Four Grace College faculty and staff members participated in a nine-day Civil Rights Bus Tour this summer. The tour was led by Dr. Todd Allen, founder of The Common Ground Project and professor of communication at Messiah College. The bus stopped at key southern sites of the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Ohio.
The Common Ground Project is a community-based non-profit dedicated to teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. One of the primary ways this mission is achieved is through the annual Returning to the Roots of Civil Rights Tour.
This was the second time representatives from Grace College participated in the tour. Previously, Professor of History Dr. Mark Norris partnered with Allen to lead a group of thirteen students on the tour. This year, Jacqueline Schram, dean of academic services; Connie Burkholder, coordinator of student disability services; Jared Burkholder, department chair of the History and Political Science Department; and Jermaine Chaney, special adviser to the president for minority student affairs, represented Grace on the trip.
Jared Burkholder reflected on the historical value of the trip, “Anybody who’s traveled to historic sites knows that it is one of the best ways to learn and you come back with a deeper understanding through the experience. Civil Rights sites are no exception. These places are powerful reminders of the important role that civil rights activists played in our nation’s history, the reality of racism, and the struggle for social justice. It was a humbling experience. ”
Looking forward, Grace College plans to offer this trip more regularly to students, faculty, and staff. Kearstin Criswell, director of student involvement and spearhead of this initiative, said, “We believe the tour is an eye-opening experience to injustices that have shaped our society and culture and that greater understanding will motivate those who attend to work for positive change on our campus.” – from grace.edu