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Civil Rights journey teaches history to Wake Forest residents

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WAKE FOREST — Locals say a recent group trip to historic Civil Rights era sites in Alabama and Georgia was transformative.

The Wake Forest Martin Luther King committee organized the trip earlier this month to historical sites connected to King’s life in Atlanta, Georgia and in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. The Civil Rights Freedom Trail Tour marked the 25th anniversary of the Wake Forest MLK committee.

Among the team leaders who made the trip were Helen Holt of Wake Forest.

“I grew up in North Carolina as a privileged white child in the 1950s and 60s segregated Jim Crow South,” Holt wrote in an email. “When Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a crowded Montgomery city bus, sparking a year-long and ultimately successful boycott by other African American workers to end bus segregation, I was in elementary school.”

The group was led by Rev. Ken Steigler and James and Margo Grant.

The trip began March 2 with a bus ride to Atlanta and a visit to Ebenezer Baptist Church, pastored by King’s grandfather and father, and where King sometimes preached. The trip continued to the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery and the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, among other locations.

Holt said many of the major events of the Civil Rights Movement happened as she was growing up, but she didn’t learn to appreciate their significance until much later.

“Of all of these large, historical events, I was somewhat aware, but of the shameful and often horrifying details, particularly heinous in the Deep South, I had no clue,” Holt said. “All of this context became painfully clear during our four day sojourn upon the Civil Rights Trail blazed by seekers of justice.”