23751
Alabama

Conference on Civil Rights: A Road Scholar President’s Program

Go beyond the headlines as you take part in a civil rights conference of epic proportions. Learn from civil rights historians and heroes in the city where the movement was born.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23751RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,599
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8 days
7 nights
18 meals
7 B 6 L 5 D
DAY
1
Arrive Montgomery-AL, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Montgomery
D
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Activity note: For those who chose the “Free Airfare” option and arrive at Montgomery Regional Airport on Day One, Road Scholar staff will be on hand outside the baggage claim to greet you and provide directions to your motorcoach or shuttle; look for Road Scholar signs. Transfers from the airport to the hotel will be based on flight arrival times. Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 12:00-5:00 p.m. Join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously). Orientation: 5:30 p.m. In small groups in our private meeting room, our Group Leaders will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. The information that follows is a representative schedule. The group will be subdivided into smaller groups of up to 25 for activities including field trips and some meals. The daily schedule for your group may vary from the specifics indicated in the online itinerary and Information Packet daily schedule. Groups will be determined in advance by the Road Scholar headquarters office. Transportation for program-related activities will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In our private meeting room at the hotel, we will have a 3-course plated dinner including salad, entrée, dessert, and beverage choices of coffee, tea/iced tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Civil Rights History, Keynote Speech, Rosa Parks Museum
Montgomery
B,L,D
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile; walking and standing in museums, city streets, and sidewalks. Sitting for three 1-hour lectures.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel. The breakfast buffet offers hot and cold choices plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Our program starts with a presentation by Steve Murray, Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, that will provide an overview of civil rights history from Reconstruction to the 1960s. Montgomery was the first capital of the Confederacy and became the “birthplace” of the civil rights movement. There will be a short break between the two morning presentations. For our second lecture, we will be joined by Dr. Howard Robinson from the Alabama State University Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture. Dr. Robinson will address key legislation that enforced existing law and changes brought about by the civil rights movement.

Lunch: In the hotel banquet room, we’ll have lunch with beverage choices coffee, tea/iced tea, water.

Afternoon: Keynote Address. Our keynote speaker, Bryan Stevenson, is a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Mr. Stevenson, an acclaimed public interest attorney who has successfully argued cases in the United States Supreme Court, has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Under his leadership, the EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Mr. Stevenson and the EJI have initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge the legacy of racial inequality in America. Next, we will set out with our Group Leader on our first field trip as we walk to the nearby Rosa Parks Museum on the site where Mrs. Parks was arrested in 1955. This state-of-the-art facility is a memorial to civil rights icon Rosa Parks and lessons of the Montgomery bus boycott that achieved racial integration in local transportation and brought international attention to the civil rights movement. A docent will lead our exploration of interactive, multi-media exhibits.

Dinner: Groups will dine in different local restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. We are in the heart of Montgomery’s historic downtown, approximately two blocks from the Alabama River.

DAY
3
Tuskegee History Center, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee Airmen
Montgomery
B,L,D
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 40 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Walking up to 1 mile and standing at field trip sites; stairs to Oaks house second floor. Walking outside in between sites on field trips.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and ride to the town of Tuskegee with our Group Leader. We’ll stop at the Tuskegee History Center, which documents the accomplishments and historical events of three distinct cultures and peoples — Native American, European American, and African American — in Tuskegee, Macon County, and Alabama. We’ll ride on to Tuskegee University, founded in 1881, with Dr. Booker T. Washington as the first teacher when it was a one-room school housed in Butler Chapel AME Zion Church. With an appropriation of $2,000 by the state, it soon moved to the site of a former plantation and was known as the Normal School for Colored Teachers. Dr. Washington remained the President and driving force until his death in 1915, recruiting the best and brightest faculty he could find including George Washington Carver, who arrived in 1896 to head the Agriculture Department. We’ll visit two sites that are part of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site: the George Washington Carver Museum and The Oaks, Dr. Washington’s home. National Park Service staff will lead our explorations at the sites. While Carver’s innovations in agriculture, especially with peanuts, expanded Tuskegee’s standing throughout the country, he invented commercial by-products from many vegetables, always with an eye towards helping poor people, especially those in the black community. He sent teachers from the school to help local farmers learn modern techniques. The museum traces Carver’s growth and development from childhood slave days through his academic career with exhibits and artifacts from his life. The Oaks was built for Dr. Washington in 1899. Today, it is furnished in period antiques and reproductions, with low-wattage light bulbs such as would have been available at the time. The paint colors were developed by George Washington Carver. There are some original pieces in Dr. Washington’s office on the second floor, accessed by stairs only.

