College and Civil Rights Trip
Day 4 Blog Post - 11.3.22
Tennessee State University
Writers: Matthew Calhoun & Alaska Lockhart (8th Grade Students)
Today, we woke up a little later than usual and we thank God for Mr. Jones saying we could sleep in haha! Matthew Calhoun presented his oral presentation about Tennessee State University as we headed to their campus. Our tour began with a presentation from a current sophomore about what opportunities were at TSU. We learned that although being from Atlanta we are within the 250 mile radius to receive discounted tuition. Four tour guides took us around the campus and shared their personal experiences. We saw several academic buildings, Basketball arena, Greek row, and dormitories. We were able to meet with some AYA alumni, Imani Jones and Mya Millines. Imani Jones received a scholarship to TSU and talked about how much she enjoyed the community at TSU. Mya Millines shared that she visited TSU as an 8th grader on the Civil Rights Trip. They came to campus during homecoming week and she said she fell in love. Our favorite part was the large number of African American students. It felt great to be a majority rather than a minority because it seems like you are heard more. We had a great experience at Tennessee State University but wished we could’ve experienced their homecoming like Mya!
Middle Tennessee State University
Writers: Gabrielle Heard & Mackenzie Allen (8th Grade Students)
Today, we had a late start to the morning, which was good because we’ve been on the go! We debriefed about what we did Wednesday over a delicious breakfast. After our tour of TSU, we took about a 40 minute drive to MTSU in Murfreesboro. Once we got to MTSU, we ate lunch and met with Atlanta Youth Academy alumnus, Jeremiah Andrews (class of 2017). After lunch, we walked over to the Braggs media building and met Professor Greg Pitts, who introduced MTSU to us, and gave us information on the Journalism Program. We saw where and how they print journalism, advertise, and its relationship with the public. Next we met, Professor Matt Folgia. He gave us information on the recording industry program. We learned about production and even got to hear a student’s cover of Valerie-Amy Winehouse. Third were Professors Tom neff and Carla Fox. They gave us a presentation about the Media Arts Program. We learned about filming, animation, and XR Reality. In conclusion learning about different types of media effects made me look at the movie we watched, later on differently. We left MTSU for Chattanooga. After checking-in we went to watch the movie Till. The movie impacted us because what the Mammie Till endured in an attempt to seek justice for her son. Till was an emotional rollercoaster as a young black boy, Emmitt Till, was unjustly murdered but due to racism his mother Mammie was unable to receive justice for her son. It was a harsh reality but we were proud of Mammie’s strength and perseverance.
Day 3 Blog Post - 11.2.22
Wednesday, November 2 - Vanderbilt & NMAAM
Writers: Jeremiah Thomas, Marlei Jackson, and Jayla Ward (7th Grade Students)
The third day of the Civil Rights and College Tour began with hotel breakfast, as we scrambled to make waffles!! Our first stop was at Vanderbilt University where we were greeted by ReChard Peel, Assistant Director of the Black Cultural Center. We were unable to see much of the school but we did learn about the Divine 9 fraternities/sororities of the NPHC. ReChard is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. He and our chaperone Ms. August shared about the value of these organizations such as service, brotherhood/sisterhood, and making connections. Next we visited the NMAAM (National Museum of African American Music). This wasn’t your typical museum, it was an interactive and immersive experience. We learned about the roots of African American music and its significance to our community. We had the chance to make our own beats, record music, and learn popular dance moves. To make a beat we had to combine a melody, percussion sound, bass, and sound effect. We stepped into a dance studio as a group and followed along with on-screen dancers. Our favorite part of the museum was entering the recording booth to make music. We had the chance to freestyle and have a rap battle. Other students listened to music both familiar and unfamiliar to us in the genres of R&B, Hip-Hop, and gospel music. NMAAM was a big hit and we hope many others come to Nashville to visit the museum.
