By Karen A. Love
For Motor City Muckraker
With the generous support of DTE, 45 Detroit area students participated in the 2016 annual Franklin Wright Settlement annual college tour, which afforded them the opportunity to visit historical black colleges (HBCU’s), such as Morehouse & Clark in Atlanta and Tuskegee University in Alabama. The students also had the opportunity to visit the Center for Civil Rights Museum and the King Center in Atlanta.
This year’s college tour culminated with an historic walk across the Selma to Montgomery National Bridge, now marked as part of an historic trail where 51 years ago young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling in anticipation of the walk that would forever be etched in their memories and in their hearts. These were young folks who had been trained in tactics of non-violence and the right way to protect themselves when and if they were attacked. They and the other marchers were brutally confronted with dogs, bully clubs, tear gas and gun shots on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, as the world watched.
“It is so important that we connect our children to their history,” Monique Marks, president and CEO of Franklin Wright said. “We need them to understand who they are and the struggles that have gone on before them. This college tour accomplishes the goal of exposing children to higher education and connecting them to one of the most important episodes in American history. They have been profoundly changed in a very positive way by this experience. Franklin Wright Settlements is committed to continuously engaging our children in a way that exposes them to a world far beyond the four corners of their neighborhoods.”
Unlike those young folk who took part in the historic walk over 50 years ago, the 45 Detroit students met with no resistance. No flashing lights, police cars, and helmeted troopers carrying shot guns blocking their way. Hopefully they will forever be mindful that the march is not finished, that they walked in the footprints of someone who got them over that bridge, and were standing in the footprints of someone, a traveler who paved the way.
As President Obama so eloquently said, “We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar. And we will not grow weary. For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.”
A Detroit native, esteemed photographer and former music producer for BET Networks, Montez Miller has devoted her life to social change and equality. What would be deemed as some of her most noble work, Montez used photography and videography to influence underprivileged youth by documenting their experience on black college tours.