COMMUNITY • BY AMANDA ZIADEH
The Civil Rights Educational Freedom Tour will be taking off from Rockville, Md. on April 2 and will be returning on April 7.
The tour is set to visit Greensboro, N.C., Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Montgomery, Ala., Selma, Ala., Tuskegee, Ala., Cincinnati OH., and Memphis, Tenn. According to the tour’s website, these are the places where the Civil Rights Movements were taking place during the mid 1950s and 1960s.
According to James L. Stowe, director of the Office of Human Rights and the tour director of this project, the bus tours started in 2009 as an educational outreach program in order to “re-engage the Montgomery County Community with the Office of Human Rights and to build a relationship with each other based on shared experiences.”
The tour will follow the steps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, the “Sit-Ins” in Woolworth Department Stores, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the children of Birmingham memorialized in Kelly Ingram Park, Bloody Sunday, the march across the Edmond Pettus Bridge in the search for voters’ rights, the march from Selma to Montgomery, the Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. George Washington Carver and his life-changing sciences, and finally, the events at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, according to the website.
Stowe said the stops will include visits to museums, historical sites and presentations as a way to learn and experience what our freedom fighters did and had to do for freedom.
“They learn that every race and culture contributed to the civil rights movement and everyone can claim ownership to a part of the fight for justice and equality in this country,” Stowe said.
Montgomery County is a part of this bus tour for historical and relevant reasons. It was one of the first communities in the country to ban discrimination in public places and create open housing laws. Montgomery County was also one of the first to give colored people the opportunity to look for employment, Stowe said.
The leadership and hard work of William Gibbs in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People allowed for the equal pay for black educators in Montgomery County, according to Stowe.
In addition, in the 1960s, Montgomery County was a part of the early boycotts of restaurants and picketing of Glen Echo Park, as well as the formation of Commission on Interracial Problems; which is now the Office of Human Rights, Stowe said.
This bus tour offers two major benefits to the community: appreciation of the daily sacrifices that was made by all races and cultures at some point that risked their lives in the perseverance for freedom, and a greater determination for working in this community in order to improve racial and cultural relationships while learning about those cultures, according to Stowe.
This is an opportunity to learn, experience and grow as a community. There are still some seats available for the tour, and participants’ fees cover all costs of the tour. Visit the Office of Human Rights website for pricing and itinerary details and don’t miss your chance to trace the steps of our nation’s Civil Rights Movements.