Freedom Summer: Day 6

June 19, 2014
Knoxville, Tennessee 
- SKYPE interview with Myrlie Evers Williams
- Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church

FNN Bureau Tech Prep:   Today is Thursday, June 19th, 2014 and our trip will soon be coming to an end. I wake up and head to Ms. Kaufman's hotel room for my Skype interview with Mrs. Myrlie Evers. Once I arrive I'm told that they're having some technical difficulties and they won't be able to Skype me. I'm sad, yet again, until Mrs. Reena Evers-Everett comes up with the wonderful idea to FaceTime. I'm really excited to FaceTime Mrs. Myrlie so I wait and call at the exact time that she tells me to call. She answer the phone and I am awestruck, it really is Myrlie Evers. We talk for a while and I become really emotional because the conversation was so inspirational. We end our conversation. I had a wonderful time talking to Mrs. Evers. I then head down for breakfast and get ready to leave Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. We all get on the bus and head to Knoxville, Tennessee. We arrive at the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church where we receive a warm welcome. We have lunch and converse with the loving people of the church. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Elnora Williams who was a Civil Rights activist in her own right. She grew up in segregated Florida and soon broke down barriers and became the first Black teacher in numerous schools. She also fought against racism and sexism to become Knoxville's first African American woman principal. We leave the church and head on our long journey to Charlottesville, Virginia. While on the bus we stop for food and watch Soundtrack for A Revolution before we arrive at out hotel. This was our shortest day and I enjoyed it.
- Trayona Lawrence

June, 19, 2014. Meeting the members at the Unitarian church was the topping to my cake. After talking to three of the youth members, I told myself I wouldn’t complain about what I have. They can’t afford AP classes so they don’t try to get into them. They don’t get to experience what I do, all because of funds. Yet they are so humble, smart and friendly. In their school, they are segregated mentally. After talking to them, I was so thankful for what I have. I told myself I would take every opportunity and run with it. I started realizing that I’m very fortunate to have the things I do. I’m learning from this trip. The members of the church were so welcoming. They shared their stories with us and welcomed us with open arms. While listening to one of the stories, I began to tear up. She grew up around racist people, yet she didn’t like what was going on around her. She was disowned by her family because they thought she dated a black man. That didn’t stop her from going on with her life. She is raising her kids not to hate or discriminate.This whole trip I’ve been learning and humbling myself. After talking to them, I started to understand why my teachers want us to be driven in our education and take advantage of what we have. I’m so thankful I was able to take this trip. I can’t really explain, but I have this new feeling and understanding of who I am. I used to wish that I was lighter. But after talking to all these people and hearing their stories….. I love my skin color and am proud to be an African-American.
- Reina Tindle

Today is Thursday June 19, 2014. We are in Tennessee. We visited a Unitarian church. “Unitarian” means they accept all people no matter what. The members of the church were so nice. The whole time we we were visiting they preached peace, love, and happiness. 

I really enjoyed being there. That's the first church I ever felt like was truly peaceful. While visiting the church, we also got to hear some of the members stories about their experiences with segregation and civil rights. The story that touched me the most was told by a Caucasian woman who was disowned by her family because they thought she was dating an African-American man. She always knew segregation was wrong even though her parents were racist.
- Briana Thomas

We went to a church in Tennessee, and met Ms. Kaufman’s friend who really gave us a friendly welcome. This church in 2008—just 6 years ago—were victims of a hate crime by a racist man who was out of his mind and did not like diversity at all. It wasn't just blacks. It was blacks, jews, homos—anything but Christianity and whites. He believed, “they were wrong and damned to hell”. The man decided to come in during an family church event, a stage play with children and shoot up the place. He injured 7 kids and killed 4 people—including the pastor who died protecting others in the church. That church fortunately is stronger than ever and has made great progress. They have an awesome youth group who I hope take a lot from their teachers as well as that event that happened. Although not all of them were there to see that, it’s still something to think about and make a change as best you can as a generation. Next, we got on the road to Charlottesville, Virginia, where we are currently staying.
- Aaron Grice

Day 6. Today we woke up in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. We ate breakfast. After that, we instantly got on the road to Knoxville, Tennessee. In Knoxville we went to a Unitarian church. It was interesting because they told us about the shooting that happened in 2008. Two people died and several were injured. A man was telling us how his sister had a minor role in the play that was taking place at the church and how she could've got shot but she was in the back room. Also the shooter was 15-20 feet behind him shooting. I felt like if I was him I wouldn’t know what to do. I would’ve been stuck. Then a lady told us about how she was living in a racist community and that she knew it was wrong from a young age. She told us about how she was fighting it her whole life and how everybody still is today. Black people have to face the notion that there are more Blacks in jail than in college but the reality is there are more blacks in college than in jail. After we left the church we got on the road to head to Charlottesville, Virginia. We arrived at our hotel pretty late so a lot of people were tired and ready to go to sleep. That was our day.
- Rhonea Long

Day 6.  Today we went to a church that had a shooting in it. When we got there, a lady named Ms. Marsha had lunch ready for us. After lunch we all went around the room and shared something about ourselves. We also met a youth group and some people who has experienced racism. This meeting made me reflect on how much I've seen on this trip and how much I've learned. After that we heard some stories from people and their experiences. Later that night we went to the hotel. Hearing what people went through for our rights and to be free is amazing, because after getting beat by police, attacked by dogs and even killed, they never gave up on what they believed was right.   
- Katrina Smith