“You read about it and you have it for a minute and then you lose it. When you experience it hands-on it stays with you forever,” said sophomore Sabrina Mays about the 3-day Civil Rights Movement tour in May of 2011 for 44 middle and high school students from McComb, Miss. The video above shows highlights of the tour and you can hear from the students themselves about what they learned.
Students spent the first day in Jackson, Miss., at the Freedom Riders’ Reunion where they met many veterans including Hollis Watkins. Watkins was one of the central figures in the Civil Rights Movement in McComb and continues to be very active today throughout the state in his work with Southern Echo. On the second day in Philadelphia, Miss. they met the town’s first black mayor, James Young (in photo with students) and visited historic sites. On the last day they toured the National Civil Rights Museum and the Cotton Museum in Memphis, Tenn.
Sabrina Mays also had this to say about meeting with veterans: “It is just not the same as reading a book or looking on the internet. When you sit down and you look in these people’s eyes, you have a connection. This is the best way to learn by talking to people that have been through it.”
Students attended the dedication and unveiling of the Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker at the Medgar Evers Home Museum. Randall Wanzo, a sophomore, commented, “When he took off the cover for the plaque, it felt like a historic moment.”
Funding for the tour and the video was provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.