The Civil Rights Bus Tour

Provost Blog


The Civil Rights Bus Tour

February 6, 2012

On January 18, I had the privilege of piling into a double-decker bus for a four day trip touring many civil rights historical sites.  It was a great opportunity to experience difficult parts of our history and develop close relationships with our students.  This is an amazing opportunity that our Student Life Division sponsors each year.  The trip is open to our campus community and I would encourage our faculty, administrators, and students to take this eye-opening trip to learn and grow.

Led by Jon Purple, the dean for student life programs, we began our journey in Atlanta, Georgia, at Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace. The group continued to Alabama where we visited the Rosa Parks Library and Museum as well as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the National Voting Rights Museum. Stopping in Memphis, Tennessee, we spent an afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorrain Motel where King was assassinated.

“It was an eye-opening experience to see the horrors that were perpetrated in the name of racial purity and even in the name of God,” said Zachary Weston, a junior management student who attended the trip. “It was so frustrating to read of men and women who served their country—some even as soldiers—yet would be lynched or shot if they tried to register to vote.”

Taking advantage of the travel time, we watched many movies about the movement such as “Mississippi Burning,” “Rosewood,” “Red Tails” and “The Help,” all of which spurred discussion of civil rights issues, both past and present.

“In order to have a complete understanding of racial reconciliation one must be willing to see unsettling things and hear difficult truths,” said Emilie Dalavai, a freshman studying global economics and business. “It was disturbing and hard to watch, but I have grown so much as a person as a result of this trip.”