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Foundations 111 Takes Students to Key Civil Rights Sites


Submitted on December 10, 2019

For freshmen at Georgetown College, Foundations 111 serves as just that, foundations. It serves as a foundation not just for how to succeed academically, but how to use that knowledge to make a difference, providing students new perspectives and widening their world-view.

For all these reasons, Foundations 111 students made a trip this past November to key civil rights sites in Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama. The weekend opened students’ eyes to the struggle for civil rights in this county and allowed them to share their own stories.

The trip began in Montgomery, Alabama with visiting the Equal Justice Institute’s Legacy Museum, which focuses on the history of slavery in America and its continuing legacy. Alongside the museum, students then visited the Equal Justice Institute’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow.

Dr. John Henkel, one of the leading faculty members on the trip, said, “The monument itself is incredibly powerful: as you walk through it, you’re confronted first with rusted metal monuments bearing the names of lynching victims in almost every county across the south; then as you continue, your path descends but the monuments stay where they are, until you realize that they’re suspended from the ceiling like brown bodies hanging from nooses. The sheer number of memorials and names boggles the mind.”

Following these visits, students went to Birmingham to see the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and on Sunday morning, students worshipped at 16th Street Baptist Church, which was famously bombed in 1963, killing four young girls. Worshipping in such a profound place, a place that has seen immense violence in the name of racism, greatly moved the students and caused them to reflect on this history of racism in America.

Perhaps of even more importance than the historical understanding the trip provided, it also allowed students from different backgrounds to open a dialogue in a safe environment. “This trip allowed our students of vastly different backgrounds to come together and discuss issues that have impacted us all”, said Assistant Dean for Equity and Inclusion, Tiera Mason. “The experiences we had and the conversations that followed allowed the students to process and ask questions in a safe environment. It allowed the group to confront how the past still has impact on our lives today.” 

Foundations 111 serves freshmen students at Georgetown College by asking them to think and interact with their world differently, to consider other points of view, and to connect with their fellow students, learning from each other’s distinct perspectives. This trip to civil rights sites in Alabama ultimately served just that purpose. Students left thinking about their world differently. They came back to Georgetown College with a better understanding and a deeper connection with their fellow students. 

 


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