This Is For Them

July 15, 2022

Top left: Michelle in front of a exhibit; Bottom left: Outside of museum; Right: dress made by Rosa Parks

Written by: Michelle Bonilla, Caminos al Futuro 2022

It has been almost two weeks of me waking up in a bed that is not mine. And every day has been filled with shenanigans that have implemented themselves into a special place in my heart. From having late night dance parties to viewing the Fourth of July fireworks at the Lincoln Memorial, I have had the most engaging experience of my life. However, the most memorable moment was the recent visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

While I identify as a Latin woman from a very diverse background, the displays at the Museum showed me the repercussions of being a person of color. Visiting the floors of this historic site made me realize that I must give attention to the older generations in my family and acknowledge their struggles. They may not be in a museum, but their memories shape the way I view the world. I continue to achieve and surpass due to their influence and legacies they have left behind for me to follow.

While receiving a private tour of the Museum, the articles of clothing made it all too real. Seeing the sizes of the clothing, with pieces of thread still hanging off them, made me realize that these individuals were not just heroes in books or on television. They were regular people that were sick and tired of being treated as less. These pieces of clothing will continue to be more than just fabric as they hold history and lessons for future generations to come. I hope my cohort leaves lessons behind for the next generation of Caminos Scholars.

Michelle Bonilla is a Caminos al Futuro 2022 scholar. Michelle’s views are her own and not necessarily reflective of the Cisneros Institute.