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Agnes Irwin School American South

March 22, 20221

After we left the airport, we went to Audubon Park to do a little overview of the trip. We got to meet our lovely trip advisors, Summer, Nia, and Autumn and played a few icebreakers then went on our way to lunch. We got amazing food at DatDog, a magnificent hotdog place. We visited a Hurricane Katrina museum, at the museum, we learned about the history of Mardi Gras and heard people’s stories about Hurricane Katrina. After we saw some musicians busking. A few friends and I took walks and I got some cool socks! My friends and I listened to some musicians play the French horn and drums.

After the museum, we all went to a restaurant called Carmos, where we all had dinner. After we ate our dinner and started to eat dessert, we started reflecting in our day. We spoke about what we learned and the things we saw at the museum today. When we left the restaurant, we got back in the van and started driving there was a bit of a storm but we made it to our cabins safely! Overall, it was a terrific day and I cannot wait for the next!

– Alimah J, Nylah, Melanie

More photos coming soon!

March 23, 2022

After a quick visit to Cafe Du Monde for breakfast beignets, we made our one hour drive to the Whitney Plantation. Prior to our arrival, we discussed a couple of ways to digest the gravity of what we were about to enter. This is one of the only plantations from the perspective of the enslaved people that lived there- through the brief quotes of their lives, the quarters where enslaved people slept, and more. We took some time towards the end of our visit to share our emotions, and try to process it all together. Overall, this is an experience that we have learned from, because it is not everyday that you get to be in a place where such a dark part of America’s history occurred.

Then, after lunch at a local po-boy restaurant, we walked through the elaborate, large scale graffiti art of Studio Be, we were greeted by knowledgeable artists and diverse spray paint art. Through art, we learned the fascinating, complex history of Studio Be and the steps taken to become the space they are today. The collection of pieces often centered on the joy and plight of Black people and people of color, and we were provided with context to fully admire the work. As we prepared to close, we learned about an artist’s process, inspirations, and experiences as a creator in New Orleans.

We wrapped up the day with a poet, Shurita, to free write and create letter affirmations for others and ourselves. During our free writing sessions, we were given five minutes to express ourselves by putting a few ounces of identity and creativity onto the paper. Free writing offered us a blank slate for unapologetic emotions and a safe space for release. Affirmations were also an important portion of the night. We wrote letters that lifted inspired, and soothed. As Ms. Shurita put it, “letters to open on a rainy day!” It was a great experience to really reflect and get in tune with how we were feeling as well as honing in on mental health by writing letters to uplift us and our community.

-Arielle, Meklit, Leah

March 24, 2022

Today we started our day off early getting to see the sun rise by our cabins and having a quick breakfast in the vans as we headed towards Selma, Alabama. After driving through Mississippi and parts of Alabama we reached the Edmund Pettus bridge which we proceeded to walk over. We visited the National Voting Rights Memorial and discussed as a group the events that occurred known as “Bloody Sunday”, which happened in 1965 when peaceful protestors set out to walk from Selma to Montgomery to demand human rights for black people in the US. They were violently attacked by police at the end of the bridge. We walked the same path as they did across the bridge.

After visiting the bridge, we drove an hour to a local farm to do service. We started by taking a quick look at all the plants and animals on the farm. Half of the group got to work by putting soil in plant beds while the others took the vegetables grown at the garden and fed them to the animals there. We worked as a group to efficiently move the dirt in the wheel barrows to the designated area. After finishing service at the farm we headed back to our hotel.

After a long day and journey to Montgomery, we got the chance to settle into the hotel and enjoy a relaxing dinner together. We then gathered to reflect on our day and prepare for our trip to the Legacy Museum and the Peace Memorial tomorrow  We answered questions in small groups about what emotions we think these experiences might provoke, the goals behind these places, and even began discussing how we can bring this learning back to our school community.

– Jada, Rosa, Elise

March 25, 2022

Today we went to the Legacy Museum. It follows the history of African Americans beginning with the transatlantic slave trade, and ending with mass incarceration. It’s powerful use of visuals is very moving. The museum has different rooms dedicated to the different time periods and aspects of history. Examples of this are the rooms focused on the middle passage and lynchings. Many of us expressed that what impacted us most and that we would want to go back one day.

Then we had the opportunity to explore the city of Montgomery. We spent time enjoying the beautiful sunny day. The Alabama River was gorgeous and learning more about such an important historical city was a lot of fun. We passed the bus stop where Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back and be oppressed by the racist Jim Crow Laws of the south. We also drove by the church Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached at for over twenty years. During these few hours we gained an appreciation for this unique and incredible city.

After visiting the Legacy Museum in the morning, we visited the National Peace and Justice Memorial that commemorates the lives of lynched African Americans after the abolishing of slavery. The memorial featured metal boxes with the names of lynched individuals from specific counties in most states like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, etc. We took time walking through the memorial and reflecting on the countless names we say, with some lynchings occurring on the same day with up to 23 different people a day. We were even shocked to realize that there was a lynching that took place in Coatesville, which hit really close to home. After we finished looking at the actual memorial, we took a little time to reflect on the visit and then we left for dinner.

– Chelsea, Avery & Nahla

March 26, 2022

We started off the day with a 1.5 hour ride to the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Once we arrived in Birmingham we went to the 16th Street Baptist Church. In the basement of the church is a memorial dedicated to the 4 girls whose lives were lost in the bombing. The memorial also describes all the events that led up to the bombing and the aftermath of bombing as well. We were also given the chance to have a tour of the actual church, which still stands today, and reflect on our experiences up until today. We wrapped up at the church, and headed to the memorial park across the street, which commemorates Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair, two boys who were killed that same day by police/white-supremacists, and other protesters.

For lunch, we visited a food court in Birmingham. There were many options such as Pho, burgers, boba, Mexican food, and delicious bowls of ramen.

After lunch, we walked around Birmingham and went to Saturn, a café with lots of nostalgia-inspired games to play with friends. As a group, we took pictures in the photo booth, played card games, and played video games on older consoles such as the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation 1. Later, we drove back to Montgomery to have dinner at a pizza restaurant and ended the day with ice cream!

– Sophie, Dakota, Maya