In May, eighth graders at Ella Baker Global Studies and Humanities Magnet School went on a civil rights tour in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma in Alabama. Seventh graders went to Washington D.C. to see national monuments and museums to learn about American history.

Minneapolis Schools Voices wrote about the trip plans back in December

Global studies teacher Sam Quincy said the students had many important takeaways from the trip. For many students the trip was their first airplane trip, and for most it was their first time away from their families. 

One of the most impactful experiences on the civil rights tour was the Legacy Museum, which tells Black history “from enslavement to mass incarceration.” There were no phones or photos allowed inside the museum, which Quincy said helped focus the students on what they were seeing.

Eighth graders visited the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama in May. The museum was founded by Bryan Stevenson, attorney and author of “Just Mercy,” to explain the legacy of Black Americans from slavery to modern day incarceration. Photo courtesy of Sam Quincy

“As you enter there’s this huge screen with these waves, and it’s taken off the coast of West Africa,” Quincy said. “It was at that moment every student really took it in– you could tell that they were getting serious.” 

The Legacy Museum has a lynching memorial for victims of lynchings in the U.S. by state. Students found the Minnesota piece, which included the three Black men lynched in Duluth in 1920. Quincy said that going into the trip, students knew the American South as a more racist place, and so seeing their own state’s history of violent racism was a learning experience.

The eighth graders visited Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta on their civil rights tour. Teacher Sam Quincy said that the students were surprised to hear that the civil rights leader went by “Little Mike” as a child. Photo courtesy of Sam Quincy

The students also took a detour to Selma and walked the Edmund-Pettus Bridge, which the students had learned about in class.

Another takeaway from the civil rights tour that students voiced was how many Black people had an impact in businesses, restaurants and cultures, compared to Minneapolis. 

Students visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, which memorializes the victims of lynchings across the United States. Photo courtesy of Sam Quincy

The seventh graders’ trip to Washington D.C. was museum and monument-heavy, so students learned to push through their exhaustion to see the sights. Some highlights for them were the National Museum of African American Culture and Heritage and the National Museum of the American Indian. For the seventh graders, Quincy said that the biggest takeaway was independence on their first time away from home. 

The great news for Quincy and Ella Baker students is that the school included funding for the civil rights and Washington D.C. trips in next year’s budgets, meaning every seventh and eighth grader next year will have the opportunity to go on their respective trip, free of charge.