Civil Rights Tour

With Martin Luther King Day around the corner, we’ve been thinking about how we can commemorate the day a little differently than usual.  Our friend and frequent collaborator, Director of Pride in Faith and Program Director of the Maryland Black Family Alliance Lea Gilmore, suggested we cover a civil rights tour that she is taking part in.  We decided this would be a great story to build a show around, which we’ll host from 5-6pm on The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM on Martin Luther King Day, January 19th.

The trip began in Atlanta yesterday, and will be on the road through this Sunday.  Here’s a dispatch from trip participant Charlie Collyer, professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, where he also works with the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies.


Lawrence Carter speaking

part of the group at the King Center


Here’s a brief summary of Thursday on the tour.

Our group gathered at the Atlanta airport this morning.  The group comes from all over – Carroll County MD, Baltimore, Rhode Island, California, Seattle, Texas, and a few other places.  A happy, upbeat mood took hold, as friends introduced friends and strangers introduced themselves, becoming friends quickly.

We boarded a tour bus and drove to the King Center complex.  We had an hour or so to explore the museum (a National Parks Service site) and visit the King Center itself.  The King Center bookstore is the best place for teachers to find good source material on civil rights history.

There is never enough time at any of the stops on a civil rights tour.  We were rounded up and rode the bus again to Morehouse College, where Dr. King once studied as an undergraduate.  There, by chance, we met Lawrence Carter, for 30 years the Dean of Morehouse’s Chapel.  Lawrence gave us a riveting hour off the cuff – the story of Morehouse and its distinguished place in American history, its traditions and famous alumni.  Morehouse was the place where the Gandhian tradition of nonviolence connects to the King tradition: Gandhi to Howard Thurman (from Morehouse, on a visit to India in the 30s) to Mordecai Johnson (at Morehouse, lecturing on Gandhi just after his death) to King (at Morehouse, listening to Johnson and then buying a handful of books on Gandhi).

More connections today: Lawrence Carter did not have us on his schedule, but came down to meet the group upon hearing that his old colleage Dr. Bernard LaFayette was leading the tour.  We go in to the locked Chapel thanks to Thomas Coverson, Dr. LaFayette’s nephew, who is a freshman at Morehouse.  And so it goes.  Tomorrow we are off to Alabama, with a first stop in Tuskegee.

– Charlie Collyer


Sookyung Shutoff thanking Lawrence Carter on behalf of the group