Home » Features » The Good Trouble Working Group Takes a Trip to Montgomery

The Good Trouble Working Group Takes a Trip to Montgomery

Posted on March 22, 2023, by Loretto Community

“As I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, retracing the movement of the marchers who were demonstrating for the right to vote in 1965, I thought of how, as a white person, I’ve never had to think twice about being blocked from places or processes over the years. The marchers in 1965 Alabama were protesting the fact that Black people were refused access to the vote with all kinds of tests that were actually a ruse to prevent them from voting. Standing on that bridge 58 years later, I was humbled by the courage, heart and non-violent approach that the black people of Selma demonstrated in response to the hatred and violence of the local and state police, as well as white residents. The times, the danger — this made the marcher’s unrelentingly peaceful response so remarkable — they risked their lives for the right to vote. So many of their number had already been killed and threatened by the corrupt state and local police and white vigilantism, so this nonviolent protest seemed to be a particular act of grace and hope.” 

Paulette Peterson
Good Trouble Working Group! (Pat Geir not pictured)

From Feb. 14-18, Loretto Link’s Good Trouble Working Group sponsored a study trip to Montgomery, Ala. On the first day they visited Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School, formerly St. Mary’s of Loretto.

Photo of a plaque dedicated to Sister Martha Belke, the last Sister of Loretto to teach at Montgomery Catholic High School. Photo by Pat Delgado.Photo by Pat Delgado.

“Our time in Montgomery was only 3 days but the impressions for each of us went deep and will be lasting. As I walked, with others, across the Edmund Pettus (a KKK leader) Bridge I felt a visceral stirring inside — I imagined it was an energy that remains there from a combination of bravery and cruelty that occurred on that day in 1965.”  

Martha Crawley
Johanna Brian (in turquoise) and Carolyn Jaramillo ahead of her. Photo by Paulette Peterson.

In the afternoon of the first day the group drove from Montgomery to Selma to walk the Edmund Pettus bridge. During their time there, they held a memorial service at the Civil Rights Memorial Park in front of a John Lewis monument.

Video courtesy of Sally Dunne.

Carolyn Jaramillo reflects, “On the first evening we connected with Mary Boone, activist and widow of Rev. Richard Boone who led the Montgomery contingent of the Selma/Montgomery March. Mary organized a very special evening for us at Martha’s Place in a beautifully decorated private dining room. She arranged for several of her friends including their revered elder, Elder Janie James, to come welcome and join us. We were treated to a delicious dinner, and then the owner Martha Hawkins shared her amazing story. We were glad to have the opportunity to buy Martha’s book, “Finding Martha’s Place.”” 

At Martha’s Place | Buffet and Catering in Montgomery w/Mary Boone as host. Photo by Paulette Peterson

On the second day, the group visited the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial of Peace and Justice, which were profound experiences for everybody. Sister Johanna Brian recalls, “At the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, I was moved beyond words at the spectacle of endless rows of hanging slabs listing places and names of lynching victims. I sat for a long time staring at the wall of moving water and the plaque which honored the thousands whose names are forgotten. There was a crumb of peace in the sight of what looked like flowing tears to which I added my own.”

From left, Paulette Peterson, Martha Crawley and Carolyn Jaramillo in front of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
Photo by Sally Dunne

“For me the time in Montgomery was a time of deep reflection. I think I was taken by the fundamental base of the national economy that was built on slavery. The walk through the depiction of lynching only brought to mind the entrenched mindset of white supremacy. I encourage others to make a trip to Montgomery.” 

Maria Visse
Martha Crawley and Johanna Brian sit in contemplation at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

The third day was packed with activities: visits to the Rosa Parks Museum, the Dexter Ave. Baptist Church, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama State University (ASU) for a presentation on Black history.

Photo from the Rosa Parks Museum from Pat Delgado.

Carolyn Jaramillo shares that on the final day of the trip “Our host, Mary Boone, found the perfect venue to host Foster Dickson, to share remarks on “How to Participate in the Civil Rights Movement Today.” Many arranged with Shirley Baxter, Director of the Interpretive Center on the campus of Alabama State University, for us to see exhibits and photos honoring the contributions of ASU students, Rev. Richard Boone and others to the Civil Rights Movement. After Professor Dickson concluded his talk, we participated in a very lively discussion. The evening concluded our short visit to Montgomery and with us realizing ‘The march continues … ‘”

Good Trouble Working Group members.

“Several days after returning from Montgomery, I watched the documentary “The Descendants” – about the last ship that carried enslaved people to the U.S whose remnants were found along the Mobile River in 2019. Toward the end of the film an older black man stands in front of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. We had just been there days before. The man gazes at those entering the museum and muses: ‘Sometimes you ask yourself — people come and they see, but what do they do, the real test a lot of times is not in coming, it’s what you do when you leave, a lot of people say I’ve been there, the real question is what did you do after you left … most of the people who come here I am sure have been blessed beyond imagination, this becomes a blip in their lives, unfortunately just a few seconds, but they’re not going to do anything with it, they’re not going to do anything with it ….’ I pray: let that not be me, let that not be us.” 

Pat Geier

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