Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2014

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B M & T ••• September/October 2014 ••• 15 Civil Rights Center and Museum (ICRCM) located in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum (CCHRM) located in Atlanta, Georgia. International Civil Rights Center and Museum Approximately 15 years ago, I traveled to Greensboro to locate the old F.W. Woolworth store where four students from North Carolina A&T State College (NC A&T) staged a sit-in (1960) in their efforts to integrate the lunch counter. Instead, I found what appeared to be an office with a historic maker identifying this site as the former F.W. Woolworth building. Today, the ICRCM has replaced the office and re-enacts the story of these four brave col- lege students along with their supporters who led a campaign of passive resistance during this turbulent time. This campaign for equity gained momentum throughout the country, often with the support of white students' partici- pation. Energized by the vitality of the youth, this historic event eventually led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I was really impressed with our docent Brandon Brockington, a recent graduate of NC A&T, who was enthusias- tic and well informed about the Civil Rights Movement. Technology was incorporated in many of the interactive exhibits and period artifacts were available to view. One particular artifact that stood out was a coke machine in which one side was used for whites and the other side by the colored population. Whites were charged five cents for a bottle of coke and coloreds ten cents. I had not heard about this injudicious idea until now and since shared this information with friends. Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum Recently opened, the Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta. It is surrounded by CNN, the Atlanta Aquarium and Coca Cola's headquarters. Here one will find an array of technological exhibits addressing the Civil Rights Movement as well as modern day international human rights issues. The gallery on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was most memorable. Many museums feature Dr. King as the iconic civil rights leader but the CCHRM places emphasis on his human qual- ities that made him an admirable gentleman. Visitors can view his original writings and from them understand his thought process, his goals and strategies, and his efforts to present himself with clarity and conviction. Visitors can also gain a better understanding of a typical day for Dr. King and his daily sacri- fices. This included time away from his family, working with limited resources, and expectation of an impending death. While viewing King's work, I also thought about how some young adults and our chil- dren do not have a clue as to why they are able to enjoy many of the basic accommodations they are privy to today. I wish I could load up several buses of teenagers to visit this site and study Dr. King's origi- nal works. It would be my hope that they will be inspired to be advocates for their communities. During our trip, Shirley and Marlon would sometimes provide us with speakers who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Rev. Robert S. Graetz, a white minister to an all black Lutheran church in Montgomery, Alabama and his wife, Jennie. Rev. Graetz shared with the group his experiences working with Dr. King and Rosa Parks in helping to desegregate the Montgomery public bus system. During the boycott he served as secretary to the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization formed to support the boycott. Throughout this blustery period, he and his family were constantly harassed and their home was bombed several times. I really admired this man the moment I met him but even more so after I read his book, A White Preacher's Memoir. The courage and the endurance he displayed during times of indifference highlighted the power of the Lt to Rt Jordana Smith, Brittani Holley, Elona Harris at Center for Civil and Human Rights

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