Civil Rights Bus Tour
Beginning in the 2011-12 school year, I helped develop and lead a social justice-oriented educational program in collaboration with Dr. Rosangela Boyd and other staff in the Office of Community Engagement and Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services. For the past five years, the week-long tour has annually brought about 20 students to historic sites and museums across the South. Yet the trip has gone far beyond ordinary heritage tourism, featuring panel discussions with grassroots movement activists, critical conversations and reflection sessions on race and racism (and other forms of oppression), introductory lessons on community organizing and the origins of social movements, and–most importantly–training in and examples of group-centered or collective leadership models.
A pilgrimage to hallowed locales in American history and a classroom on wheels, the TCU Civil Rights Bus Tour allows students to learn from the past in order to change the future. Past trip highlights have included panel discussions and other partnerships with the COFO Civil Rights Education Center in Jackson, the Mississippi Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, AFSCME Local 1733 in Memphis, American Baptist College in Nashville, and crossing the bridge with the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma–as well as tours led by veteran SNCC organizers including Mr. Charles McLaurin and the late Ms. Margaret Block. Many students describe the trip as “life-changing”–see this testimonial in the student newspaper.
Beginning in 2014, students on the tour have also been required to enroll in my course, HIST 40873 – The Civil Rights Movement in America, which I now co-teach with Dr. Emily Farris of the Political Science department. The course and trip’s success would not be possible without the hard work and support of our many partners in Student Affairs over the years, including Rosangela, Mel Gruver, Natasha Chapman, Jason Wallace, Leslie Chanthaphasouk, Rochelle Harris, Irene Arellano, Timeka Gordon, April Brown, and of course, Dr. Darron Turner.
Latino/a Civil Rights Struggle Justice Journey
Beginning in Spring 2017, my collaborators and I will offer a new program on the Latino/a experience that will alternate annually with the African American Civil Rights Bus Tour. Following the same model, students will enroll in a new semester-long course cross-listed in History and Political Science and co-taught by Dr. Emily and myself, in partnership with Rosangela, Laura Vasquez, and Roxana Aguirre in Student Affairs. Over spring break, we will embark on a six day trip to learn about the history and present of the Chicano/a Movement, Latino/a Politics, and Immigrant Rights in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, and perhaps other locations. Thanks to an Instructional Development Grant written by Emily, a few of us are now conducting background research to identify partners and speakers in each of the field sites. Like collaborators in the community include the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, State Representative Diego Bernal, La Unión del Pueblo Entero, and a wide range of veteran Chicano/a movement activists and present-day organizers.
Emily and I and our partners plan to offer the Latino/a Civil Rights Struggle Justice Journey in odd-numbered years, alternating with the African American Civil Rights Bus Tour offered in even-numbered years.