Monday, January 21, 2008

Americus the Beautiful

Lots of times people ask "when my next big trip is" thinking I am going to talk with anticipation about a foreign destination. But one of the biggest kicks I get from being a Fair Trade educator is the opportunity to see so much of my own country. This weekend, thanks to an invitation from folks at CRS and Cafe Campesino, I was able to travel to the small southern town of Americus, Georgia to talk Fair Trade and soak up some civil rights history.

Even though I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta, I never made it down to Americus and its Koinonia Partners, a multi-racial intentional community dedicated to pacifism. I knew about Americus, though, because Koinonia was the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity. It seemed very fitting to be hosted by a community whose history and current reality is dedicated to civil rights, economic justice and respect for all.

I also was thrilled to drive through Plains, Georgia, home of Former President Jimmy Carter. Soaking in the view of pecan trees and mile after mile of farmland made me proud to be an American, not an emotion I experience often these days. Even though there are tremendous divisions of race and class still, I couldn't help but feel optimistic that we are a country that nurtured and created a man like Dr. King, the millions whom he rallied, and those who follow him still. I recalled that Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer before he became the most powerful man in the world, and he continues to be a steadfast world leader using American influence and ability to promote democracy and confront crippling health problems.

When I was in elementary school Mr. Carter was running for president and I was chosen to play the role of Jimmy in a class debate, facing Barry Dyer, whom I had a crush on but whom I managed to out-argue in his role as Gerald Ford. At that time, a girl acting as presidential candidate was seen as uppity. Now we may have a person of color or a woman as president come 2009 (but I am still with Edwards)

In addition to feeling pride in what is possible my country, I am humbled by the worries that face us, inspired by the time I spent in Americus, and reminded that I need to do more of my part to live the dream of Dr. King.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, I want to go to Americus now!

    Most of my time spent here in the US for the past 5 years was in college, which can be a really good multi-racial community if one gives it a chance! I find the need to hang out with all types of people, I get frustrated if I only hang out with one type of person.. I don't know if that makes sense.