Our academic portion of Freedom Summer 2017 ended a few weeks ago with a beautiful Freedom Day Celebration, and we immediately began the educational travel portion of our summer program with our first and second year camping trips.
We took off with our second year Freedom Fellows first on a trip to Tennessee and Arkansas. Our first stop was at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, where our Freedom Fellows learned about the struggle for human and civil rights beginning with the transatlantic slave trade up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The next day, we stopped in Little Rock to visit Little Rock Central High School and learned more about the desegregation crisis of 1957. After visiting Little Rock Central, we stopped at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum intended to preserve and celebrate the history and culture of African-American Arkansans. There, we learned about African-Americans from Arkansas who have done amazing things, and we participated in an educational program about student activism and a modern day Civil Rights Movement. In between our educational activities, we were at our campsite doing team building activities, telling scary stories over a campfire, and just hanging out with each other! Check out some pictures from our second year camping trip below!
After three days with our second years, we took our first year Freedom Fellows on a four-day trip to Alabama. Before we headed to Alabama, though, our first stop was at the Emmett Till Intrepid Center in Glendora, MS. There, we learned more about the heinous murder of Emmett Till, and how his death became fuel for the rest of the Civil Rights Movement. From there, we went to our campsite in Alabama to get settled for the night. The next day, we headed to Birmingham to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which is located directly across the street from the 16th St. Baptist Church- a historic landmark of the Civil Rights Movement. At this museum, our Freedom Fellows were able to get more of an in-depth understanding of civil rights activists (both well-known and not as well-known) and the roles that they played in key moments throughout American history. On the third day, we went to Selma and learned more about the voting rights marches of 1965 which include Bloody Sunday and Turn Around Tuesday, eventually leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Also while in Selma, we stopped at By the River Center for Humanity, where our Freedom Fellows went through an interactive experience that put them in the shoes of enslaved Africans. This experience helped Freedom Fellows better understand the brutality and dehumanization that their ancestors endured, and it also helped them understand the level of strength that they had to never lose hope and maintain a positive spirit. And just as with our second year trip, we had plenty of bonding time at our campsite where we played card games, went on nature hikes, and spent time swimming in the lake! Check out some pictures from our first year camping trip below!
Our next trip will be a week spent at the University of Mississippi with all of our Freedom Fellows. Be on the lookout for an update from that trip, which will conclude programming for Freedom Summer 2017!