Civil Rights Room, Fisk, and Meharry
Writers: Kingston Little & Judith Lara (8th Grade Students)
After leaving NMAAM we visited the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library, Fisk University, and Meharry Medical College. In the Civil Rights Room, Courtney Buggs our presenter shared with us the tens rules used to teach students how to execute a sit-in protest. Two of those rules were “Don’t laugh out loud” and “Maintaining a good posture”. It was important to not laugh because the sit-ins were serious and students had to demonstrate it. It was important to maintain good posture because this demonstrated strength, stability, and and respect. Next we visited Fisk University for a campus tour. During this tour we learned about a bell that once was atop Jubilee Hall, the first building built on campus. The bell was first used as a signal for when the KKK were approaching campus. It was later moved and is now rung when Fisk sports teams win games. Fisk has a small student population and class sizes. It was the first HBCU to charter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Honor society. We concluded our tour in Jubilee Hall learning about the famous Jubilee singers whose performances raise money for Fisk. Lastly, our last stop for the day, Meharry Medical College. Although we weren't able to tour the campus we stopped for a photo-op, Meharry is known for being one of the top medical schools in the country and is a distinguished HBCU. Our day concluded with food, fun, and games at Dave and Busters!! Were having a great time together and are looking forward to Tennessee State University on Thursday.
Day 2 Blog Post - 11.1.22
Tuesday, November 1 - Rhodes College & Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
Writers: Tyrell Durden and Chloe Major (7th Grade Students)
We began our day with a visit to Rhodes College. Once we arrived, we were greeted by Megan Starling, Rhodes College Director of Admissions. We ate breakfast at the Refractory, but Rhodes students call it the “rat”. While eating, Ms. Starling shared more about the college. We were able to learn things such as: their top major, Biology, and their fastest growing major, Computer science. We also learned that their school has a 100% acceptance rate for Law School students. Next, we took a tour around the Rhodes beautiful campus!! It reminded us of Hogwartz in Harry Potter. We saw the school’s library, liberal arts department, the Linx statue, and more significant memorials of the school. The funniest and the most memorable part of this visit was seeing a picture of Mr.Rooney’s face in his college days. His photo hung in the Alumni Hall of Fame hallway!
Later on in the day we visited the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum which was originally a home owned by a German man, Jacob Burkel. Mr. Burkel would use his home as a stop on the underground railroad helping runaway slaves. During our visit we saw the living styles of the runaway slaves and where/ how they escaped. The most significant part of this experience was when we went down to the basement where the runaway slaves would hide. Slaves would have to remove bricks in the back of the house, revealing a trap door. Slaves would then crawl beneath the house until they reached a very small basement space. They typically remained for 1-2 days before Mr. Burkel could help them get to the Mississippi river.
Stax Museum & Stax Music Academy
Writers: Christy Andrews and Shakina Powell (8th Grade Students)
Our second stop was The Stax Museum & Soulsville Foundation! While we were at The Stax Museum the first thing we did was watch a 15 minute film about the history of Stax Records. Once we finished we were introduced to our tour guide, Keosha a graduate of the Soulsville Charter School. While walking through the thoroughly decorated museum we saw things such as interactive exhibits, films, stage costumes, musical instruments, and vintage recording equipment used at Stax records. Our tour guide Koesha was very engaged with us! We made lots of conversation and even made some dancing tik-toks! Once we finished touring the museum part of Stax we continued on to the gift shop to grab cool Stax souvenirs. After our little break at the Stax gift shop we moved on to tour the Stax Music Academy! During our tour we saw lots of students in class being interactive, we heard people warming up their vocals, and we got to step inside of their small but great recording studio! As we concluded our tour of the Stax Music Academy we were all surprised with a wonderful music performance by some graduates of The Stax Music Academy. Finally, we refueled ourselves with some delicious quesadillas on the bus as we headed to our next stop! Overall everyone enjoyed the Stax experience and thought that it was a great place to grow musically, maybe we’ll visit again one day.
