By Yael Brown
On May 19, ADL Austin Civil Rights Committee Co-chairs Manuel Escobar and Michael Whellan embarked on a special trip to Alabama with ADL Atlanta. The two-day excursion intended to teach participants about the Civil Rights movement, segregation, and Black American history while physically visiting historically significant sites in Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma.
Escobar and Whellan work as attorneys in Austin. Escobar is a Partner at McGinnis Lochridge, while Whellan is a Partner at Armbrust and Brown. The pair has served on the ADL Austin regional board for more than four years, acting as the Civil Rights co-chairs for the last two years.
Escobar wrote a poignant account of his experiences on the Alabama trip, describing the impact of seeing first hand places he read about in history books.
“Reading about lynchings and wrongful imprisonment was different from visiting the museum in Montgomery, built in one of the many buildings in the city’s downtown area that slaves had been housed prior to sale over 150 years ago,” wrote Escobar. “The museum had numerous stories, letters and testimonials from individuals who had been imprisoned for most of their lives based on evidence that was wrong, nonexistent, or in some cases completely fabricated. Seeing and hearing their stories was powerful in a way that the printed word cannot convey.”
Escobar's full testimony is featured on ADL Austin’s blog at austin.adl.org.
ADL believes that fighting for equity and respect includes acknowledging our country’s historical oppression of minorities, especially during the Jim Crow era that legalized discrimination against African-Americans. ■
To learn more about ADL Austin’s civil rights programming or get more information on a future ADL Austin trip to Alabama, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-249-7960.