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March 29, 2005


LEWISBURG, Pa. — A group of 18 students and staff members from Bucknell University participated in "Civil Rights: The Unfinished Journey," as an alternative to the usual spring break vacation activities.

According to Janice Butler, director of the Service-Learning program at Bucknell, the group spent time in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and Oxford, Miss., to learn about the ways in which both ordinary citizens and national figures worked to combat racism and integrate schools and public accommodations in the sixties.

"Not only did they visit historical sites such as Slave Haven, a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves, and the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was slain April 4, 1968, but they also got to speak with a number of individuals who had witnessed or participated in important events," she said.

"Reverend Billy Kyles, who spent the last hour of Dr. King's life with him, spoke to us about King and his legacy in an inspirational talk. Journalism professor Curtis Wilkie recounted his experience as a student during the integration of Ole Miss when national troops were required to resist mob violence aimed at preventing the first African-American student from enrolling at the university.

"Elaine Turner, the tour guide at Slave Haven, also spoke about her participation as a college student in the historic March from Montgomery to Selma, Ala., to protest efforts that kept Black people in the state from registering to vote," she said.

In addition to these educational experiences, the delegation participated in service efforts in Memphis. The group partnered with students from Rhodes College and Idlewild Presbyterian Church to provide free meals to homeless and poor individuals in the community.

Bucknell volunteers also worked at three different sites: one group worked at Memphis Boystown and Youth Villages, providing workshops and recreation for abused children in a residential setting; another group spent time with sick children and their families at Le Bonheur Hospital, and the final group planned and painted a mural depicting sites of the city at FirstWorks, a program by the First United Methodist Church helping individuals transition from public assistance to paid employment.

"The group also had some fun, visiting the former STAX recording studio and museum of soul, Beale Street, famous for the Blues, and Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. On Friday, all of the students opted to watch the Bucknell-Kansas basketball game crowded around a sports bar, making quite an impression on the other patrons," said Butler.

Student participants were: first-year students Nicole Bojanowski, Buffalo, N.Y., Saskia Madlener, East Hampton, N.Y., originally from Belgium, and Alexandra Madsen, Clayton, Calif.; sophomore Jitu Patel, Scranton, originally from India; juniors Benjamin Reiter, Allentown, Pa., Ryan Whitfield, Atlanta, Ga., and Hyo Seok Yoon, Long Island, N.Y., originally from South Korea; and seniors Abram Harris, Philadelphia, originally from Liberia, Elizabeth Kidney, Kentfield, Calif., Kanene Weston, New York City, and Gregory Yankee, Detroit, Mich., as well as Audrey Campigny, an exchange student from France.

Staff participants were: Butler, Norlisha Crawford, assistant professor of English, Kelly Finley, residential college coordinator, Shauna Irwin, assistant director of Greek life, Michael James, associate professor of political science, and Bonnie Shinn, residential life coordinator.

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Bucknell students view Civil Rights Archives at the University of Mississippi

Bucknell volunteers met with Rev. Billy Kyles

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