College of Evansville summer season program examines civil rights motion

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – A new summer program at the University of Evansville allows students to experience firsthand the history of the civil rights movement and invite them to ask questions as they relate to today’s protests against racial justice.

The Journey to Justice bus tour runs from July 24th to 31st. The group will depart from Evansville with stops in Montgomery, Alabama. Selma, Alabama; Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky. Along the way, students visit historical sites and museums in each city.

Many churches are on the program.

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“There is a real connection here to the Christian tradition of black Protestants,” said Rob Shelby, UE’s chief diversity officer. “Much of the underlying cause of the civil rights movement was a strong religious commitment and understanding … We are allowed to go to these churches. We are allowed to go to these museums, to the Edmund Pettis Bridge, where John Lewis and others were … met violence, but they persisted. “

The tour is primarily aimed at aspiring juniors and high school seniors. According to Valerie Stein, professor of religious studies at UE and program director for race and ethnicity studies, it has three goals. She said the first thing to do is to impart knowledge about the history of this country, especially about the breed.

“In general, aside from a passing nod to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, I think most of my students have at least a really basic understanding of the civil rights movement,” Stein said.

“The issues we deal with as a society in connection with the killing of unarmed black men and women, issues of voting rights, all of this has a history, a context that becomes so much clearer with this understanding.” She added.

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Stein said the tour is also an attempt to make the UE curriculum more inclusive and an opportunity to inspire students to make the world a better place.

Journey to Justice invites students to ask questions about contemporary social movements, including the Black Lives Matter movement. Stein said she noted in her own teaching that students want universities to provide a space to address these big issues.

The tour will visit the Breonna Taylor Memorial at the Roots 101 African American Museum in Louisville, where there was a summer of protests after Taylor, a young black woman, was shot dead at her home by Louisville police.

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“I think this will be a very important way of connecting the past with the present,” said Stein.

“What was fascinating is the understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement in relation to the Christian tradition,” said Shelby. “There are many connection points and there are many points where they differ from each other. There are no easy answers.”

The tour corresponds to a college class with three credit points at the UE, Social Justice Movements. Students also read a book before the trip, and then do some work afterwards to meet course requirements.

For students attending the UE later, the course can be used to meet a general educational requirement or as a required class in the major in ethics and social change. Students wishing to attend other universities may be eligible for transfer credits.

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Registration will open shortly. The basic cost of the trip is $ 800 and covers transportation, accommodation, on-site visit fees, and some meals. High school students will be charged an additional $ 350 toward college credit. Financial support is available.

The program was made possible by funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. For more information, see

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