On a Sunday afternoon in late May, thirty-three college students and one Dr. LaVelle Hendricks of Texas A&M University-Commerce boarded a charter bus bound for Birminghim, Alabama - a city that has played host to some of the most significant events in American civil rights history.
The week long journey would take the group through Selma and on to Montgomery before the week was out.
Students visited Rickwood Field, the 16th Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Miles College, the Edmund Pettus bridge, the home of Coretta Scott King, The Rosa Parks museum, Lincoln School in Marion, AL, and other sites that played roles in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Now in its fourth year and a fully-accredited college course credit, the trip is made possible by East Texas State University alumni Frank and Rosalie Turner. The couple are longtime donors to Texas A&M University-Commerce, and have a passion for connecting young people with this vital American history.
An accomplished author, Rosalie Turner penned her fifth book, a novel, "March with Me," that tells the story of race relations in 1960s Birmingham. Turner's research for the book connected her with myriad "foot soldiers," people throughout Alabama who played first-hand roles in protests, marches, and other events of the time. Many of those people now play a role in this week long learning experience for university students at Turner's request.
In the July 2015 episode of The President's Perspective, A&M-Commerce president Dr. Dan Jones hears from students who attended the trip this year, and from Dr. LaVelle Hendricks, who serves as faculty, chaperone, mentor, leader, spiritual advisor, and many other roles in the planning and execution of this endeavor.
The President's Perspective is a monthly half-hour chat with the president and CEO of Texas A&M University-Commerce, Dr. Dan Jones. The program is produced in the studios at Binnion Hall on the university campus.