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American South Social Justice & Civil Rights 2022

June 29, 2022

Today is the first day of learning that we experienced during this program. The day started off slow as we all rose out of bed and walked outside at 7am but soon picked up when we arrived at the cafe du monde. At cafe du monde we fueled up with beignets and coffee as we listened to live music and hung out for a little. After breakfast we set off for orientation at the Tree of Life where we participated in many icebreakers and quickly began to bond. After some meaningful conversations and preparation and, of course, photos by the Tree of Life we headed off to Whitney plantation.

As we entered the Whitney plantation we started mentally preparing for the tour that we were about to receive. We walked through the lobby observing timelines and images until our tour guide led us outside to walk through this plantation. The plantation was powerful. We walked through the land observing the place where many enslaved Africans worked arduously as well as lived, uprose, raised families, and developed a culture when they were handed near to nothing because they were being treated as property. We walked through the memorials of not only the uprising that took place on the Whitney plantation, but all of the children who died due to enslavement on the Whitney plantation along with the 107,000 enslaved Africans who were enslaved throughout Louisiana. This tour was not only informational but emotional and resonated with the group, these emotions and thoughts allowed us to move forward in our group’s conversation after the tour.

After we visited Whitney we moved on to have car rides in two vehicles with spirited passengers or in some cases tired passengers. We drove to Popeye’s and gathered as a community eating lunch and enjoying each other’s presence. The fun continued as we moved onto a fun escape room as we worked together, laughed together, and solved a fun puzzle together. After that fun outing we gathered at Anatolia Mediterranean Restaurant and had a nice meal as we sat together as a community. It really felt that we got to bond a lot together over the course of the day making conversations interesting and making us all happy. After a long day we met to reflect and  said goodnight as we prepare to leave for Alabama bright and early tomorrow!

Written By: Jaden H.

June 30, 2022

Our second full day of this year’s American South Global Works trip started quite early. Only one crocodile managed to greet us at the early hour of 5am as we were saying our good byes to Bayou Segnette Cabins. We all managed to pack up on time to be rewarded with ample nap opportunity on the long drive to Alabama. On the many stops as we transitioned from French architecture to thick green foliage. We stopped by some popular southern gas stations/highway stops. Of the names we were awake to see were Loves and Racetrack, neither of which I am familiar with from California gas stations. At one point when we were awake and conscious, we also passed a billboard demanding passerby’s “Think God”, the confusing request informed me we’d crossed state lines to Alabama. Witnesses claim the van, with its greater numbers, had a more enjoyable time with their games and karaoke. However I now know the Chevy truck is the place to be when looking for a better playlist to chill to, in which at least one person is always asleep. It is ever important that we can label the vehicles by vibes as we switch them up and take them on adventures.

Today’s first real destination was Gee’s Bend. I’d never heard of it before but inside were sweet old ladies and watermelon, a win. It was surprisingly fun to have them instruct us on the art of quilting. We were also shown a documentary while quilting, allowing us to get very familiar with the ancestry of this former plantation. In it some experts commented on how many of the locals are descendants of slaves from that very area and few had migrated to this area that had once been the poorest in the country. It also went over the two women who hosted us, their business, and history. It highlighted how isolated African Americans there were from luxury but still capable of creating art that challenged modern classics. The women were sisters who’d made quilts all their lives but didn’t know the true value of their work for a long time. They’d previously sold beautiful quilts worth hundreds of dollars for under $10. Luckily many like us have gone to their sweet establishment to appreciate what they had to share. Even though my extremely amateur little quilt didn’t even begin to rival theirs they still ended our experience with a duet song that felt like we’d earned something special. Both were extremely talented with a sewing machine and their own voices so I hope to fulfill our promise to come again someday.

After this we were supposed to head to a farm but a storm impeded our arrival and for safety’s sake we canceled. The wonderful trip leaders promised to look for another time for us to go while in Alabama, and because I trust them with my life… Here’s hoping that can be arranged. Instead the still sleepy people who’d hadn’t driven at all continued their relaxation as we changed trajectory to the Drury hotel. After checking in, we had our first dinner in Alabama at Midtown Pizza where we celebrated Claire’s birthday!

Written by: Olivia B.

