|Bacone's group was 25 strong during Sunday's visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., accompanied by Bacone President Rev. Dr. Robert J. Duncan, Jr. (Baconian Online photos by Chesley Oxendine)|
For most college students, Sunday is typically a day for last minute papers, or perhaps relaxing after a hectic weekend.
This wasn't the case for 25 students who rode by bus six hours to Memphis, Tenn. to visit National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM), and returned Sunday night.
Bacone College President Rev. Dr. Robert J. Duncan, Jr., already present in the city, joined the group who left campus around 5:30 a.m.
"The use of my time added some importance to the trip," he said. "I'm proud to be bringing this group."Duncan said Sunday's visit represented the school's dedication to equality.
Duncan's office sponsored the Memphis outing and covered meals and museum admission.
The all-day jaunt marked Bacone's initiative for a campus chapter of the
National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the president said.
Duncan confirmed NAACP's initial $21 dues would be covered by the college.
According to its website (http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org), the National Civil Rights Museum was constructed around Lorraine Motel, where civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968.
Part of Lorraine, including room 306 where King stayed, is preserved. Even era-appropriate car replicas are in the parking lot.
Bacone students collectively gasped as they grasped the history before them.
"That was my favorite part of the exhibit," said Criminal Justice major Dustin Cozad. "That was powerful."
Once inside, visitors were offered small MP3 players that featured guided audio on each exhibit.
The tour wound through a series of presentations that began with colonial slavery, and ended with King's assassination.
Newspaper articles, photos, and transcribed speeches lined the galleries. TV screens displayed films of protestors beaten or attacked, sometimes by police.
One such exhibit was a full-size replica bus, complete with a statue of famous protester Rosa Parks, whose Dec. 1955 arrest sparked non-violent protests across America.
Bacone students sitting next to the Parks' model were treated to an audio message demanding they move further back on the bus, or be arrested.
made him think.
"I want to know more about what part Natives played in the Civil Rights Movement," he said.
Jeanine White, a business administration junior, said she had looked forward to the trip.
"I was tired of Martin Luther King parades," she said. "I'm glad they did something to represent black culture."
White described her favorite exhibit as the museum's restored jail cell full of steel beds.
"Going to jail in those days for protesting almost became a compliment," explained White. "You were a living martyr."
She said the National Civil Rights Museum made her feel part of a cause
"bigger than myself."
Junior Criminal Justice major Antoinette Ortega placed special emphasis on a secondary tour where alleged assassin James Earl Ray stayed.
The annex includes evidence of Ray's involvement, a full replica of his alleged getaway car and information on modern civil rights movements.
"It made me want to further my career," she said. "It can encourage students like myself."
Ortega said she had waited a long time to visit the museum.
"I'm glad to be part of history. It was like a dream," she said. "I'm just blessed."
Duncan said his favorite part was seeing the diversity of visitors, which ranged from black to white and Native Americans.
"This is a wonderful cross-section of Bacone," he said.