MLK Memorial Foundation Connects Youth with Their Roots on Civil Rights Travel Tour

Shown l-r are chaperones Claretha James, Gary Thomas, Shirley Meeks and Ron Brice with students Kenneth Williams, Mia Sykes, Shelton Bacon, Tyriq Shaw.

By Shekinah Israel Carter

The MLK Memorial Foundation sponsored a civil rights overnight tour in Montgomery, Alabama. The nine hour bus ride provided the students and chaperones the opportunity to discuss the trips legacy and struggle for justice and freedom. The Civil Rights Memorial is dedicated to the forty-one people who were killed in the struggle for the equal and integrated treatment of all people, regardless of race, during the 1954-1968 civil rights movement in the United States. The memorial is sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The tour agenda included: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, The Legacy Museum, The Rosa Parks Museum, and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Students were impressed and in awe of the waxed human-sized models of Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights activists. They were also excited by the interactive display of the bus that highlighted the Rosa Parks’ story.

At the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, students viewed exhibits focusing on lynching and slavery

The Civil Rights Movement Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center honored 40 martyrs who were killed during the struggle, leading students to appreciate how far the country has come in its quest for equality and showing students vivid pictures of how far the country has to go.  The Legacy Museum tour included the observance of the names of each person that was lynched, as well as his/her name engraved on a jar that holds the actual soil, dirt, and/or foundation where the lynchings took place. Finally, the tour culminated at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church for Sunday morning service. “I think just knowing we were worshiping in the same church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached made the service extraordinary for all of us,” said attendee Jaime Jackson.  After the service, the group traveled to the basement of the church where the history of Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr., was presented.

‘This experience has taught me a lot,” Davis continued. “These days dogs aren’t chasing us with lynchings in the dark, we are killing ourselves. I’m inspired to do more,” said Davis.


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