Civil Rights Bus Tour
January 23, 2012
This post was written yesterday by Janice Supplee, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at Cedarville University, while returning from a University-planned bus tour of Civil Rights historical sites.
We're on our way home!
I just spent four days on a bus with 25 amazing Cedarville University students and four of my colleagues touring important Civil Rights historical sites. We've slept on a bus, learned how to get ready quickly in a truck stop bathroom, had deep talks, shared stories and hurts, laughed at crazy jokes, and learned from one another.
How do you capture all that's happened or what I've learned in a short essay ... or why post about this personal experience on this blog anyway?
Here's why ...
Cedarville is life-transforming, and not just for the students who attend. Those of us who have the privilege of working here are also in the process of being changed more and more into Christ's likeness, sharpened by Christian brothers and sisters who are walking this road together.
This Civil RIghts Bus Tour was one of those concentrated experiences where you grow, and it would never have happened if it weren't for Cedarville. From what I've been told, Cedarville may be the only Christian college that offers an experience of this nature every year!
I come away dumbfounded by the history I had never heard or learned.
I knew a little about Martin Luther King, Jr., but I somehow missed how much his passion for equality and human dignity was driven by biblical teaching and eternal hope. Listening to the speech he delivered the night before his assassination when he talked of having "seen the promised land," you hear a man -- fallen like the rest of us to be sure -- but a man who had a confident Hope in a God who one day will make all things right. He entrusted his life to Him, not knowing he would meet his God the next afternoon.
I'd heard of segregation, but it seemed far, far away and a long, long time ago. Unlike "Star Wars," separate bathrooms, separate drinking fountains, separate restaurants, separate shops, (separate everything!) happened in my lifetime and not that many miles from where I lived!
Names like Rosa Parks, Rosewood, and 16th Street Baptist Church mean something now. So do four little girls who died in a Sunday bombing, three college students who were murdered for trying to help black men register to vote, and thousands of "foot soldiers" unnamed and unheralded who risked their jobs and sometimes their lives to stand for what was right. Would I be so brave?
Four concentrated days of reviewing this kind of history can be discouraging -- prejudice, violence, hatred. Listening to the honest stories from minority students sharing misunderstandings and hurtful comments they've endured is tough. It weighs on your heart; you search for answers, and they're not quick to come.
But, our final stop on the trip was a picture of what happens when God enters our world of brokenness. Our group attended Fellowship Memphis church, pastored by Rev. Bryan Loritts. Here is a truly multi-ethnic body of believers located in a southern city with a troubled racist history worshipping together in love and unity. A beautiful thing indeed ... and a privilege to be a part of it!
It reminded me of a visit my family had to the Brooklyn Tabernacle this summer. We were seated next to an elderly black gentleman who'd been at the church since its founding. As we worshipped with men and women of what felt like "every tongue, every tribe, and every nation," he turned to us and said, "Welcome to heaven!"
So cool ... and so true!
So, you're a parent helping your student think about college choices. This trip has made me realize all over again why I'm so thankful to represent Cedarville. Don't tell my bosses, but I'd probably do this for free. :) I'm so thankful to be part of a place that is intentional about helping students learn, wrestle with tough issues, and apply Truth to the questions of life.
By the way, how much do you think students paid for this experience? I was shocked ... just $75, and that's to cover a portion of their meals. The University is investing in this trip because it's a priority.
Thanks for listening. My heart is full, but I'm excited to be going home, too!
This is a photo of our bus tour group.
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