FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — A man born and raised in Frederick has opened up a new business along the west end of the city. With the help of a non-profit founder and virtual reality production piece, they’ve helped create an experience for people to step back in time to see and feel the Civil Rights Movement.
“How do you get people who have never really experienced discrimination to understand what they feel like?” Desiree Tucker asks.
For Tucker, founder of Women Solve, it’s a question she’s tried to answer in her fight for more diversity awareness.
“Getting other people to understand that, to step in those shoes, I was really struggling with how to convey that,” Tucker said.
Just last November, entrepreneur Shantay Demar, took a cue from his kids and the direction of world-wide gaming and opened @VR Virtual Reality.
When it came to a location, Demar was drawn to the Golden Mile area of the city.
“When everybody’s like ‘Oh, there’s [MD-]85, [Route-]26,’ my still passion is the Golden Mile being here born and raised,” Demar explained, “I just was so comfortable with bringing something to the Golden Mile because I knew what the Golden Mile meant to me growing up.”
Tucker had come across the virtual reality production “I Am a Man,” created by Derek Ham. She says Ham agreed to share the production for a wider audience.
Tucker then approached Demar about showing the production within @VR Virtual Reality and it’s now among dozens of choices for people to step into and experience.
The production brings you back to the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike.
In the experience, the user is walking in the shoes of those fighting for civil rights and witnessing the scenes leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“All of a sudden you hear a gunshot. And it fades and you’re in [King’s hotel] room. So you’re in his room and he has a book and a newspaper at that time back then. So you can see articles and artifacts during that time,” Demar explained.
Tucker hopes it’s young children and people of all ages that to take the chance to not only see a 360-degree view of history, but feel it.
“I hope they’re able to really feel like they’re able to really step in those shoes for few minutes,” Tucker said.
Demar says the “I Am a Man” virtual reality experience will remain a part of the space through February.