American South #2: Uplifting A Community

Simisola Lawal ’23 and Songa Rwamucyo ’23, reflect on an impactful day of service. 

Simisola Lawal ’23:

Today’s experience was something like no other one I’ve had before. Not only did I and my fellow schoolmates walk in the neighborhood and see the home of Martin Luther King Jr., but we got to serve and interact with a community by feeding them food. There are many issues in America that branch out of the great amount of inequity in this country and food insecurity is a huge part of it. Something I learned was that a family can own a car and a home and still wonder if they will have dinner every night. My classmates and I were able to speak to the volunteer and board members of the non-profit organization called Hugs & Hope, who all shared a great passion for serving their community. We were also able to see the many families who drove in to get their packaged foods and were very grateful to have such a caring and giving group of people to help them have something to eat for their next meals.

We have so far been in Atlanta, Georgia for the past two days and I can already say it has been the best learning experience ever. The American South trip brings you face to face to the many unfortunate things that happen in the South but also shows the abundant amount of love, care, and passion people still have to uplift their communities.


Simisola Lawal ’23 handing out food at Hugs & Hope.


Simisola Lawal ’23 handing out food at Hugs & Hope.

Songa Rwamucyo ’23:

We started off the day by boarding our bus with Ms. Eartha, who is kin to the King family (as in Martin Luther King Jr.). We walked around the neighborhood that the King family lived in and saw the houses that these leaders lived in, and the various stores and schools that they interacted with. We saw the behind the scenes, and were exposed to a more human side of this movement. An important part of Ms. Eartha’s talk was highlighting the more unknown figures of the civil rights movement. We then stopped at the APEX Museum where we learned about African American history, however by starting before enslavement. This point was important as it exposed us to all the wonderful things that were achieved in Africa before enslavement interrupted that.

Finally, we volunteered at Hugs and Hope, a non-profit which aims to tackle food insecurity in the area. We spent the afternoon packing and handing out food to people in cars, drive through style, and after they closed we helped clean up. Their founder, Jeri Austin, told us that before the pandemic she would hug incoming people and really tried to personalize their experience, so we tried to duplicate that by calling people by their name and inquiring a bit about each person.

My take away from today was; Leadership is Service.


MLK’s Childhood Neighborhood – Old Fourth Ward

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