Civil Rights and Social Change Study Trip

A 5-day experiential learning trip to Little Rock and Memphis

Little Rock

The Eisenhower Institute’s Civil Rights and Social Change study trip is a journey through time, connecting people, places, and moments of the civil rights era to the legacy of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and today’s efforts at cultural renaissance, urban renewal, and policy change. This five-day travel opportunity takes students to the heart of the Civil Rights Movement for an intensive firsthand look at efforts to integrate the South and elevate those in poverty.

The experience begins in Memphis, where we will tour the National Civil Rights Museum and stand on the motel balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King was shot while organizing sanitation workers. That site launches our look at Dr. King’s efforts to urge President Eisenhower to take a bolder, more public stand against racism. Through conversations with local experts and small-group discussions, students consider whether the 1957 Civil Rights Act that Eisenhower signed provided a foundation for racial advancement and social justice.

From there, our traveling classroom heads west to Little Rock to examine the tumultuous desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, that prompted Eisenhower to send federal troops to enforce Brown v. Board of Education. We’ll then look at how continuing segregation has impacted education, housing, culture and the economic development of Black communities.

This experience, previously available only to students in our Inside Civil Rights program, is now open by application to all Gettysburg students who seek a greater understanding of the forces driving and resisting social change.

The trip will be co-facilitated by Kevin Lavery and Tracie Potts, and is a collaborative project with the Garthwait Leadership Center, the Center for Public Service, and the Office of Multicultural Engagement.


  • Explore the experiences of students, activists, and policymakers involved in the integration of Little Rock Central High School.
  • Study the impact of urban renewal on Black communities through case studies of Beale Street in Memphis and West 9th Street in Little Rock.
  • Visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Applications are now closed.