Lunch: In the Tuskegee University Tompkins Hall cafeteria, we’ll have a buffet lunch with many hot and cold items plus beverage choices of soft drinks and water included.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and begin our field trip with an audio-visual presentation. We’ll then have independent time for a self-directed exploration to learn about the role of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II and how their role in the war changed race relations in the United States. Due to prevailing attitudes, there had been only limited opportunities for African Americans to be part of the U.S. military forces, and in 1941, African Americans could not become pilots. Some believed they did not have the intellect, aptitude, or skills. Civil rights groups, with support from President Roosevelt, exerted tremendous pressure to change these realities and military leaders eventually agreed to conduct a small-scale experiment based at Tuskegee thanks to the Institute’s decision to offer aeronautical training. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first to complete their training and enter the Army Air Corps, followed by nearly 1,000 African American aviators. There were also bombardiers, control tower operators, medical personnel, meteorologists, navigators, radio operators, and many more. Their success and heroic service led to great strides when President Truman signed his executive order desegregating the military in 1948. We will return to Montgomery in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Groups will dine in different local restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Expert Lectures, Freedom Rider Museum, Civil Rights Memorial
Montgomery
B,L
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 5 miles, approximately 1 hour total. Walking up to 1 mile; walking and standing in museums, city streets and sidewalks; inclined sidewalk to enter Civil Rights Memorial. Sitting for two 1-hour lectures.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by staff from the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University for two lectures that will address important aspects of the civil rights movement. Our first lecturer, Dr. Dorothy Autrey, will discuss how the organizations of the civil rights movement were established, what they stood for, their role in the movement and how they have evolved or where they are today. After a short break, Dr. Janice Franklin will moderate a panel featuring Montgomery natives and civil rights leaders who were women and children during the civil rights movement. This panel will give insight into the perspectives of the women and children who played crucial supporting, and at time front line, roles in the struggle to achieve justice and equality for all.

Lunch: Hotel buffet.

Afternoon: We will take field trips by motorcoach to sites related to Montgomery’s civil rights movement. First, we’ll explore the Freedom Rides Museum, situated in the former Greyhound Bus Station where a white mob attacked the Freedom Riders on May 20, 1961. Although the Supreme Court had outlawed segregated transportation, the reality was very different. The Freedom Riders were black and white college students who planned to sit together and eat together in bus stations from Washington, DC to New Orleans as a direct, non-violent protest against local laws supporting segregation and signs marked “White Only” and “Colored.” Next, we will visit the Dexter Parsonage Museum, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his family lived between 1954 and 1960. Dr. King directed much of Montgomery’s early civil rights activities including the 1956 bus boycott from his office. After an audio-visual presentation, a museum expert will show us through exhibits that document the experience of 12 pastors who served the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The parsonage was bombed several times but has been restored to its appearance during Dr. King’s pastorate. Moving on, we will reach the Civil Rights Memorial. The names of 40 people recognized as martyrs for civil rights are inscribed on a large black granite circle designed by Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A flow of water was inspired by one of the lines from Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech citing the Prophet Amos:until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Inside the memorial building is the Wall of Tolerance that displays the names of more than half a million people who have pledged to take a stand against hate and work for justice and tolerance as a dynamic representation of the strength of the movement in America.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Birmingham Full-day Field Trip, Rev. Carolyn Maull McKinstry
Montgomery
B,L
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 90 miles, approximately 2 hours each way. Walking up to 2 blocks and standing approximately 1.5 hours. Seated 1 hour for lecture.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out by motorcoach for a full-day field trip in Birmingham. En route, we’ll watch a video about the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. Upon arrival in Birmingham, we’ll walk through Kelly Ingram Park, once a staging ground for demonstrations. It was here in May 1963 when police and firemen under the director of Public Safety Commissioner “Bull” Connor turned fire hoses and dogs on a crowd of children and students, one of the signal events that aroused indignation around the country and eventually led to desegregation of what was then known as America’s most segregated city. Today, sculptures depict heroes of the struggle and some of the haunting events people endured. Across the street, we’ll enter the Civil Rights Institute, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and an element of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. The Institute promotes a comprehensive understanding of the civil rights movement in Birmingham. We’ll view an audio-visual presentation followed by time for self-directed exploration.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a traditional “meat and three” buffet lunch featuring Southern soul food.

