As one of the few living civil rights leaders, Jesse Jackson provided a link to an occasion most of the people in the crowd, including myself, had previously only been able to engage with through pages in American history books and tidy plaques affixed to seemingly ancient relics.
The struggle to end apartheid in South Africa suddenly became as real and urgent to me as the struggle to end Jim Crow politics had become the moment I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
All of this is not to say that one cannot sympathize with struggles for social and political equality without visiting sites firsthand. Rather, my experiences merely challenged my idea of powerful leaders as larger-than-life figures and transformed them in my mind into ordinary men and women who happened to do some extraordinary things.
Almosa Pirela-Jones is a senior majoring in English with a dual minor in creative writing and African-American Studies. Born in Manhattan, she moved to her hometown of Memphis at a young age and graduated from Houston High School in 2013. Almosa serves as the editor-in-chief of Dewpoint Literary Journal and vice president of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in publishing.