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel. If you haven’t read much about the timeline of events leading up to MLK’s death, I encourage you to revisit some history and understand the sanitation workers death, the strike, why Dr. King marched in Memphis, and his sermon (which would be his final), “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
Travel gives you some amazing opportunities. I’m so thankful for this conference, the people who I’ve been able to spend time and connect with, and my incredibly supportive family.