English Students Go to Birmingham

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English Students Go to Birmingham

C. Audrey Harper, Writer

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On November 2, 2016, the Bob Jones English classes went to Birmingham to visit the Civil Rights Institute and the 16th Street Baptist Church, home to a white supremacist bombing in 1963.

The museum chronicles the Civil Rights movement and Birmingham’s role in it. There are multiple exhibits showing the realities of segregation: from water fountains to public schools. It even shows the famed jail cell in which Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail, which AP English 11 students studied prior to the trip.  At the end of the museum, there is a screening of the renowned “I Have A Dream” speech by MLK.

Mrs. Dauma, the AP English 11 teacher, said, “It bring history to life in a way that reading about these events in books cannot do.”

The Civil Rights Movement has seen a recent upheaval in the movement, Black Lives Matter. Across the country, protests have erected after the deaths of Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, and other black Americans killed by police officers.

“[The Civil Rights Institute] really shows how the country has changed, and how little it has changed as well,” Elijah Johnson, a Bob Jones student, said.

Yvonne Williams, a retired Birmingham teacher who now works at the Institute, who was “around the corner”  during the 16th Baptist Church bombing, stated, “Things are better, things change. Not a 100% but things are better.”

Coincidentally, the day of the field trip, Hopewell Baptist Church, a predominantly black church in Greenville, Mississippi, was set on fire and the “Vote Trump” was painted on the building.

Across the street from the Civil Rights Institute is the 16th Street Baptist Church, which students were allowed to go inside and revel in what is now there and learn about the history of the church.

Ted Debero spoke with the students, who is not only a member of the 16th Baptist Street Church currently, but was in the congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where Dr. King was a minister when the bombing occurred.

“We were inspired by Dr. King and other leaders and saw that what was happening was an injustice and that we had to go against injustice in any kind of way that we could,” Debero said.

While the first Civil Rights Movement is over and Dr. King is no longer with us, his message of fighting injustice still lives on.

“We’re depending on the young people to break this chain, [of racism and injustice] we’re depending on you all to fix this because it should not be,” Williams said.

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