July 1, 2022

On the third full day of the American South trip- our second day in Alabama- we immersed ourselves in the city of Montgomery, Alabama. To begin our day, we had a family style breakfast at the hotel and enjoyed each other’s company. Soon thereafter we headed over to the Southern Poverty Law’s civil rights museum. There we had a guided tour through their exhibit and had meaningful discussions about what we had learned and seen in the museum. We discussed the parallels and differences between racism now and during the civil rights movement, as well as how the Black community remained strong through such adversity. After that discussion, we had the opportunity to self-guide ourselves through the rest of the exhibit. Our final moments at the Southern Poverty Law museum was when we added our names to a mural through pledging to be an upstander in our communities- an experience that was truly empowering.

Following our time at the Museum, we took a stroll down to see the church in which Dr. King was a preacher. On our way, we saw a beautiful mural promoting ‘good trouble’ in regards to fighting for equality. It was a hot day in Montgomery, so we headed back to the vans to drive to our lunch location, Plant Bae- a black owned vegan restaurant in the city. Before our lunch, we discussed the experience we had in the museum and the ways it made us feel. Something that resonated with me from the discussion was that fact that some of our members didn’t know how to feel yet about the experience, they had yet to process all of the information we learned. The trip leaders explained that not knowing how to feel in itself is a feeling that is ok, especially when digesting such dense and emotional topics.

After our delicious lunch, full of conversation, we embarked on a walking tour of Montgomery. We read monument descriptions and analyzed the dates in which they were published- some as late as 2008. Not even 15 minutes into our break from the walking tour, which was spent in a local cafe, more history found us. We met a kind community leader that welcomed us into a communal exhibit space. There we saw art that was dedicated to John Lewis, Juneteenth exhibits, and heard of more exhibits that are opening across the south. We then played some games to relax and bond even more before we walked up to the state capitol.

At the State capitol, we began learning by listening to the Dr. Martin Luther King Speech, ‘How long? Not Long’, a speech that was intended to be presented on the state capitol steps, but wasn’t due to discriminatory laws. Of course, we followed by discussion of what Dr. King intended to promote through those sentiments- especially given the time in which the speech was delivered. After that, we looked at the monuments surrounding the capitol and discussed why most of them were problematic and rooted in racist ideologies- like the monument honoring the father of gynecology. After that conversation we continued to discuss discrimination in the United States today, we learned each others perspectives and deeply analyzed the US education system.

Finally, after that discussion we walked and talked whilst walking down Montgomery Ave. and went to dinner. This evening we had a hibachi dinner, followed by ice cream! We then headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and debating by the pool.

Written by Sophia S.

July 2, 2022

The fourth day of our trip began with breakfast in the hotel, the best way to start out a long day of activities. Once everyone was stuffed and ready for the day, we headed over to the Legacy Museum. It was a long and heavy experience, covering the struggles of African Americans from the very beginning to current day. Despite the difficult emotions we all felt after the experience, our grief did not prevent us from asking ourselves why things were the way they were or discussing how things needed to be. Soon after this, we continued to lunch, where we ate tacos and got to unwind a bit after the heavy feelings of the morning. We also went to Starbucks, where we got to get drinks and enjoy more of each other’s company before getting back into the emotionally difficult topics.

We continued to the Legacy Memorial, where we were able to see the remembrance of many lynching victims, specific to the counties they resided. We also read many horrific stories of lynching, including one about a lynching massacre. Once we finished up at the memorial, we resumed our conversation from earlier in the day and began connecting many different topics and discussing ways to address them for ourselves. After, we had finally finished our tough topics for the day and headed to dinner. We ate delicious Thai cuisine and laughed with one another. Then, we hurried over to a concert in Montgomery’s public amphitheater by the river, where we enjoyed soul music, snow cones, and dancing. We also got to watch fireworks. Once again, it was a fun and productive day together, and we all took another step towards changing the world for the better.

Written by Elise T.

July 3, 2022 

On the fifth day of the trip we started it like most days, eating breakfast in the hotel lobby. Except today we got a later start at 9:30 am. Although our original plan had been to go to Selma, we had to adjust for covid safety and spent our morning testing. After we were all clear, we got back in the cars and headed to Birmingham, an hour and a half drive.

Our first adventure there was at a pizza shop called Mellow Mushroom where we ate food and had a few good laughs. After that we explored the city and went to all sorts of places like Crystal shops where we manifested that everyone would be healthy and safe. We also went to a thrift shop where you could honestly get anything from shirts to skateboards. After walking around in the hot sun of Alabama, we went to the Botanical Gardens and saw trees, flowers, and even came upon a wedding. Walking through the gardens was so relaxing after the day we had and a great way to end our day in Birmingham and had back to Montgomery for dinner. Ending the day we stopped at Zaxbys and the way back we actually stumbled upon a Bison as well!! Spotted by yours truly. Back at the hotel, some went straight to bed and some jumped in the pool to cool off.

