Civil Rights Bus Tour- Day Zero

On Sunday, March 6th, I am leaving on a six day, five night bus tour through the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, and Little Rock. The tour is a part of Max Krochmal and Emily Farris’ co-taught class, “The Civil Rights Movement.” Max, a History professor at Texas Christian University, and Emily, a Political Science professor there, teamed together to form this class, though Max has taught this class and had a bus tour for multiple years now. I signed up for this class a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric and Composition because I have interests in the civil rights history and have researched much of the Chicano/a Civil Rights movement (and the United Farm Workers). As a scholar, I want to know more about the civil rights movement, and I feel my high school experience (as many other high school experiences) did not give me the history I deserved. Since I am interested in public memory, and the civil rights movement is one of the most mythologized social movements and moments in American history, I knew I needed this class. And fortunately for me, TCU generously paid for my tuition and the bus tour costs as well.

First, before we move forward, let’s take a look at our itinerary:

Time Topic/Destination  
Sunday Night Trip beginning & Dinner with Jerry Mitchell, reporter for the Clarion-Ledger  
Monday Morning COFO Headquarters and Jackson State walking tour (John R. Lynch Street Walking Tour (Masonic Temple, Gallery1, Gibbs-Green Plaza, Ayer Hall – Margaret Walker Center, Rose E. McCoy Auditorium)  
Monday Mid-Day Talk with veterans – Mrs. Flonzie Brown Wright, Mr. Hollis Watkins, Mrs. Ineva Mae Pittman, Mr. MacArthur Cotton  
Monday Afternoon Driving Tour in Jackson (Old Jackson Municipal Library, Greyhound Bus Station, State Fairgrounds, Farish Street, Tougaloo College, Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center) and Medgar Evers house  
Tuesday Morning Delta trip stops (Greenwood, Money, Ruleville, Mound Bayou, Cleveland) with Mr. Charles McLaurin  
Tuesday Afternoon Delta trip stops (Indianola, Greenville, Belzoni, Sumner, Drew, Glendora) with Mr. Charles McLaurin  
Wednesday Morning Ole Miss – Oxford Lyceum, Meredith Monument, and meeting with Jarod Roll, Charles Eagles, J.T. Thomas and students  
Wednesday Afternoon Mid-South Peace & Justice Center in Memphis  
Thursday Morning National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel  
Thursday Afternoon AFSCME Panel with Mr. Baxter Leach, Alvin Turner, and Mr. Nickleberry and Heritage tour of Memphis Civil Rights Stops (Mason Temple, Mountaintop Sculpture, Clayborn Temple, Slave Market District, Sit-in locations, Route of Dr. King’s last march)  
Friday Mid-Day Little Rock Central High School and trip ending

We are first heading to Jackson on Sunday and will spend much of Sunday on Jackson State’s campus and around the city. Tuesday we will be touring the Mississippi Delta, and Wednesday we will be on Ole Miss’ campus. The final few days of the trip we head up to Memphis and then pass through Little Rock on our way home Friday. Overall, we plan to visit many of the civil rights museums, historical markers, and sites of intrigue across these parts of the South. Our days will be pretty jam-packed, but I expect it to be informative as well.

As a scholar, I am interested in two different sets of rhetorical relationships between the public/the State and civil rights history. First, I want to learn more about how violence is memorialized/not memorialized at some of these sites. While many of us think of the civil rights movement as being the epitome of “nonviolent protest,” much historical scholarship, and especially local studies scholarship, has demonstrated the importance of violence and self-defense in the movement. Since we are visiting a few sites where violence is publicly remembered, like on the Jackson State and Ole Miss campuses and at the Lorraine Motel, I want to see how these sites record their histories of violence. Do they acknowledge them? Do they keep them in the background? Since these sites obviously benefit from violence, I want to see how they rhetorically position themselves in relation to it.

Secondly, I am interested in the ways that places like the Mississippi Delta promote civil rights tourism in the likes of say, Jazz history tourism. I have heard that the Delta has more colorful, better placed signs for their Jazz history tour than the civil rights tour. I am not sure if this is true or not, or if I will be able to visually see these differences from the road, but I hope to capture how these small towns and the state of Mississippi illustrate their history for visitors.

freedom1

While these are not the only things I will be recording on my trip, these are the two research questions I am invested in as the tour begins.Throughout this trip, I will be posting pictures, thoughts, and scholarly intrigues on a nightly basis on my blog. The purpose of this blog is to detail my adventures, my new knowledge, and my emotional experiences at many of these sites. While I am not sure when I can post each night, I hope to go to bed after giving a brief write-up of the day’s activities and events. So follow my blog and keep an eye out for me!

 

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