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2023 Civil Rights Tour

Twenty-four Middle and Upper School students and five teachers/chaperones embarked on a journey through civil rights history just as the 2022-2023 school year ended. From June 17 to June 21, the group traveled to Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee. In a jam-packed schedule, they visited sites such as the Rosa Parks Museum, the Freedom Rides Museum, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Kelly Ingram Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the National Civil Rights Museum, and more. In between these educational experiences and time spent reflecting on them, students also took opportunities to relax and bond with their classmates — through meals, bowling, and an escape room.

Caleb Wilson ’27 said this trip helped him learn “the importance of education” when it comes to voting and making sure you’re aligned with the causes of a particular candidate. “I learned a lot about people who had enough authority to do really bad things to a lot of people.”

Caleb’s mom, Stacy Lewis, shared his sentiments. “Such a trip proved to have been rich with knowledge about treatment that African Americans encountered over years; some many years ago and some not that long ago.” she said. “The trip was truly an up-close, in-person, feet-on-the-actual-grounds experience of what all of the students may only read in a textbook or see on film.”

Lower School art teacher Trevlin Alexander — whose two sons, Derrick ’27 and Kenzo ’29, both attended — was glad they were a part of this learning expedition. “The trip highlighted the insurmountable obstacles that have historically prevented African Americans from obtaining equal and fair treatment in this country,” she said. “I doubt that they will ever forget the bravery and determination of the countless civil rights heroes learned about.”

Noah Lawrence ’26 wasn't quite sold on the idea of the tour from the start but ended up changing his mind. He shared his reflection:

“My initial reaction when asked about attending this trip was: What more could I possibly learn about African American history that I haven’t heard already? But after going to many museums, monuments, and landmarks like the Selma Bridge (Edmund Pettus), as well as hearing from local people, my thoughts have completely changed. I acquired a deeper understanding of the challenges African Americans had to go through post-slavery. I learned more about the terrible practice of lynchings but also how Black people persevered. This trip changed my perspective on Black history for the better, and I recommend it to anyone willing to learn more about our nation’s history more broadly.”


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