San Jose State University students take back-to-the-future trip to inauguration





Think of it as a back-to-the-future road trip. To attend the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president, a group of San Jose students piled into a van and revisited the landmarks of the past — the Southern bridges, churches and lunch counters that were the backdrop of the country's civil rights struggle.

The journey began in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr - whose birthday is observed the day before Barack Obama is sworn in - was assassinated. It continued east, stopping at the Tallahatchie River, where Emmett Till was killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman; at a Birmingham church where someone set a bomb, killing four little girls; to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where protesters marching east were met by authorities wielding billy clubs and tear gas in an infamous confrontation that would become known as "Bloody Sunday."

Along their journey, the students talked with the civil rights leaders of the past and present. And as they traveled closer and closer to Washington D.C., where Obama will be sworn in Tuesday, they reflected on how far America has come to reach this new moment in history.


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