By Avery B.

July 4, 2022

Today began somewhat slowly, with a departure time at 8:30, leaving plenty of time for resting and breakfast. We continued to practice Covid precautions today with a few more tests, as well as masks to keep everyone safe. After finishing up our morning at the hotel, we headed off towards Selma to visit the Edmund Pettus Bridge (wrongfully named after a Confederate soldier and former KKK leader). There, we visited a memorial for those involved in the event of Bloody Sunday, which was set up by the community itself rather than the government. The memorial wasn’t much like the ones we’ve previously visited on our trip, such as the Legacy Memorial for victims of lynching. Rather, this one was not well kept, and was quite noisy in its place on the roadside. The ground was covered with weeds and grass— a poor state for a memorial to be in. We couldn’t help but be astonished by this lack of respect for those honored there, although there were some nice flowers placed in front of the stones marking their memory.

The next part of our day included a walk over the bridge in silence, honoring the walk of these people during their fight for their rights. In the town of Selma, we met with a few locals, George Sallie— a 92-year-old Korean War veteran— and Columbus Mitchell, who told us more about the history of Bloody Sunday, including their own experiences and the experiences of their family. It was very interesting to hear their take on the event, which was far different from the information given to most of us in our schools’ history classes, and worth sitting out in the heat for.

We stopped for lunch at a fried chicken place before continuing on to our next plan for the day. It was a long drive consisting of podcasts, music, and gas station breaks, but it was all worthwhile once we reached the arcade. There, we played a few of the classic arcade games, as well as a game of laser tag. It was a great form of friendly competition and bonding for us all, and probably a big highlight of the day. Things were very intense, but overall each team played well.

The final big event of the day was a minor league baseball game between the Montgomery Biscuits and the Biloxi Shuckers. This was our 4th of July celebration, although none of us are very patriotic. Despite the fact that many of us had no clue what was going on half the time, it was a great experience to just laugh and joke around with everyone. We got rained on, too, but it was sort of a nice break from the smoldering heat. Our day wrapped up back at the hotel, everyone full of food and ready to pack up and head to our next location. Another day comes tomorrow, and we all can’t wait to see what happens then.

Written by: Grace T.

July 5, 2022

We started out our day by departing from our Hotel at 8 in the morning and then we drove to Birmingham where we visited 16th Street Baptist Church. At the 16th Street Baptist Church, we were shown around the church by a couple of tour guides and we learned about the history of the church and how the tragic bombing by the Ku Klux Klan happened. We got to learn and examine the architecture of the church, as well as learn about the specially imported stain glass art piece from Wales! A really amazing tour.

Afterwards we all were overjoyed at lunch time, with lots of options at a food-court style eatery. Most of us got tacos and poke bowls, yum! We also all enjoyed some refreshing boba tea, a nice break from the heat.

Afterwards we walked around the Five Points Neighborhood where we got to walk in different shops. Some of the ones that were popular among the group were a thrift shop called the Magic City Mercantile and a crystal shop called Golden Temple. After that, we started our long drive to Memphis, TN and while on the drive, we stopped at Blues Alley and walked around the neighborhood and learned some of the history of Blues Music, which is a big part of the southern culture.

Finally, we arrived in Memphis, TN and went to our hostel where we checked in and ate Classic Chicken Sandwiches and platters for dinner.

Written By: Lucas H.

July 6, 2022

To start off our day we woke up early and headed out to eat breakfast at Sunrise Memphis. I got french toast which was very good. Then after breakfast we headed to The Rox, a climbing gym and community center where we picked up trash with the help of an employee named Jarvis, and then got a bouldering lesson by very friendly a random customer. Once we finished our lesson we decided to have some free time and I met up with Claire in the upstairs gym and both of us used the stair workout machine. I played solitaire and lost on easy mode, I never realized that walking up stairs could be such a workout but it was and after I really wanted to wash off in the communal showers at The Rox but we didn’t have time and we had to head to lunch where we got Mexican food and someone.

