Berea College faculty and staff have just returned to campus from the bi-annual Civil Rights Seminar and Tour sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Center. The Center, whose mission statement is to “promote social and cultural change through the transformative power of education that recognizes the enhancing value of all peoples of the earth,” offers the tour in alignment with the College’s own mission as shaped and guided by eight Great Commitments.
The fifth Great Commitment of Berea College is to assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites as a foundation for building community among all peoples of the earth.
The tour, which kicked off Friday, July 26, featured a half-day seminar on campus, and a week of travel to various locations associated with the Civil Rights movement, including stops in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Along the way, participants toured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home, attended church service at Faith Chapel in Birmingham, and visited Civil Rights institutes and museums in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and Jackson. The tour also featured a special stop at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of the Selma to Montgomery Marches.
The week of travel concluded in Memphis with a visit to Mason Temple and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The tour, which was emotional for many of its participants, offered valuable insight and prompted difficult conversations. Elle Keys, a first-time attendee of the tour, said, “This tour really helped me solidify my beliefs. My education at Berea already exposed me to these conversations, but the tour was so immersive it helped me understand racial issues at new depths. The tour gave voices and personal narratives to larger scale issue conversations I had in my time as a student and helped me articulate my beliefs.”