Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama

Civil Rights History Immersion

by Nicole Hackett, Student Public Relations Writer

The annual Civil Right Bus Tour began October 17, taking Cedarville University students, faculty, staff, and area church leaders and members on a five-day journey to the most iconic civil rights movement landmarks in the United States.

Traveling during the university's fall break, the group will journey more than 2,000 miles and visit Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, the location of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination and the National Civil Right Museum. In Alabama, they will stop at Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, the site of Dr. King’s arrest before he wrote “Letters from Birmingham Jail,” and Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the location of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” voting march.

“The fundamental reason we started this was because the church has lagged on civil responsibility and civil rights,” explained Dr. Murray Murdoch, distinguished professor of history at Cedarville University. “The Scriptures teach us that we are one in Christ, one in the blood, one in the Holy Spirit, one in the church, one in heaven. We ought to promote that oneness and educate our people on the reality of what American life was like in the middle of the last century.”

Murdoch will lead the group, with assistance from Rev. Greg Dyson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, London, Ohio, and Cedarville’s director of intercultural leadership, and Bobby Hile, senior pastor of Southgate Baptist Church, Springfield, Ohio.

Cedarville students will be joined by local members of Southgate Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of London for the tour. The goal is to create a diverse environment of ages, gender and ethnicity to share experiences and learn from one another.

This year, the group will meet with Cedarville chancellor and former president, Dr. Paul Dixon, at Atlanta Bible Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, for the closing banquet.

Four years ago, Dr. Thomas White, president of Cedarville University, approached Murdoch and Dyson to revamp the bus tour into a class.

“That speaks to our students by saying this isn’t something that will just be enriching to your life, but it is valuable for your life education,” said Dyson. Since then, the tour has been offered to students as a one-credit-hour class. The students will be taught by Murdoch, who has been teaching this subject for more than 50 years and was a faculty member at Cedarville when many of these events occurred. Murdoch will lecture at each historical site.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.