Alex Haley Home
Writers: Tristan Patterson and Olivia Beard (7th Grade Students)
The last stop of the day was Alex Haley's home, everyone was tired and ready to go back to the hotel for the day. Alex Haley was born on August 11, 1921. Mr. Hailey was an author, screenwriter, historian, military personnel, journalist, biographer, and novelist. Mr. Haley is best known for works depicting the struggles of African Americans. In the aftermath of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, writing and lecturing offers for Haley began pouring in, and he could have easily lived out his lifelong dream of being a successful independent scribe. Something that I found interesting about Alex Haley is that his family got special permission to bury Mr. Haley in his front yard. A fact that interested most of us is that when his grandmother would wash clothes and did not want to waste the bucket of soapy water, she would tell everybody in the house that they need to take a bath in the water instead of wasting it.
After a long day of going from place to place, everyone got on the bus and just hung out. Some of us took naps and some of us just chatted with friends, some even watched Tiktok the whole ride. When we arrived at the hotel, we sat down in the kitchen area, ate pizza and debriefed about our day. If we have to rate this day out of 10 we both would give it a solid 8, we only give it a 8 because we all had to walk a whole bunch but the experience was interesting.
Day 1 Blog Post - 10.31.22
Departure, National Civil Rights Museum and The Mason Temple
Writers: Amari Zellars, Raegan Howard, and Kaliyah Smith (7th Grade Students)
At 8am we left Atlanta for our first Civil Rights and College Tour as 7th graders!! We were excited and left AYA with cheers from AYA students, teachers, and our parents. The drive to Memphis was long but being with our classmates made it funny/enjoyable. Around 1pm we arrived at our first stop, the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. We were greeted by the museum’s newly elected president, Dr. Russ Wigginton. The first section of the museum shared the tragic history of slavery. After that we looked at a 12 minute short film about the challenges African Americans have faced beginning from slavery to the Jim Crow era. Another section of the museum let us listen to African Americans speak about what they experienced facing Jim Crow laws. There was section of the museum with a old bus that was segregated and had a seated statue of Rosa Parks. We entered the bus, sat down and talked about what it was like to be segregated based on the color of your skin. Other areas of the museum taught us about sit-in movements, the Black Panther Party, and the Sanitation protests in Memphis. It was uncomfortable, at first, to view the room where Dr. King would have spent the final hours of his life before being assassinated. After leaving the museum we stopped by the Mason Temple, for a photo since it was closed to the public. The Mason Temple is the location of Dr. King last speech, the Mountaintop speech. The Mason Temple is the world headquarters for the Church of God in Christ denomination. Dr. King would be killed the next day after giving his mountaintop speech.
The University of Memphis, Central BBQ and Costume Party
Writers: Christopher Dalton and Radriannah Holloway (8th Grade Students)
Following our visit to the Lorraine motel and Mason Temple we visited the University of Memphis.. We were greeted by Raina Williams a 2015 graduate of Atlanta Youth Academy, along with other University of Memphis students. Professors taught us about set and performance techniques: knot tying and quick changing. We enjoyed competing in the quick change which is when you change a performer’s clothes behind stage before their next scene. The challenge is being able to change the performer’s clothes in under 1 minute. We accomplished the quick change in 22 seconds! Next ,we started took a tour of the Department of Theatre and dance. We saw the dance studios and the prop shop where they cut wood for them to construct the set for a play. Then we went to a lab room where they did rehearsals . In the lab room they lay out shapes on the floor using tape so they know where the set and other props would be. This was important because performers learn where they are supposed to stand during their performance. Then we checked into our hotel and changed into our costumes for the costume party. We were also hungry and couldn’t wait to get to Central BBQ to eat!! Following dinner we came back to the hotel and had a debrief about our day. Then we had our costume party which included music, candy, bingo, charades and a costume competition. The costume party included silliest, most creative, and best 7th and 8th grade costumes. One of the funniest costumes were three 8th graders that dressed at Mario, Luigi, and Wario from the Mario Bros. game. Our first day of the Civil Rights and College Tour was entertaining, challenging, and enjoyable.