Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 13, 2018

Memphis Group Pic Zander

The trip attendees gather outside the Lorraine Motel, which is now the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. Though led by the Peace Studies program, students of all majors and fields were invited to attend the trip in early March.

Photo by Zander Willoughby

Students Travel to Memphis to Commemorate MLK's Assassination

Virginia Rendler 

On March 9, 2018, a cohort of Manchester University students and alumni boarded a charter bus headed to Memphis, TN, as part of the remembrance events on campus for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

The students and alumni first visited the National Civil Rights Museum. Established in 1991, the museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The motel has been converted into a museum dedicated to King’s legacy and the civil rights movement.

Manchester University alumna and current staff member, Tina Rieman ’94, said that her visit to the museum was the highlight of the trip. “My favorite moment was watching two parents describing the Civil Rights Movement to their young children in the National Civil Rights Museum,” she said. “They were white parents who clearly felt passionately about educating their kids about racism and injustice. At the time, I was standing in the room dedicated to the March on Washington. There was a video of Martin Luther King Jr. giving his speech on a repeating loop. It was all very moving, and I got tears in my eyes.

“My parents were also white parents who felt passionately about educating their kids about racism and injustice,” she continued. “They were involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, participated in the Poor People’s Campaign, lived in Resurrection City and got arrested multiple times for various acts of non-violent civil disobedience.” Rieman said the trip was a way for her to connect with her parents and their passionate dedication to justice.

Jesse Langdon, peace studies and political science major, said that the museum was an incredibly humbling experience. “The museum really put you in history,” Langdon said. “Having the opportunity to be in the room where King was before he was assassinated was incredibly powerful. It was a monument to King’s legacy that included the viewer in the story.”

The students and alumni also visited the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, a museum that connected civil rights and soul music. “It was amazing to see a glimpse into American music history that we don’t often hear about,” said Sydney Abbott, software engineering major. “I wasn’t aware of these stories of revolution in music before visiting the museum.”

Peace studies majors, minors, and those not connected at all to the program were also welcome to attend the trip. Rieman was not a major or minor when she attended Manchester in the 90s, but went on trips with the peace studies program then as well as now. “I always appreciated what I learned and was greatly impacted by those events,” she said. “I appreciated how inclusive and accepting people were then and now. I was grateful for this opportunity to join another peace studies trip!”