Today we started our Sunday by attending First Street United Methodist Church, the local church here. It is a historically black church that was voluntarily built by slaves. As we entered the church, we could feel the joy and happiness that locals have been fostering there since the 18th century. The congregation greeted us with open arms and smiles and reminded us that they were familiar with Hamline University and that they appreciate our volunteer service.
After church we had the pleasure of being able to take a city tour with Konè, a passionate man who is extremely knowledgable about the matters here. During this time, we were brought up to speed on the many issues that plague the city of New Orleans. Our hearts were touched while reading about New Orleans, but seeing every sight here was just that much more impactful. Even though the residents of New Orleans are facing racial issues, gentrification, and a onslaught economic injustices, people have not given up hope, and it is truly inspiring.
During our reflection time, the most impactful moment or location was learning about the "chained" cross at St. Augusta Church; we believed this because there was over 100,000 unnamed slaves that were wrongly buried throughout all of New Orleans. Another important topic we discussed was the poetry event we attended run by Hamline Alumni, Tony Wilson. We all believed that the event really put racial issues into perspective; there was extremely powerful phrases said that really showed the pain and suffering that everyday citizens, not only in New Orleans but the entire country, face and have to find ways to overcome all this adversity. Overall, our reflection time today was really deep and we all were able to share our ideas, and surprisingly we all had around the same thoughts on certain issues and topics.
Our first full day in New Orleans was full of surprises we weren't all that ready for; we saw the REAL New Orleans and all the problems that were suppose to be fixed but never seemed to happen. We believe that seeing what's really going on here will give us that much more motivation for us during the week for work and to tell people back in Minnesota about what's really going on and to not trust the media. If we can spread the word of the lies being told about this once beautiful city, we believe that it could lead to some type of spark to get more action to make this a beautiful city again.
-Brenden + Jordan