Atlanta, GA, February 13, 2021 — Eastlake Male Youth Initiative (EMYI) students visited The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday, February 13 as part of their ongoing leadership training. While the museum and memorial illuminate a difficult history for African Americans in the United States, hope was an important part of the experience. The field trip was an important lesson in understanding the role of resilience and courage while facing adversity.
EMYI students visited The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday, February 13, 2021
“Schools often just teach the ‘highlight reel’ of the Civil Rights Movement—the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, Rosa Parks’s bus stand—and our students feel that racism is over,” remarked Dr. Kenneth G. Torrence, Program Director for EMYI. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
At the museum, students explored the history of black people in the United States, beginning with slavery, through Jim Crow laws and segregation, to current issues of mass incarceration and police violence against blacks. They viewed replicas of slave pens; watched and listened to life-size holograms of African Americans in 19th-century garb, describing what it was like to be imprisoned and awaiting sale.
The Lynching Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama is a very powerful and life-changing experience.
At the memorial, students weaved through 816 six-foot-tall rectangular slabs of steel, inscribed with over 4,000 names of African American men, women and children who had been victims of racial lynching.
Students also took a surprise detour through historic Tuskegee, Alabama, visiting the prestigious Tuskegee University, the school Booker T. Washington built. In December, students were assigned Washington’s autobiography, “Up From Slavery,” as required reading. Accordingly, the visit to Tuskegee expanded their knowledge and appreciation for Washington and his link to African American history.
EMYI students stand at the iconic statue of Booker T. Washington on the campus of Tuskegee University.
“I wanted to expose our students to the in-depth stories of individual struggle and resistance,” said Dr. Torrence. “The Legacy Museum and Lynching Memorial serve as a living testimony that the issues of systemic racism, mass incarceration and social justice are still with us.”
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