CPS students travel to Memphis to mark MLK anniversary

CHICAGO -- Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Some Chicago Public School (CPS) students are among the Chicagoans traveling to Memphis to mark the occasion.

Dozens of CPS students will be meeting up at Hirsch High School, 7740 South Ingleside Avenue, to board a bus tonight, headed for Memphis.

They will have the ideals of Dr. King in mind because this trip is about more than the 50th anniversary events.

The students are going to see history first hand. Upperclassmen from Hirsch High School will be joined by other CPS students tonight to depart on a unique field trip to three states. Memphis is the first stop.

"That first stop means everything to our students," said Hirsch principal Larry Varn. "This is a man who they have heard about their entire lives. They study him over and over again, and it's really bringing the pages of their U.S. history to life."

Other students are already on their way to Memphis. A bus left Rainbow PUSH headquarters last night and members will soon connect with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was at Dr. King's side 50 years ago on the Lorraine Motel balcony.

Some students know tomorrow's march will also hold special meaning.

"The march is led by Jesse Jackson so it is going to mean much more, it is going to be like we're marching with Dr. King," said Rainbow PUSH participant Jamila Smith.

The slain civil rights leader had strong Chicago ties, having fought for fair housing here. His 1968 assassination sparked days of rioting in Chicago, which has the West Side still scarred. But his dream clearly lives on.

The CPS tour leaving tonight is titled "Where Do We Go From Here?"

From Memphis, the students plan to visit five colleges in Texas and Arkansas to help them prepare for the brighter future so many fought and died for.