Pike County Times
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Students Take Historic Civil Rights Trip
By Guest Columnist Todd Child

ZEBULON - Students from Pike County Middle School embarked on a historic trip to visit several iconic places that defined the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The students left the school in early hours to make the four hour trip to their first stop—Selma.

The main focus of the trip was to retrace the famous Selma to Montgomery March of 1965. The march failed on its first two attempts, the first because of the violence on “Bloody Sunday” when marchers clashed with law enforcement. The students walked over the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge to stand on the spot where the clash erupted.

After arriving in Montgomery, the students made several stops, the first being the sight of the fourth camp site where the marchers rested. The site was on the campus of the City of St. Jude Catholic Institution. Entertainers such as Tony Bennett, Nina Simone, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter, Paul and Mary performed.

Holt Street Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his first civil rights speech was next on the trip’s agenda. The speech began the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The boycott started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus; therefore, the next site the students enjoyed was the bus stop where Mrs. Parks first got on her bus and stepped into history.

The bus stop is located at one end of Dexter Avenue marking the beginning of the trek up the paved street where students saw Dexter Avenue Baptist Church that served as Dr. King’s home church at the time of the bus boycott. As the students arrived at the other end of the street, the also saw where the voting march marked its conclusion—the capitol steps. Students were able to stand on the spot where Dr. King gave one of his most enduring speeches, his “How long? Not long!” speech.

The students moved farther up the steps to where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office to become president of the Confederacy during the Civil War. They also visited the first white house of the Confederacy which is just across the street from the capitol building.

On the way home, the students visited Moten Field in Tuskegee, AL that served as one of the training facilities of the famous Tuskegee Airmen.

Wrapping up the trip, the students visited Tuskegee Institute and saw The Oaks, a house owned by Booker T. Washington when he served as president of the university. They also visited and paid their respects at the graves of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.

The bus filled with tired students who gained a deeper appreciation of the struggle African-American endured in their fight for civil rights pulled into the middle school parking. The trip is becoming an annual event for the middle school with the hopes of having more students next year.

Submitted 4.16.18