The following is from the May 29, 2007, edition of CNN's Student News
JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) – The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated just one day before Sharon Matlock turned 10.
Christina blogged about her experiences as part of an SMU group who spent spring break 2007 journeying through the Deep South learning more about the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage teaches lessons about America's racist past and reveals the courage and hope of those who dared to challenge it. Read Christina's blog.
Her birthday brought gifts and her mother's tears, and ever since she has tried to understand the hatred and violence of those times.
Now 49 and a college staff member, Matlock recently joined professors and students on a five-state trip to civil rights landmarks to find answers.
More and more colleges are leading trips through the South -- to cities such as Memphis, where King was shot in 1968, Little Rock, Arkansas, Atlanta, Selma, Alabama, and Jackson -- to help students understand the long, bitter struggle for equality.
The trips bring events of that period to life and provide students with insights they could not get in a classroom, say officials of Southern Methodist University, sponsor of the tour Matlock joined.
"Seeing Medgar Evers' house was sobering because we saw how that family had to live back in that time," said Matlock, describing the home where the Mississippi NAACP field secretary was fatally shot. It is in Jackson, the tour's first stop. "The house was designed with no front door. They had to live on the floor. They were prisoners in their home."
In 2005, SMU created its Civil Rights Pilgrimage Travel Seminar, which takes students during spring break to historical sites. Matlock, who works in the university's Human Resources department, traveled with 40 others, including four from another Dallas school, historically black Paul Quinn College. Their chartered bus stopped in eight cities over eight days.
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