Civil Rights Tour Connects the Present to the Past

Students posing at museum

The Global Connections group made a stop at the Albany (Ga.) Civil Rights Institute.

Student in front of monument

Imani Lewis ponders the Civil Rights Memorial.

Last May nine Oxford students participated in the 2011 Global Connections’ Civil Rights and the American South trip, giving them an unusual opportunity: a trip across four states, discussing the history of racial segregation and the modern civil rights movement.

The trip was organized by Chaplain Lyn Pace, whose coleader was Associate Professor of History Susan Ashmore.

Pace wanted students to see important sites of the civil rights movement and to deepen their understanding. “Many think racism doesn’t exist, that all issues have been resolved,” he says. “It is important that we understand the history of the civil rights movement in order to assess things as they are now more accurately.”

Global Connections, a program of Oxford’s Office of the Chaplain and the Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement, began in 2006 to help students connect their spiritual convictions with issues such as peace, poverty, human rights, and the environment.

The itinerary included Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, and sites in Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson and Oxford, Mississippi; and Memphis, Tennessee. Two days in Memphis included visiting the National Civil Rights Museum and the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Of the trip, Imani Lewis 11OX 13C says, “I learned things that I had never heard about the movement, was encouraged to critically examine and question the past, and most importantly I have come to appreciate the ongoing struggle that has made a way for me.”

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