There is a lot to learn when a journey begins at 4 a.m. and ends five days later at 2 a.m. There is much to discover about history, the present day, and ourselves.
The 2018 Cedarville University Civil Rights Bus Tour was a collaborative program sponsored by Cedarville University’s Department of History and Government and Intercultural Leadership office, Southgate Baptist Church, and First Baptist Church of London. We bonded together as we traveled more than 2,000 miles visiting significant places related to civil rights in America. The journey included Memphis, TN; Montgomery, AL; Birmingham, AL; Selma, AL; and Atlanta, GA.
Along those miles, we encountered history while experiencing the challenges we still face today. As one tour member put it, “Sometimes the journey raised more questions than answers.”
One of the challenging moments on our journey occurred at 7 a.m. on the first day. We stopped for a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, and a group of farmers was holding court in the dining room. They wanted to know who we were and where we were going. How do you say we are on a journey of exploration to wreck our preconceived notions about history and to trust the Lord in a more personal and deep way with complete strangers?
Another impactful moment came in Atlanta at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. While we were waiting to enter the center, we encountered a family visiting the museum for the first time. They lived 15 minutes away and had come to realize their community was a hub nationally for sex slavery. The proximity to national sports, air travel, and large events provide cover for this terrible crime. They came to the museum to learn what they could do to be part of the solution.
Each day we traversed deeper into challenges faced 100 years ago. Each day we saw challenges dealt with 100 days ago. The Civil Rights Bus tour is overwhelming as well as illuminating, and it leaves each participant forever changed. One tour member, a medical professional from Springfield, OH, was so moved that he contacted his adult daughter while on the trek and asked her to attend the trip with him next year.