The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Fay Magazine: Summer 2023

Upper School Update: Walking Through History

Daintry Zaterka '88
American history came alive for ninth grade students this winter on a civil rights tour of Georgia and Alabama.
This past February, ninth graders spent five days in Georgia and Alabama, experiencing the museums and memorials that tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement in the American South. The students connected these experiences to the themes of race and inequality they studied in poetry and literature this fall, and history students in Topics in Modern America (TMA) visited many of the sites they had learned about in their study of the Civil Rights Movement. The trip also offered valuable lessons about leadership and following one’s convictions. “Each museum and site highlighted leaders and the many young people who spoke out for what was right and just,” says Director of Equity and Inclusion Jill Anthony. “Our students were able to think about what leadership looks like.”
The itinerary was packed with powerful site visits. At Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park in Atlanta, students explored exhibits on Dr. King’s life and work, including the Montgomery bus boycott, the marches from Selma to Montgomery, the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, and Dr. King’s assassination. Students then crossed the street to visit Dr. and Mrs. King’s tomb and the eternal flame at his graveside. In the afternoon, students visited the Apex Museum, which traced Black history through the centuries to the modern day.
In Montgomery, Alabama, students visited the Legacy Museum. Students had the opportunity to encounter the exhibits at their own pace, which touched on the role of slavery in the United States, the experience of slavery through the eyes of enslaved people, Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement. They also visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a stark and moving memorial that honors the memory of Black victims of lynching in the United States. That experience, and the time to reflect on it as a group afterward, was a particular highlight for Jill. “It’s one of the most beautiful–and intense–memorials I’ve ever seen,” she says. “We saw the history, the art that has come out of it, and the beauty of people coming together to march and pull one another up.”
Day four of the trip took the group to the State Capitol in Montgomery, the final destination of the marchers who traveled from Selma across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students visited the nearby Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. King served as pastor at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Rosa Parks Museum, where they learned about Mrs. Parks’ contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and how her refusal to give up her seat on a city bus led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Then, the group traveled to Birmingham, visiting the 16th Avenue Baptist Church, where a bomb killed four girls on September 15, 1963. A docent in the church community shared his memories of
that day.
The trip was designed to balance thought-provoking experiences and learning about the history of the Civil Rights Movement with opportunities for camaraderie, sightseeing, and fun. Students also enjoyed visits to the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta and “Space” at the Illuminarium, an immersive exhibit on the history and future of space travel. Delicious food was another highlight of the trip, as students enjoyed Southern barbecue and visits to food halls where they chose from a range of international cuisines. The ninth graders appreciated that this trip was an opportunity not available to most first-year high school students. “Our students were incredibly grateful for the experience,” says Jill. “They appreciated that it was just for them and that it was an experience that they were ready for.”

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