By Emily Youngerman:
Today was really the first day that we moved away from the historical civil rights portion of the trip and onto the more hot-topic issues in America right now. We spent this morning driving from Little Rock to Dallas and while the bus ride was long, I think most of us would agree that we all look forward to the down time.
When we got to Dallas, we headed straight to our meeting with Mr. Andrew Smith, the director of Pro-Life Texas.
As someone who identifies as being pro-choice, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous going into the meeting, but I ultimately loved the experience. Although I didn’t and still don’t agree with most of his points, Andrew was gracious and genuinely far nicer than I was expecting him to be. I think it’s very easy to build up an idea of “the other side” in your head and to forget that they’re people too. Andrew even mentioned at one point the importance of keeping an open mind in addition to knowing the facts when discussing an issue.
Actively participating in the meeting was an important lesson, and I’m excited to keep learning about this issue as well as other controversial topics we’ll be facing.
Next, we went to the Sixth Floor Museum, which tells the story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We got to stand where the bullets that killed the president were allegedly shot from and see the marks on the street indicating where the limo was when he was killed, which was very powerful.
We learned about the conspiracy theories that people still debate today, and we even had time to drive to the spot where Lee Harvey Oswald fatally shot officer J.D. Tippit. Standing in Dealey Plaza––where America was forever changed––was an intense moment for sure, but every day and every new experience like this one is helping me to feel closer and closer to our country’s history.
Perhaps my favorite part of the day, though, was our Friday night Shabbat service at Beth El Binah, an LGBTQ+ Reform synagogue in downtown Dallas. All of the congregants were so open and welcoming, and having the opportunity to connect with such a beautiful community meant a lot to the majority of us here on the journey.
The service was relaxed but still just as meaningful as any service I’ve experienced in my past, and we found ourselves sharing the experiences we’d had earlier in the day with the members of the community. Every person in that room was so full of love and light and laughter, and by the end of the night we all felt so comfortable that we wound up having our own miniature debates about topics we’ll be discussing throughout the rest of the trip.
Overall, today was a fantastic day, and I look forward to more fun and informative opportunities to come!