By: Michael Lander
He was a man with a dream who helped to awaken a nation,...... a nation, which had not yet fully extended to each and every individual the ideals of equality, justice, and freedom upon which it had been founded.
This man, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the iconic leaders of the Civil Rights movement and next year, on April 4, 2018, a diverse group of people are coming together for a 3-day bike ride to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.
This 3-day, 297-mile bike ride, in honor of Dr. King and his dream, known as “Civil Rides,” will begin at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and will end in Jackson, Miss. on Friday, April 6.
The ride is being done to raise awareness about the persistent poverty in rural America and the proceeds from this event will go to improve food delivery and in how communities and religious institutions address poverty issues in rural America.
The ride is being hosted by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's, (CBF's), rural development coalition, Together for Hope, which works to alleviate poverty through asset-based community development, and Out Hunger, which is focused on ending hunger.
Together for Hope works with local partners to strengthen communities from within and providing them with a true path out of poverty.
The ride is also endorsed by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, Simmons College, Memphis Brand Initiative, and The Angela Project, which is a three-year project commemorating the 400th anniversary of Black enslavement in America with the first African brought to the America’s as a slave in 1619.
There will be rest stops, full SAG (with mechanics, light gear, or a ride) meals, hotels, and evening events for those who wish to attend.
Participants will have the option of riding all or part of the route each day and there will be three main riding groups for slower, medium, and faster paced cyclists.
Riders have a $900 entry fee (for meals, hotels, SAG, etc.) and each has a co-responsibility to raise $1,500, altogether, that event organizers will assist them in reaching.
Click here to find out more about the ride and to register for it.
For many, poverty is a modern day Civil Rights issue that disproportionately impacts minorities in our country and it was a part of Dr. King’s mission with his Poor People’s Campaign in 1968.
Those who have this view often find inspiration from Dr. King, and his vision, and his belief that when any of our brothers and sisters suffer from inequity and the oppressiveness of poverty, we all suffer because, as he said, “an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.”
“With Dr. King’s emphasis in the Poor People’s Campaign, and the work being done in Together for Hope, which directly corresponds with his dream of ending poverty, the Civil Rides will raise awareness and money for our work across the country,” Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker said.
|This display, at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis,|
depicts the Memphis Sanitation Worker's Strike that brought
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the city on April 3, 1968. He
was killed the following day at the Lorraine Motel.
Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker is the Field Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Mississippi and the National Director for Together for Hope.
“Our focus on alleviating persistent rural poverty is in keeping with so much of Dr. King’s teachings and, as we shift scale from the 20 poorest counties in America to the 301 counties of persistent rural poverty, efforts like Civil Rides will help us in our endeavor,” Coker said.
“We are working hard to have a diverse group of riders and are hopeful that the experience of this event will build real relationships and that it will honor Dr. King because it embodies his dream of coming together for a common cause and in an inextricable relationship of mutuality,” he said.
While Coker believes that Dr. King’s dream has not yet been completely fulfilled, he does see some hope and promise in events like Civil Rides.
“With a truly diverse group of people riding their bikes from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., following in the steps of Dr. King, in an attempt to raise money and to raise awareness about poverty, without any opposition, and the support of people across racial lines, it is a testimony to how Dr. King helped to change America,” Coker said.
Coker hopes with this ride, and other efforts, that it will bridge the gap between capacity and opportunity.
“The narrative of blaming the poor for being poor is not only tired and worn out, it is a lie. That lie has piled insult on to injury for decades,” Coker said.
“People who live in poverty are the ones who have ideas about how to move forward. They are human beings created and loved by God just like everyone else. They just happen to have been born and live in rural places that the general public has forgotten, if not forsaken. We ride for these brothers and sisters,” he said.
Those who wish to support or sponsor participants in Civil Rides, should contact the Founder and Executive Director of Out Hunger, Rand Jenkins, via email, at: mailto:email@example.com.
You can also keep up-to-date on any news or developments about the ride by either liking Out Hunger on facebook or by following them on twitter.