Next we headed to the Memphis Civil Rights Museum where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and we were able to look at his room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. After the end of the museum I had some mixed feelings about it, in my personal opinion I didn’t think it was organized the best and one of my group members pointed out it reminded them of a history textbook – it wasn’t very engaging and it was hard to retain all the information, in contrast to the other museums we’ve seen which I thought were incredibly well done. Other people can have their opinions on it, those were just mine.

After the museum we headed to shop and most of us stayed in Urban Outfitters the majority of the time while our group leaders Sadie and Nia went to a cafe to chill. Once done with shopping all 10 of us piled back into the van and we headed to CVS then dinner at Central BBQ. Me and one of my roommates at the hostel we’re staying at shared a meal of chicken wings but what we didn’t know was that they were twice the size of normal wings and they were covered in sauce. My roommate ate the majority of theirs while I was only able to get three before I gave up due to the mess. It was only after dinner that we noticed disposable gloves on one of the counters that we could have used. In the end it was a good dinner and day plus I got to try something new and hang with the Global Works South Civil Rights Trip family.

Written by: Lily H.

July 7, 2022

Wake up was around eight o’clock for the ones in the hotel. After we ate a delicious breakfast, we headed over to begin our community service of the day at Memphis Rox.

This included lots of shoveling rocks to start the process of making concrete, constructing helpful structures to help the finishing touches of a greenhouse which was even hotter than the 102º weather. Lots of water was drunk, and lots of sweat was produced. After this process, there was a general feeling of completion and accomplishment. We headed into the rock climbing gym to climb! People were getting hungry so we made our way to a grocery store, where we all had a selection of food.

We went back to the hostel to eat our food and made our way to a drumming lesson which was in a church area. After this lesson, we had time to play the piano in this large echoy room. This piano was played by mostly yours truly and Erin, where we played and sang many songs from “Mamma Mia” by ABBA to “Someone Like You” by Adele. We wrapped up with some dancing. We headed to “Gus’s famous fried chicken” which in my opinion, anything with the word “famous” in it is just trying hard for more attention. If it;s famous, it doesn’t need “famous” in the title. Anyways, we waited a very long time for our chicken. After this, we went to a concert. Celisse was so much fun to watch. She had great energy had and some great originals. She also did some covers of songs like “Use me” by Bill Withers, and “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin – two of my favorites, but with her own funky twist. Her band was amazing and it was cool how close we could get to the stage. Overall today was quite action-packed and most of all an unforgettable experience.

-Ada E.

July 8, 2022

Traveling Back to New Orleans

Today, our breakfast consisted of the picture perfect avocado toast and French toast. Shortly after our breakfast, we jumped in the van and made our way to the Mississippi River to kayak. We spent around an hour and a half on the water. That was definitely our arm workout for the week.

After kayaking we decided to grab a quick bite at Panera before starting our journey back to New Orleans. On our way, we stopped at Tasty Takes where we took a risk and ended up rewarded with the most delicious nachos and burgers. Although the food was great the heat and sweat experienced was out of this world. So, we decided to go take a pit stop at Strong River in D’Lo Mississippi where we took a dip in the cool water and had a little photoshoot.

Before starting the final stage of our drive, we took a stop at McDonalds and I got a burger and coke. We ate our second dinner in the parking lot while listening to music and dancing. Then we hopped in the Chevy for the last time and finished our drive to New Orleans. On the way, we had a dance party and singing session to help along with the 2 hour drive. Finally, we made it to the Quisby hotel and settled in for the night.

By: Erin L. and Jacqueline C.

July 9, 2022
Our first full day back in New Orleans started with breakfast at a small nearby cafe. The area hosted many locals, and many of us enjoyed coffee or iced tea while others went next door for smoothies. We then went to NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art) where they featured a temporary exhibit of Queen Nefartari’s tomb. The exhibit hosted many interesting artifacts such as coffins that held the queen’s brothers. Some of us left to enjoy some activities the park offered, such as biking and kayaking. I stayed with those who completed touring the museum, where we were disappointed to find endless exhibits of different European cultures and art, while there was only one room on the 3rd floor for African art, simply labeled ‘Africa.’

