By Isabella Waldron
This Friday marks the annual Winterim presentations. Here’s a little sneak preview for you: The Mississippi Civil Rights Winterim. I was on this trip my Sophomore year and it was one of my favorite times at OES. Below, I will include some reminiscing from Abe A. and myself (99.9% me, .1% Abe laughing) of our favorite moments:
- Abe’s Practical Joke Gone Awry
Abe somehow convinced alumni Zach S. (‘15) that he was South African, at which point Zach S. took it and ran with it. On the night we were meeting with Hollis Watkins, an extraordinary Civil Rights leader, the joke went wildly awry. Hollis referenced civil rights events in South Africa and as soon as the words left his mouth, Zach S. leaped up from his seat and declared that we had two South Africans in the room. Abe seemed to cower in fear of being caught in his deep lie. Ron Silver (trip-leader extraordinaire — See my ancient article in POES https://portraitsoes.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/an-issue-of-civil-rights/ for an interview with Ron) became very excited and encouraged Abe to talk about his experiences. Abe silently mumbled a few words before someone steered the conversation back on track. Months later, in the comments about Winterim that go to parents, Ron wrote, “Abe was able to draw on his experiences from South Africa to contribute richly to the trip.” Abe lives in utter shame to this day.
- When We Entered a Random Man’s Home for a Movie Viewing
One fine, blustery afternoon we went into a sign-making shop to see the newly made Mississippi Civil Rights trail signs. Somehow (and this is all really a blur) we ended up meeting a man who said he had a friend who had a “private movie theater” in the middle of town. Somehow (and this is even more of a mystery) we ended up actually going to this place at 8pm on a dark, dark night. We were led up a terrifyingly steep set of stairs to what looked like a warehouse. A layer of dust covered everything, including the vintage twizzler collection and mysterious popcorn maker. The man was there for approximately five minutes before leaving us alone in his warehouse. I should also mention at this point that there were virtually zero people in the streets anywhere. We reclined in severed airplane seats and ate ancient Junior Mints to watch a movie about jazz. I am 88% sure even Ron fell asleep. My favorite part of this evening was the portrait the man had of four civil rights leaders and his photo in the front of it all.
- Begging for Vegetables
In pre-trip meetings, Ron told us we would be eating Southern food. What was not mentioned was the fact that we would ONLY be Southern food. Now, I love cornbread, grits, chicken and sweet tea. The first few meals were delicious and euphoric. After a while though, I began to need to be rolled around Mississippi. I was perpetually stuffed. Alumni Natalie B. (‘15) and I began a subtle quest to lure Ron to a place that would serve vegetables— any vegetables. We failed our first three attempts, but once we got Diane H. on our side, we ended up at a place called Ichiban for dinner. Ichiban was an interesting mix of sushi, vegetables, ice cream, mac and cheese, and fried chicken. We were invincible in Ichiban, loading up plate upon plate. We left with (a minute amount of) vegetables and a renewed palette for more Southern food.
The moments above were silly but the trip really was incredible. We met amazing community members and influential civil rights leaders, and were able to visit the places that moments in the Civil Rights movement revolved around. The trip itself was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. My views on the Civil Rights movement, the current state of inequality and discrimination in Mississippi, and also hope were shifted and expanded. In a time where issues surrounding equality and discrimination are prevalent, I recommend you take advantage of this opportunity for an unbelievable, eye-opening experience.