Over March break, seven students and three chaperones spent a week between Atlanta and Alabama to gain a deeper understanding of life during the civil rights movement in the deep South. During the trip, students visited Dr. Martin Luther King’s childhood home and gravesite in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as different museums and landmarks like the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute,16th Street Baptist Church and the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Students had valuable opportunities to speak with several individuals who experienced and took part in some of the most notable events to happen in the history of the United States of America during the civil rights movement. One evening, they had dinner with Mr. Charles Person, one of the original Freedom Riders who rode the bus from Washington, D.C. to Montgomery, Alabama. They also dined and had a discussion with 16th Street Baptist Church bombing survivor and author, Dr. Carolyn Maull McKinstry, who generously provided each student with a signed copy of her book, While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement. From talking with McKinstry, Brendan McNamara ’22 learned, “The ability to forgive is within us all and not far in the distance from our choice to forgive, is strength and healing. ” (Read Brendan’s powerful blog post about the trip here.)
Lastly, students were able to meet and tour Selma, Alabama with Joanne Bland, a Selma marcher who participated in “Bloody Sunday” and “Turnaround Tuesday.” Students learned much about the civil rights movement through the stories of those on the front lines, but also made meaningful connections to activism and social justice that are so relevant today.