Civil Rights Tour

September 20, 2019 - 8:00am to September 22, 2019 - 8:00pm

Civil Rights Tour

When: Friday to Monday, Sept. 20-22
Pricing: Starts at $400 for singles; $800 for couples (more if you prefer your own hotel room)
Register: Please click here to RSVP by Monday, Aug. 5
Questions: Please contact Lucy Crain, director of mission and outreach

Join in the pilgrimage to some of the places where our nation's struggle for racial justice is continuously unfolding. Participants will encounter God, who suffers and hopes with us, through the stories of people who have faced inequality, violence, and even death as as result of their skin color.

Guided by experts, we will learn about the legacy of racism in America, examine our own participation in systems of racial oppression, and consider our present response as people of faith.

Tour will leave Charlotte very early on Friday morning and return late on Sunday evening. We will visit a lynching site and graveyard in Monroe, GA; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and the National Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, GA; the Memorial for Preach and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL; the Voting Rights March Interpretive Center, Edmund Pettis Bridge and Brown's Chapel AME Church in Selma, AL; worship at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL; and visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

There will be some suggested readings ahead of time as well as an educational discussion time.  See below for itinerary details. 

Trip includes two nights accommodation, all museum and tour guide costs, breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, transportation on a 54-passenger charter bus. (Dinner all three nights is on your own.)

Your commitment is needed by Monday, August 5. 
Partial scholarships are available. 

Itinerary Details 

Moore’s Ford Bridge – Monroe, Ga. 
Site of the “last mass lynching in America” (term from Laura Wexler’s book Fire in a Canebarke).  On July 25, 1946 four young African Americans – George and Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger and Dorothy Malcom – were shot multiple times by 12-15 white men in broad daylight at the Moore’s Ford bridge. 

After a lengthy FBI and SBI investigation none of the perpetrators were brought to justice, however the incident had a significant impact on President Harry Truman encouraging him to include a civil rights plank in the Democratic platform in 1948.  The case was reopened in the early 2000’s but with the same results as the original one. 

We will see the marker (the first of its kind in the US) commemorating the lynching, go to the site of the racial terrorism and to the gravesite of one of its victims.  More stories on the work of the Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee and the 14 reenactments of that event occurring every July will be discussed on the bus.  We will also see the movie Lynch Law which chronicles the lynching.  For a brief description of the event and an update on the investigation, click here

Auburn Ave. - Atlanta
This area of Atlanta was known as “Sweet Auburn” and was an important black community for most of the 20th century.  In this area of segregated Atlanta, black businesses and churches thrived.  Close to 2 predominantly black universities (Morehouse and Atlanta) many prominent families lived there, including the Kings.  Martin Luther King, Sr. was appointed the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn Ave. in 1931 and “rescued the church from near bankruptcy.” (Davis, 149). 

His son, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Auburn Ave. and the National Park Service gives tours of the King birthplace.  MLK, Jr.  was appointed co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Churchin 1960 and remained in that position until his assassination in 1968.  Also on Auburn Ave. is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change where in the reflecting pool behind the center is the marble tomb where King and his wife Coretta Scott are buried. 

National Center for Human and Civil Rights – Atlanta
According to their website, The Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta is an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements.

Our purpose is to create a safe space for visitors to explore the fundamental rights of all human beings so that they leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities.”  We will visit their permanent exhibit “Rolls Down Like Water:  The American Civil Rights Movement” which features one of the most stirring simulations of the sit-in movement I have ever experienced.

Montgomery and Selma, AL

The most moving part of our stay in Montgomery is visiting the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and The Memorial for Peace and Justice.  The Museum documents the slave trade, the Jim Crow south, racial terrorism and mass incarceration.  The memorial is in memory of the over 4,000 victims of racial terrorism between 1877 and 1950.  Civil Rights Legacy Museum

The Civil Rights Memorial Center is another stop.  It is located across the street from the offices of the Southern Poverty Law Center founded in 1971 to continue the fight against discrimination in the South and across the nation.  The memorial outside the center was designed by Maya Lin and was dedicated in 1989 to 40 persons, white and black, who died in the civil rights movement.  The Center opened in October, 2005 and features an interactive exhibit where participants pledge to fight intolerance.

Next we will go to key sites of the civil rights movement including the Alabama State Capital, Dexter Ave. Church (King’s first pastorate) and Parsonage, First Baptist Church (whose pastor, Ralph Abernathy, was a key advisor to King), the home Vera Harris (neighbor of King in whose home many famous civil rights activists stayed), and other key sites. 

We will use the same road going to Selma voting rights marchers used in 1965.  On that road we will pass the memorial to Viola Liuzzo, a white woman from Detroit who was killed by Klan members as she was transporting marchers back to Selma.  In Selma, we will cross over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of Bloody Sunday, when voting rights activists were attacked by Alabama state troopers. 

We will also visit the Brown’s Chapel AME Church, which was the site for the mass meetings that proceeded the Voting Rights March.  The voting rights march was organized by both SNCC and SCLC and was the beginning of a significant rift between both organizations as they often argued about the timing of the march.  Malcolm X spoke at this church while Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy were in jail prior to the march.  Surrounding the church are the George Washington Carver Homes.  Built in the early 1950’s, they housed the marchers and the open area behind the church provided the training ground for nonviolent protests.  We will get a tour of these places by Joanne Bland, who as a 13 year old was the youngest participant in the Voting Rights march.

Birmingham, Ala.

We will first visit Kelly Ingram Park in downtown Birmingham.  Named for a local firefighter who was the first sailor in the US Navy killed in WW I, the park is a living testimony to the struggles to desegregate facilities during the summer of 1963.  The SCLC came to town early in 1963 to use its tactics of sit-ins and nonviolent protest to assist the local movement begun many years earlier by Birmingham native Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. 

During the demonstrations King was arrested and, responding to local ministers who condemned his methods and timing, penned the famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail.  At the height of these demonstrations, named Project “C” (confrontation), hundreds of black students from area high schools were attacked by police, dogs and high powered fire hoses under the supervision of police chief “Bull” Connor. 

Like “Bloody Sunday”, these images appeared on national TV and provided a powerful impetus for the famous March on Washington later that summer.  Besides these places, we will hear other stories about the civil rights struggles faced by Shuttlesworth and others and visit “dynamite hill,” whose name suggests the violent resistance to this fight which gave the city its name “Bombingham.”  Former docent at the Civil Rights Institute and high school history teacher Barry McNealy will be our guide.Next we will attend a service at the 16th Street Baptist Church, which was the site in September of that year of a powerful bomb blast that wounded 12 and killed 4 girls.  A new statue was unveiled in September, 2013 in honor of those 4 girls directly across the street from the church  We will conclude the tour with a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which was opened in 1962 to educate visitors about the movement. 

Civil Rights Memorial Center