We resumed the day by having lunch at Dizzy’s, where I enjoyed shrimp and potato salad. The black-owned restaurant was enjoyable for everyone, and many people ended up ordering more food. We were thankfully able to come back to the hostel and rest, given that we came late the night before. After napping, we headed over to Studio Be, where we were able to take a tour of Brandan “BMike” Odom’s studios, where many larger than life pieces featured experiences of being a Black person in America. The studio and artworks were amazing, and many of the descriptions were thought-provoking and deep. I enjoyed how his art encompasses the experience and fight for civil rights through color and art, given that other museums and experiences give information typically through words or exhibits. We ended the day with dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, which was amazing. Part of the culture is eating with your hands, so you can feel connected with nature and where the food came from. This was not something I was used to, but enjoyed it thoroughly. The night was complete with a wild trip to Wendy’s, where they were out of chocolate, the card machine, and wildly enough, cheese. Overall, it was a wonderful day and a kind welcome back to New Orleans.

Written By: Claire H.

July 10, 2022

On a beautiful Sunday morning, my friends and I gather around the lobby around 9:30 am. While having conversations with each other we made our way with our group leaders to have a quick breakfast at a cafe called Avenue Cafe. While everyone was giving in their orders my friends and I continue on talking for a bit but I ended up sleeping on the table since I was extremely exhausted. My fruit bowl ended up waking me up since it was so good & juicy. While everyone is enjoying their breakfast and having a good time with each other we left the cafe and took a trip to the Presbyterian museum in the French Quarters.

This museum was extremely important for my friends and me to observe and learn more about hurricane Katrina. It was a disaster that had ruined many lives and terrified many people but the people didn’t let the disaster bring them down; instead, they brought themselves up as a community and united together. One thing that had brought them hope, faith, and joy was Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras was a form of celebration that brought the community together in which everyone danced, and wear beautiful costumes, royals gowns, and jewelry. It was so beautiful that everyone came together and was happy even after suffering a horrible natural disaster.

After taking a tour of the museum we went to eat and I thought my meal was gonna be small because I order chicken breast tenders and sweet potato fries but when my meal came in it was a big hero sandwich and I thought I was gonna finish it but I got full after eating half of the sandwich! Anyways it was a delicious meal and I love supporting local businesses. After having a good meal our team leaders gave us a chance to explore the French Quarter and it was also an amazing experience especially with Jackie because we got the chance to explore the town which is completely different from New York City and we loved it even though some stores were a bit expensive but we manage to buy souvenirs for our family. After shopping our trip leaders took us to a small food court and we all went our different ways since we all have different tastes. I ended up getting a Nutella crepe which was AMAZING  but as always I get full. Anyways, we hopped into the van and got ice cream and on our way to the ice cream shop, we saw a man with a huge snake on his hoverboard which is extremely scary because I am scared of snakes! I can’t stand them. We arrive at our destination and gather around and sang happy birthday to Erin, we talked and laughed and went back to the van and we were on our way to the hostel, talked a little, and went back into our rooms, all but me, since I’m writing the blog so thanks for reading, goodnight.
Written By: Rosmery M.

July 11, 2022

The last day of our civil rights trip was jam packed with dirt, gators, and tears. We started the day off with coffees and smoothies, something we’d almost made a tradition in our last days of New Orleans. Those went with us to a garden site in the lower 9th Ward. We worked as volunteers for Common Ground Hurricane Relief. There they educated us on the many contributors to marsh destruction: The levees meant to prevent flooding block sediment spread and invasive species disrupting the thick plant growth that protects from natural disasters. In our small effort to combat this we spent our morning doing a lot to prepare grass for planting and watering trees.

Following this garden adventure, maybe our sweatiest one yet, we drove to the airport for an early drop off. Piling on to the emotions of saying goodbye to Sophia was some card distribution. We purchased a few at a black owned business in the French Quarter for our sensational leaders. After we reached the necessary amount of tears we left for lunch. Difficulty finding a restaurant in time for our next activity led to some Popeyes instead of their plan but I was not complaining. With our final dose of fried chicken we went down to a swamp for the full Louisiana experience.

With an entertaining tour guide, we raced across the Pearl River in our rented boat. Stops were for necessary sights like birds, raccoons, turtles, and other wildlife (almost all of which we fed marshmallows). The most impressive thing we came across amid all the Spanish moss was a 12 foot crocodile hiding in the rain. This was mostly predicted from the eye to nose tail because the large creature was too busy enjoying the turtle in his jaw to come to our boat for sweet snacks (we assumed he was the male of the area because of his size). Apparently all of this was rare to witness so we were some very lucky tourists.

We finished the day off at City Park, where more tears were shed over a reflection. More cards were written on the spot, which will lead to future tears once they get read. All in all it was just as much, if not more, fun as our every other day we’ve spent growing with and on each other.

Written by: Olivia B.