By Laura Decorte
InternWhen 15 students from The Bishop’s School studied the path of the Civil Rights Movement, their lessons led them on a trip down the real roads of history.
The journey began in Stephen Poovey’s English classroom, where the students read the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which led to discussions and projects surrounding slavery and a trip to the South to retrace the steps of history.
Freshman Jace Mullen explained: “We each did a kind of report on civil disobedience, and then we had the ‘infamous project’ ... we were asked to be disobedient and break a school rule.”
What began as an assignment in class, however, turned into something much bigger as students became intrigued with the subject.
“I then read some articles from Wikipedia on Bloody Sunday and such and really got interested in it, so when Mr. Poovey, my English teacher, told us of the trip, I was all for it from the beginning,” Jace said.
Poovey’s idea turned into a February trip that involved months of preparation, which included meetings during lunch to formulate their travel plan. Finally, the students, along with the Rev. Mary Katherine Allman and faculty members Laury Isenberg and Poovey, traveled to Birmingham, Ala., to begin their tour.
They all traveled to Alabama and Georgia, visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) and the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Ala.
They also made stops at the Lowndes County Voting Rights Interpretive Center, Rosa Parks Museum, Civil Rights Memorial center, Moton Field – Training Airfield for the Tuskegee Airmen, The Oaks – home of Booker T. Washington, and the grave sites of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.
They ended the trip by visiting Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Billy Williams wrapped it all up by giving them an “Atlanta’s African-American Experience” tour and visiting Martin Luther King Jr. historical sites.
Jace said she learned that you can know everything out of a book, and still not know nearly as much as going to the place will teach you.
She and her classmates said they returned with a greater sense of understanding concerning the fight for civil rights in America, as well as what their generation needs to do.
AJ Kiyoizumi said he learned a lot from the trip.
“Hearing the speakers inspired me to take history and keep fighting for equality,” he said. “Although our country is known for its liberty, there are still equality issues that are prevalent today.”
Learning about history, he said, “is just one step in making change in our society. Martin Luther King Jr. had a way of knowing that his movement and perseverance would benefit the young people of the future - us. We have to continue his legacy and improve the world for the next generation.”