Afternoon: This afternoon, we will convene at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.This was the first black church in Birmingham, organized in 1873 as the First Colored Baptist Church. In the early 1960s, it became a key location for civil rights organizers, mass meetings, and rallies. The day became bloodier as more violence ensued. Police shot and killed a black teenager and another was shot by two white boys. The shock of the day’s events galvanized public opinion around the country and helped to promote passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We will be joined by Dr. Carolyn Maull McKinstry for a presentation. She lived while four of her friends were killed when a bomb exploded on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963. Dr. McKinstry is the author of “While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement.” We will hear her testimony and reflections. We will return to Montgomery after Dr. McKinstry’s address.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Legacy Museum, Peace & Justice Memorial, Sheyann Webb
Montgomery
B,L,D
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a museum shuttle; driving short distances. Walking 1 block, standing up to 3 hours at field trip sites throughout the day; city streets and sidewalks, incline.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk across the street from the hotel to the Legacy Museum of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) for a self-directed exploration. The museum’s focus is summarized as “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” and is situated near a former slave market. The building itself is on the site of a warehouse where slaves were kept. We will encounter vestiges of the slave trade, first-person accounts of enslaved people, the racial terrorism of lynching, how “Jim Crow” laws worked, and more on up to the era of mass incarceration. Please note that the museum has graphic images that some may find disturbing.

Lunch: Hotel buffet.

Afternoon: Next, we will visit the recently constructed National Memorial for Peace and Justice on the EJI campus via museum shuttle. This sobering structure is the first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved people, those terrorized by lynching, by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and those burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence. In documenting this history, EJI found that some six million black people fled the South over generations. We will explore at our own pace.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: We’ll convene in the hotel conference room for a presentation by Sheyann Webb-Christburg, author of “Selma, Lord, Selma.” She was one of the youngest civil rights activists in Selma. Dr. King called her the “smallest freedom fighter.” As a nine-year-old, she was among the protesters beaten and tear-gassed while attempting to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. As hundreds of policemen with billy clubs and dogs and state troopers on horseback attacked the marchers, she was rescued by Rev. Hosea Williams. We will hear how Sheyann’s life experiences led her to work with underprivileged youth in programs aimed at building self-confidence.

DAY
7
The March from Selma to Montgomery
Montgomery
B,L,D
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 54 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Walking 1.25 miles and standing at field trip sites. Those who prefer not to walk in the march reenactment may ride in the motorcoach.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our focus today is the series of campaigns, marches, and protests that took place in 1965 to win equal voting rights for African Americans. We will travel by motorcoach to Selma in Lowndes County with our Group Leader. We’ll stop first at the Lowndes Interpretive Center, a National Park Service site dedicated to those who sought the right to vote for all Americans, for an audio-visual presentation. During our self-directed exploration that follows, we will be able to recall key moments and individuals who died in the struggle for equality including Episcopalian seminarian Jonathan Daniels and Viola Liuzzo, shot while driving other civil rights activists home after a freedom march. We’ll also learn about the Tent City that grew up on this site to hold families dislodged by white landowners in the county. We’ll then ride on to Selma and Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church where we will meet one of the former “foot soldiers” — young people who took part in the peaceful marches and protests. We’ll learn about the church’s role in preparations for the planned march to Montgomery on March 7, 1965, that became known as Bloody Sunday, and how it felt to be part of that experience. The church also served as a refuge for injured marchers.

Lunch: In church fellowship halls, we’ll have box lunches with members of the local community.

Afternoon: Before departing Selma, we will have an opportunity to walk across the 1,248-foot length of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We’ll contemplate how it must have felt, arriving at the rise of the bridge’s midpoint, when the line of sheriff’s deputies and state police suddenly came into view. At the foot of the bridge, we will reboard the motorcoach for the return drive back to our hotel, retracing the marches from Selma to Montgomery. There were three marches that set out to cross the bridge on the route from Selma to Montgomery. The first, on March 7, became known as Bloody Sunday. On the second attempt, March 9, the marchers turned back before confronting the police, but that night a group of ministers who had been involved in the march were attacked and beaten. Rev. James Reeb later died of head wounds. After another national outcry, the third attempt, on March 21, was protected by federal marshals and FBI agents. The marchers achieved their goal of reaching the Alabama state capitol on March 25. At 5:30 p.m., we will take part in a special, Road Scholar organized reenactment of the final part of that third march when, after five days of walking the full 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators the last mile up Dexter Avenue to the steps of the Alabama State House. We’ll end the reenactment by walking to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Our own march will close with a final message as our learning journey culminates in retracing key moments of the civil rights movement in Alabama.

Dinner: We’ll walk two blocks to the Alabama Activities Center, we will have a plated meal including a glass of wine or beer, plus coffee, iced tea, water. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner. We’ll return to the hotel on foot.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
Montgomery
B

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: For those who purchased airfare through Road Scholar, transfers to Montgomery Regional Airport are provided for included flight home. Hotel check-out is 11:00 AM. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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