DuShun Scarbrough, executive director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, looks back on his organization’s sponsorship of a four-day trip to Washington, DC last week for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama as a success.
“I was really hoping that the trip would enlighten the awareness of the kids that came on the trip in reference to the outcome of their voting and the process itself,” Scarbrough said. “For some of the kids the November election was their first time voting and being able to exercise the right given to them by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that outlawed the discriminatory practices that had disenfranchised so many African-Americans.”
Scarbrough said that around half of the more than 300 people who made the trip to Washington with the commission were college students from institutions including the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Shorter College in North Little Rock, Harding University in Searcy and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
High school students from the eStem High Public Charter School in Little Rock also participated in the trip, according to Scarbrough.
“This trip showed them why it is important to vote,” Scarbrough said. “They were able to see the president that they chose sworn in as the commander in chief. They were able to see it unfold in front of their eyes. And to be able to share that experience with them on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday was amazing.”
Scarbrough said the inauguration trip encapsulated the commission’s goals of promoting racial harmony, multicultural diversity and social equality.
“I felt like this was truly a program by the commission in which we were united and included many Arkansans together from all ethnicities and diverse backgrounds for one common goal: to salute the commander in chief,” Scarbrough said. “It was truly amazing to watch everyone come together regardless of their political background; Republican, independent and Democrat. Everyone got along and courageously got into the crowd on the National Mall to take part in the inauguration.”
Scarbrough was also proud of the fact that the commission was able to transport several hundred people in six motor coaches from Arkansas to Washington, D.C., and back with no major incidents.
“I think we accomplished a lot by transporting 300-plus Arkansans to and from Washington, D.C., safely,” Scarbrough said. “That was one of the most important things; to make it through without any type of major issue. We had first-aid kits, a nurse and a plainclothes law enforcement officer on each bus to keep our participants safe.”