Updated: Wednesday, 21 Jan 2009, 11:55 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 21 Jan 2009, 11:55 PM EST
CEDARVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) - As time pushes on and our lives become more separated from the period in our nation's history that shook our country to its core, it's hard for young people to imagine what it was like when America was fraught with racial tension. In order to bridge the gaps between the civil rights movement and the modern student, Cedarville University devised a hands-on approach to history.
A group of nearly 30 students and staff members loaded onto a double-decker bus late Wednesday night, headed for a three day tour of some of the centers of the fight for equality.
"I think it's going to be a great way for me to live what I've been reading about since the fourth grade in history books and I think there are going to be a lot of tears shed. It's going to be pretty intense, so I'm looking forward to it," said Andrea Davis, freshman.
"It's something that's no longer in a text book," said John Davis, Director of Cedarville University Public Relations. "It's real, and in a sense they become accountable to history and accountable so that some of these things never happen again."
The first stop is Atlanta, which is Martin Luther King, Junior's birthplace. The students will also stop in Montgomery and Selma Alabama, Memphis, Tennessee, and to the center of the fight: Birmingham, Alabama. The students will visit Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters were sprayed with a fire hose and attacked by police dogs. They'll also stand in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where four little girls were killed in a racially motivated bombing.
"These historic events took place before many of these students were born," said Patrick Oliver, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Cedarville. "They may have read about them, they may have seen them broadcast on television shows, but they never had an opportunity to experience them. So to take them to these places and to give them a greater appreciation and understanding of the history of America, I think it's significant."
While textbooks will eventually be torn and tattered, the hope is that these students will carry these stories with them for the rest of their lives.
"I've never really been a part of something like this before," said Grant Miller, freshman. "I'm really excited to get to spend the next couple of days with people with different backgrounds and different stories to tell. I really hope to gain a greater appreciation for their cultures, their backgrounds and also to learn more about myself through this as well."
While they travel between points, the students will watch such
intense movies as Mississippi Burning and Crash. Professors say
this is not a trip for the light-hearted.