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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Professor Van Der Meer Leads ‘From Boston, MA To Selma, AL’ Group

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A large crowd crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of the “Bloody Sunday” march 50 years before. 

On “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. and hundreds of protesters crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the quest for voting rights. Fifty years later, Anthony Van Der Meer, Africana studies professor, and Kevin Peterson of the New Democracy Coalition took a group of about 50 people that included University of Massachusetts Boston students down to Selma, Alabama in a pilgrimage of 25 hours by bus. 
Many students who participated in this pilgrimage described their experiences as inspirational, educational, and emotional. “Just being able to see how difficult it was for Dr. King Martin was inspiring to me because I saw that each and every time the movement had a setback they pushed through it,” said Sarrana Jeanty. “It showed me how powerful the human family could be when they work together.” Jeanty is a student in Professor Van Deer Meer’s Malcolm and Martin class.
For some students, the 25-hour bus ride was an opportunity to create bonds, and go to relive history. “We met people who we probably wouldn’t have met, we had experiences that probably wouldn’t have happened,” said sociology major Askia Hanson. Hanson is also a student in Professor Van Der Meer’s Martin and Malcolm class.
On this ride, everyone bonded and discussed their excitement as well as their fears and expectations of Selma. On the bus ride, the 2014 movie “Selma” and the “Malcolm X” film were shown and discussed. “We learned, grew, bonded, laughed, suffered, and accomplished our goals together [reaching Selma and crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge],” reflected Hanson.
The midnights following March 6-8, Professor Van Der Meer led a series of spirited conversations in which he challenged students to reflect on the current situation of black people in America, the justice system, the wealth inequalities, the importance of unity in the black communities, and so forth. “The most important thing now is where do we go from there?” he concluded in his March 8 spiritual conversation.
The evening of March 9 was marked by a series of intense and emotional testimonies of students exteriorizing their experiences and what they intended to do to carry on with the struggle for social and economic equality. “This is the moment for action,” said Vonds Dubussion.
Manuel Monteiro, Africana studies major, echoed Dubussion to say that this should be a decisive moment for youth activism in Boston. The journey concluded with students brainstorming on starting an organization to bring communities together to rebuild and fight for our local Boston communities.