January 2nd, 2016
On the first Saturday in 2016 CAYLI set off on an adventure that would change their perspective of the history as it pertains to Civil and Human Rights forever. Tameka Roberts, advisor, took program participants and parents to the Center of Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta, GA. The museum is an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. There are a variety of Galleries to explore, however the most astonishing gallery was the American Civil Rights gallery. In this gallery our students were exposed to racial injustice as well as Civil Rights achievements.
Upon entering this gallery our students immediately viewed murals, whites only and colored only, that depicted segregation by the color of skin. The two very different, yet the same murals held collage photographs of happiness, families, and success for each race yet color still separated the two.
Students proceeded through the doors and witnessed walls of Jim Crow Laws which were state and local laws which enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. As they pressed different states different cruel and unusual laws popped up, such as “Black men caught dating white woman would be jailed and fined” or “Whites are superior to blacks in all ways.” The most touching and eye opening depiction of racial injustice was the Woolworth's Counter Sit-In Simulation. Students were instructed to sit at the counter, place a pair of headphones on their ears and keep their hands on the countertop. Behind the headphones student heard racial taunting, murderous threats and felt pounding under their seats as if they were being shaken out of their seats. Some students, if not all were touched dramatically by the racial injustice those before them tolerated. One student in particular, left the simulation initiating "they lied to us!” meaning his teachers and classroom history books. He was very dissatisfied with the lessons he had been taught. His mother began to walk with him and shared her views about what she had experienced growing up in the south. As the students ventured through the museum, they saw the disadvantages and advantages of peaceful retaliation and demonstration. Each student left with a new perspective of Civil Rights as they watched powerful speeches by many powerful Civil Rights Leaders as if they were in the very crowds themselves.
This outing was more than just a trip for the students; it was a humbling informative advantage. Witnessing the birth of the Civil Rights movement grow a sense of respect for bridge builders, who persevered for our freedom today.
We are thankful to the community partners and donors who funded this experience for our youth!