UTM students learn about Civil Rights on Memphis field trip
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 18:03
On Saturday, Feb. 23, the Civil Rights Conference took 25 students on a field trip to Memphis, Tenn., to the Civil Rights Museum along with Slavehaven.
Debra-Williams Boyd, who has been very active in the Civil Rights Conference since its inception, was the faculty advisor on the trip as well.
Boyd believed that the students were in awe of everything they saw and all the information they received.
“This broadened their knowledge of the Civil Rights and the importance of knowing exactly what happened. It put them in that place for a moment,” Boyd said.
The students experienced many different things throughout the trip starting at the Civil Rights Museum. Upon entering the museum, they were greeted by three UTM graduates and one of them served as their escort during the visit. During the tour of the museum, they walked through the phase that overlooked the Lorraine Motel’s balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Boyd said as they were touring that part of the Museum, they got to see many pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement. She also said the students were very excited to see a photograph of Diane Nash, who was the guest speaker for the 2013 conference.
On the way to Slavehaven, Boyd asked the bus driver to drive down Front Street so the students could see the Mississippi River as it was the escape for slaves at one time. When the group arrived at Slavehaven, they were welcomed by another former UTM student. At Slavehaven they learned about quilt patterns, went into an actual cellar that once housed slaves and saw a passageway that was used as a pathway to get to the Mississippi River. Boyd said they also learned history behind many of the songs that are sung in today’s churches such as “Wade in the Water,” “Steal Away,” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” They also learned about the drums and how they communicated a message to the slaves. Boyd said the facility was very crowded, but UTM received the red carpet treatment.
Boyd said she will recommend this trip again because there was so much more they could have done and been exposed to.
“They all agreed that the trip was informational, recreational and educational all in one,” Boyd said.
Boyd strongly believes that students should learn about Civil Rights. She would like to personally thank the departments that helped sponsor the event, and she encourages more faculty and staff to participate in the Civil Rights Conference because the knowledge is powerful.