Interviews Archive/April 2012
Updated March 25, 2013
Greensboro Slavery to Civil Rights Tour™
Interview with the Creator!
By Staff/Trend Magazine Online™
We were bursting with excitement when we scheduled our first Greensboro Slavery to Civil Rights Tour™ a few years ago. The escort on this first trip was our very own Tour Director Jay Whipple who too was personally anticipating this journey back in time as he has heard and studied much about the Greensboro sit ins that were the impetus to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. We conduct an annual QCT Charlotte Pilgrimage Tour™ each February – Black History Month – where we visit three existing Slave cemeteries and a former Slave church as a recreation of the original tour conducted in August of 1998 for folks that walked – mostly – from Massachusetts to New Orleans where they boarded a ship for West Africa.
This trip, however, was extended to include events that shaped our country nearly 100 years later. The day long venture departs Charlotte at 8 A.M. for the 1 ½ -hour drive to Greensboro, NC, where they are given a brief respite before being treated to a Black History Tour by an area Step-On Guide. This tour takes you by several local historically Black Colleges and Universities like North Carolina A & T (Agricultural and Technical) and Bennett College. Also included are sites that were used as part of the Underground Railroad network, and some general history of the Gate City. Before I get into too much more details about this historic trip, let’s query our director about his personal experience on the trip:
Staff: How long have you been with Queen City Tours®
Jay: I have been here since the very beginning in 1993.
Staff: What are your official title; and your duties and responsibilities?
Jay: I am responsible for the day-to-day operations as well as new tour development..
Staff: How long have you been developing tours?
Jay: Since the very beginning in 1993.
Staff: What was the first tour that you developed?
Jay: I developed Charlotte’s first Black/African-American Heritage Tour™ in 1992.
Staff: How is that tour doing today?
Jay: That tour is very popular with family reunions especially in the summer months when most families reunite.
Staff: What other tours have you developed?
Jay: A Charlotte City Tour, Ghost Tour, Pilgrimage Tour, Women's History Tour; Church Tour, Sports Tour, Museum Tour, to name a few.
Staff: Did you develop the Greensboro tour?
Jay: Yes, in fact I did.
Staff: How long did it take?
Jay: Typically these type tours [one day] require about eight hours to put together.
Staff: What was your favorite part of this trip
Jay: It was when we entered the room at the International Civil Rights Museum that housed the actual lunch counter from the old F.W. (Frank Winfield) Woolworth store.
Staff: What touched you most about that store?
Jay: I typically say to folks that you really do not know anything for sure unless you were there when it happened or you get a chance to visit afterwards. Seeing that counter in person was evidence enough for me to say yeah, this event in history was very real or in this case surreal.
Staff: What else stood out in your mind during this part of the tour?
Jay: The entire presentation/tour was very well done and professional. Our guide was very eloquent and believable in her interpretation and presentation of the events as they unfolded right before our very own eyes.
Staff: Can you elaborate a bit more on that?
Jay: Sure; for example, each room was equipped with photographs that literally changed as our guide took us through that particular part of the Civil Rights Movement. One touching and gripping scene was a very graphic larger-than-life photo of Emmitt Till – the young man that was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for reportedly flirting with a white woman. There was also a large photo of a white gentleman that was covered in blood from head to toe after being attacked during a demonstration. That photo reminded me that it was not only Blacks/African-Americans that suffered during that shameful period of American History.
Staff: What was the demographic of the tour crowd?
Jay: Surprisingly there were actually more whites in our group than Blacks.
Staff: Why do you think they were there?
Jay: I guess they were just as curious as we were concerning that era.
Staff: How long was that tour?
Jay: It lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes if my memory serves me correctly.
Staff: What else did you see and do during your trip?
Jay: Well, we broke for lunch there in downtown Greensboro just before our museum tour.
Staff: Was it a group lunch?
Jay: No, we thought it would be more practical to allow our group to choose their own cuisine based on their individual tastes and budgets.
Staff: What did you have for lunch?
Jay: I had a gourmet burger at this eatery on the other side of downtown called Natty Greene’s. I enjoyed it so much that I posted my review on this site.
Staff: Did your guests have time to do some shopping downtown?
Jay: Yes, some did as we gave them an extra 30 minutes to pick up a few things at the shops downtown.
Staff: Does the museum have a gift shop?
Jay: Yes, in fact I purchased a few souvenirs to remember my trip.
Staff: What did you guys do after the museum tour?
Jay: We headed west to a small town called Jamestown to the Mendenhall Plantation. Ironically, I recently learned that Charlotte’s former Mayor Patrick McCrory is from that area.
Staff: What was most interested about that stop?
Jay: This small one-time working plantation was also part of the Underground Railroad and featured a wagon that came equipped with a false bottom for escapees. It was extremely difficult for me to imagine more than a dozen Slaves stowed away down there for hours at a time but then again, one must consider the cost of true freedom.
Staff: When is the next tour scheduled and how do people sign up to go?
Jay: This year’s trip is Saturday May 5, 2012, and you can sign up and find additional information here!
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