A look back at the Civil Rights Movement

Today I went to the National Museum of American History for two special exhibits in honor of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr Day, which is Monday.  It was honestly a truly inspiring and beautiful moment being there and witnessing people of every race and creed gathering at the two exhibits to honor his memory, and the memory of all those who fought and struggled during the movement.

The first exhibit I went to was one to honor those at the Woolworth’s counter, in Greensboro, NC, who peacefully sat there to make a point.

The strength and conviction those young boys must have had astounds me.  The lady who was heading the exhibit had four volunteers sit at the counter as the surrounding crowd moved in on them.  This was to demonstrate the hostile environment the boys in 1960 faced.  While the tension and hostile environment was simulated, it was in no way the same. As one volunteer walked away, he shook his head because he did not understand how those young boys sat there peacefully all those years ago.  That is real strength, and because of that, those boys were able to make a difference.  At the end of the first exhibit, the woman heading the exhibit sung a song of the Civil Rights Movement as men and women joined in.

What an incredible moment! It was just beautiful.  I got chills just thinking of what the song symbolized then and what it meant to every individual today singing it.

The second exhibit gave a brief history of MLK Jr and his impact on America.  Throughout the presentation, excerpts from some of MLK’s most prominent speeches, such as “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” were spoken by the presenter and also heard over the loudspeaker. Words cannot describe what I felt at that moment.  To hear his voice.  He spoke with such power and conviction.

“I Have Been to the Mountaintop”

“I Have a Dream”

MLK Jr. is a man that needs no introduction, and his impact on contemporary America goes without saying.

His words inspired millions, his strength gave people courage, his conviction in his beliefs united a race and his death was unexpected, but his impact is never ending.

Thank you MLK Jr. for having the power to speak.  You gave America a great gift, and for that I am truly grateful.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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