Black Votes Matter tour returns in July

Preston Love Jr. said the visit civil rights landmarks could provide a better understanding of the struggle for equality.
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 3:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Students and young adults will again be able to take the Black Votes Matter Black History Tour after COVID-19 forced organizers to cancel last year’s event.

For the past few summers, Preston Love Jr. has taken dozens of young people on a tour of southern states to lean about Black history and the Civil Rights Movement.

This year, young people will travel south to visit civil rights landmarks and discuss the stories of civil rights leaders, some with local connections. The tour is set from July 11-18.

Love said the tour helps area youth better understand Black history and the Civil Rights Movement.

“The purpose of the tour is to develop our youth who know, quite frankly, little about their history — all races not knowing about their history and their culture,” he said.

Love said that in light of the last summer social justice protests, this year’s trip to visit civil rights landmarks could provide a better understanding of the struggle for equality, giving this year’s tour will have a different feel.

“Activism for activism’s sake is nonsense... But activism based on knowledge and pain and struggles...” Love said. “This is a time like never before where we want to provide a perspective on the struggles and history of a people that should be inspiring.”

Omaha is filled with young people still looking for answers, Love said, and understanding where you’ve been could be helpful.

“I still do believe we are fighting for some of the same issues... You look at the world today, we’re still going through some of the same, if not similar, things that my great ancestors went through,” he said. “I do believe we have come a long way since my great-grandfather’s time, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Montel Jones Jr. was one of the first students to take the Black history tour. He said it made him realize what he learned in school about Black history was limited.

“When it comes to February — Black History Month — we learn about the same Dr. Martin Luther King (Jr.) and Rosa Parks. The same one-twos — ‘the basic,’ is what I call it,” Jones said. “But they don’t teach us much about Emmett Till. They don’t teach us much about what we really need to know.”

Love takes a diverse group of students from youth organizations across the Omaha-metro area on the tour. Ethan Shaffer was a staff member when he took the trip south.

“To see how it has affected history and how much I didn’t learn in school — and the knowledge I took back from it is something I think everybody should experience at least once in their life,” Shaffer said.

Students who take the trip come from local youth organizations. Participants will be able to take the trip for free, and will be required to be vaccinated.

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