In 1965, during my freshman year at UCLA, Dr. King came to campus and spoke to the students. Some of us were moved enough to sign up for the Bruin SCOPE project later that summer. After an initial orientation in Atlanta we were assigned to a voter registration project in Macon, Georgia. In August we heard of trouble further south in Georgia. Some of us volunteered to go down to Americus and lend a hand. Our non violent demonstrations resulted in all of us being arrested and confined in the local jail. Ironically I was later stationed in the same area during my service in the US Army.
Many years later I again returned to the South, deployed by the American Red Cross in response to Hurricane Katrina. Towards the end of my rotation I stayed overnight in Meridian, the town where Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Many things have changed since the days of Mississippi Burning, many things still need to change but I do believe that our work had some lasting effect. It certainly had a lasting effect on me, shaping my life for years to come. I also count some of my fellow Bruin SCOPE members as life-long friends and for that I am grateful.