Delta State University hosted Civil Rides on campus April 5-6 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil Rides was a three-day group bicycle ride from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi. The trek followed the civil rights footsteps of King.
The purpose of the ride was to raise awareness around persistent rural poverty in America, just as King did with the Poor People’s Campaign. Additionally, the event advocated for racial justice and healing, and created a space for racial discourse and dialogue.
Civil Rides was organized and sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Together for Hope, and Out Hunger. Participants in the ride came from Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Mississippi.
Delta State also sponsored the campus visit as a post-conference activity linked to Delta State’s annual Winning the Race race relations conference, which took place March 26-27. Along with WTR, other campus sponsors included the DSU Quality Enhancement Plan, DSU Diversity Committee and Delta Center for Culture and Learning .
Delta State hosted the riders for a meet-and-greet opportunity on April 4, along with a reception and information session in the Baioni Conference Center. Dr. Jason Coker with Civil Rides shared a summary of their efforts, and participants were shown student videos created at the Lens Collective workshop, housed on campus by the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.
On April 5, the university provided the riders with a nutritious breakfast, followed by a press conference at the Student Union as a sendoff for the bikers as they continued their 200-mile journey.
Following the press conference, Civil Rides bikers, Delta State riders, and President William N. LaForge got on their bikes for a ceremonial exit from campus. Participants took off from the Student Union and traveled down Court Street into downtown Cleveland.
The group finished at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum with a celebratory festival.
Dr. Temika Simmons, co-chair of this year’s Winning the Race conference, said the event was a fitting followup to the race relations conference.
“It was an honor to partner with Dr. Jason Coker, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Out Hunger in support of Civil Rides,” said Simmons. “Many of our students come from the communities the rides are intended to support. The Winning the Race conference is committed to continuing its work within and beyond Delta-area communities by partnering and supporting area initiatives that seek to combat racial inequities, fight for social justice, and to improve the condition of our communities. It was a privilege to host Civil Rides in commemoration of the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We look forward to continuing this partnership in the fight against rural poverty.”
For more information on Civil Rides, visit https://www.civilrides.com.
To learn more about Winning the Race, visit https://www.deltastate.edu/winning-the-race.