Civil rights tour; film on big four of Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun

Would you like to learn about the civil rights movement on a tour with people who experienced it firsthand?

Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., is leading such a tour, on a bus that will travel down from Pennsylvania through North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and into parts of Ohio from June 7-15.

On this trip, participants will meet with Minniejean Brown Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine students who integrated Central High School in that Arkansas city; the Rev. Billy Kyles, who witnessed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and who was with the civil rights leader in his final hour; Juanita Abernathy, widow of the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, who worked alongside King and was his confidant; Chris McNair, father of Denise McNair, one of the four little girls who died in the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church; Arlam Carr Jr., son of the late Johnnie Carr (she died Feb. 23), who was president of the Montgomery (Ala.) Improvement Association and friend to Rosa Parks.

The tour, which will stop at museums, including Alex Haley's house in Nashville, Tenn., and churches, is in its seventh year, said Todd Allen, a professor at Geneva College, which is 50 miles north of Pittsburgh.

"We have people ages 8 up to their 70s. People have come from as far as Hawaii and California to go on the tour. We have blacks and whites," Allen said. "It's really a cross section of people."

The cost of the tour is $800 double occupancy and $950 for single occupancy. It includes transportation and lodging.

While there are stops for meals at local restaurants along the way, the cost of dining is not included in the fee for the trip. For more information, call Todd Allen at 724-622-0858 or 724-847-6783 or go to

'Power' film

Journey Entertainment is filming a documentary on the lives of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy.

The film is pegged to the fact that these four black women are the top ranking officials in a major U.S. city.

LaVern Whitt, a Baltimore native and the film's producer, previewed seven minutes of Women in Power in February at the Senator Theatre. Her crew began shooting late last year. A release date has not been set.

Whitt, a former Hollywood stuntwoman who has doubled for Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg, is producing the project with another Baltimore native -- actress Penny Johnson Jerald.

Whitt said she got the idea for the documentary after talking to a cousin who lives in the Baltimore area.

The movie will showcase the women and their lives but not the controversies that arise from being in public office, Whitt said.

"We want to celebrate their historical impact," she said. "It's amazing that this has happened."

To learn more about LaVern Whitt and Journey Entertainment, go to

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