A group of almost 30 A&M-Commerce students ventured outside of Texas during Black History Month in February to learn about U.S. civil rights history. The group traveled to Mississippi and Tennessee on a week-long tour to visit locations important to the civil rights movement. Dr. LaVelle Hendricks, associate professor of counseling, coordinated the tour.
“We’re taking students out of the brick and mortar, and we’re giving them hands-on learning,” Hendricks said. The trip began with a stop at Tougaloo College in Mississippi for an overview of the civil rights movement in that state. Scheduled activities for the week also included a visit to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, viewings of the movies “Selma” and “Mississippi Burning,” and a tour of the Medgar Evers House Museum.
One of the trip’s most unique features was the face-to-face encounters students had with members of the civil rights movement. Students attended a tour with activist Charles McLaurin as well as an oral history panel comprised of “foot soldiers” of the movement. Samantha Mejia, sophomore political science major, said, “Ms. Flonzie Brown-Wright, Mr. Hollis [Watkins] and Reverend [Ed] King were all very motivational speakers and to hear that they were all younger than us and so active in the movement was both inspiring and emotional.”
Several students echoed the sentiment that learning outside of the classroom was integral to the value of the trip. Teryn Pierce, senior liberal studies major, encountered a Ku Klux Klan uniform several times on the trip. He said, “I remember feeling anger, pain and sadness.”
A few students noted that the trip will impact them as they go forward. Mejia, who wants to be a civil rights lawyer, said, “I will always carry the experience from this trip with me. I want to be an active part of rewriting history and making the world a better place for my future children.”