Update 1.31.12: Cedarville University Public Relations featured my answers below in a piece here.
I have been trying to make time to reflect on the bus tour last weekend in writing. Missing five days of work to participate in the experience has set me back. I was asked a few questions for a campus publication, though, and it will only take two seconds to share these initial reflections that with cyberspace. In summary, this trip was easily one of the best educational experiences I have had in my life. Lecture halls cannot offer the same opportunities as meeting the people involved, walking the very streets where events took place, and browsing museum after museum of historical facts, photos, and artifacts. The Civil Rights Movement, though still on-going, is not something that majority culture discusses enough, but in a world of diversity, isolation and ignorance are no longer acceptable.
What is your year in school and your major?
5th Yr., Computer Engineering
What made you want to go on this trip/have you been on this trip before?
This was my first time on the trip. I have been heavily involved in an urban church and other urban ministry opportunities and plan to pursue urban ministry as a lifelong service in conjunction with a career in engineering. Living, working, and representing Christ in the hood DEMANDS an understanding of racial history and tensions, and unfortunately, my education thus far did not include much at all regarding Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.
What was the most memorable moment of the trip for you?
Though there are many, one of the most memorable moments was learning about the plethora of death threats that Dr. King received near the end of his life. He loved his family, and yet he stated that “longevity has its place, but I’m not concerned about that now. I just wanna do God’s Will.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Mountaintop Speech”) God, help me to have that same kind of determination and selflessness.
What things did you discover that hadn’t been brought to your attention before?
The entire history of the Civil Rights Movement was new to me. Through my education thus far, I have been taught about the slavery era, and teachers have mentioned the Civil Rights Movement, but it left me with the taste that the Movement had solved all racial tensions and that the modern world is free of all racial animosity. False.
Did this trip change your perception of the Civil Rights movement, and if so how?
Yes, the trip made me realize that my white majority culture tries to segregate itself still to this day to the point of rationalizing away the continued need for the Movement. Though Dr. King and his colleagues kick-started the Movement, there is still much need in the United States to seek racial reconciliation, and I want to be a part of it.
Would you recommend this trip for other students and faculty? Why?
I would highly recommend this trip to anyone, but even more-so to any person who has no understanding of the need for racial reconciliation. Many of my white peers at Cedarville come out of white middle/upper-class families who often have been isolated from racial tensions. I do not blame them for this, but our country is changing drastically, and if we are to be a vehicle for the advancement of the Gospel or even a competent professional, we have to have a grasp on the diversity that is now present in the United States. This requires an intentional effort to seek opportunities to understand inter-racial needs, and this tour is probably the best chance for that that Cedarville has to offer.