From March 11-18, during spring break, students from Oklahoma Christian University will travel to key places from the civil rights movement for an excursion. This is the first time the trip is taking place since 2019 after the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020.
The group of seven students will be led by Assistant Dean of Students, Gary Jones, with help from Diversity Student Coordinator, Audrey Redfearn. Redfearn said this trip will be slightly different from past experiences.
“With some places still reopening from the pandemic, we may have to alter some of our normal stops,” Redfearn said.
The tour will travel through key places from the civil rights movement including Little Rock, Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Jackson, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Virginia. Depending upon coronavirus, some of these locations may change to maintain the student’s safety.
Sophomore Chasity McMahan will be attending and said she has been waiting for the trip since last semester.
“I decided to go on this trip so I could learn more about civil rights history and see pivotal monuments and museums. I might not get to as life gets busier,” McMahan said.
Redfearn has been communicating with students about what to expect on the trip.
“I hope students have a better understanding of what happened during the civil rights movement and the opportunity to dialog with their peers about the sites they have the opportunity to see,” Redfearn said.
Freshman Brianna Hicks said this trip is something someone can not just learn from, but remember daily.
“I feel like, oftentimes, people only focus on the civil rights movement when they get to that portion of the history book, or when it is Black History Month,” Hicks said. “But the civil rights movement shaped African American history and it shaped American history.”
The group will visit sites like Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, where nine black children were integrated into an all-white public school. They will also visit the 16th Street Baptist Church, the location of a white supremacist bombing in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, which is the site of the infamous Bloody Sunday conflict of 1965.
McMahan said the civil rights trip will teach valuable lessons.
“The civil rights movement was the start of change in the United States and it can give students the opportunity to see how far we have come, but also still need to continue to grow,” McMahan said.
Hicks said bringing back the annual trip is crucial to the Oklahoma Christian community.
“I think this is important to the OC community because it lets current students, prospective students, faculty and staff alike see the school cares about, takes an interest in and respects their Black students,” Hicks said.
Redfearn said this trip is unique compared to other history tours and trips.
“It is a great opportunity for students to be able to see history,” Redfearn said. “We will spend a whole week being intentional about learning more about the civil rights movement.”
Hicks said she hopes to better understand her heritage while experiencing the trip.
“I am really looking forward to traveling to places that I have never been to before,” Hicks said. “I am also looking forward to gaining a new appreciation for my culture as an African American.”
While they are traveling, the group will have the opportunity to visit a few Church of Christ churches along the way for fellowship and a meal. The student group will leave on Friday, March 11 and return on Friday, March 18.