Students spending fall break visiting civil rights landmarks, learning about slavery

Statement on museum wall

A History major, Hannah Ford ’24 (Lebanon, Ohio) wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to visit some of the most iconic Civil Rights’ locations.

“Learning about our past is crucial to having a thorough understanding of our present, which is why I’m glad the College is giving students a chance to learn more in an engaging environment,” Ford said.

Ford is one of 33 students and four administrators who will travel from the College to Alabama on Wednesday, October 19th and return on Sunday, October 23rd. The trip will allow the participants to explore black slavery and the Civil Rights Movement as they visit places like the Legacy Museum and the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

An anonymous donor is funding the entire cost of the trip.

“I feel like this is an amazing opportunity to connect students to core values of the College, when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice, demonstrated by Samuel Hall, valedictorian of Marietta College’s first graduating class of 1838,” said Tony Mayle, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Diversity & Inclusion. “Samuel helped form the Washington County Anti-Slavery Society in 1836. It will also be a great opportunity to know the role of the Marietta community and its connection to the Ohio River, during Black Slavery and the persistence for freedom by those held in bondage.”

Mayle said the trip to Montgomery will also include visits to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Selma Interpretive Center, and the Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Museum and Memorial.

“This will help everyone to understand the significance of waterways for the Institution of Black slavery, Rosa Parks Museum, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and Freedom Riders museum,” Mayle said. “The purpose of this trip is to explore the centuries-long history of Black life in America. Our exploration will begin with America’s history of Black slavery, followed by the struggles for abolition and emancipation, and eventually the battle for civil rights, which continues even today.”

Ford heard about the trip through a friend who is also attending.

“Because of my interest in history, I decided that it would be a really interesting and enriching experience,” Ford said. “Since the trip is completely paid for by an alumni sponsor, it has enabled a lot of students to be able to attend. … I am very excited for the opportunity, and I think it will be a great way to spend the fall break.”

Mayle added that the trip is not intended to be an exhaustive exploration of all the sites associated with Black history in Montgomery, but the program will show how the fight for equality and justice has spanned many centuries and touched every corner of the country.

The students have participated in some pre-trip discussions to help introduce some of the history to them before the five-day trip to Montgomery. The students will also write a reflection upon their return to Marietta and will finally participate in a post-trip presentation to campus.