American South: Activism & Leadership Through the Lens of the American Civil Rights Movement

This program provides students the opportunity to tie the past to the present by understanding the history of the Civil Rights Movement and considering its modern iterations in America. We will explore activism in action by examining the myriad leadership styles and strategies employed by trailblazers of the Civil Rights Movement, and use those lessons to inspire students to be agents of change in their own communities. We will begin our program in Atlanta, GA by delving into the early life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We will make stops throughout Alabama where we will visit such iconic sites as The Rosa Parks Bus Stop, The Legacy Museum, and Edmund Pettis Bridge. We will end our trip in Memphis, TN with live music and dancing at BB King’s Blues Club on Beale Street, where black traveling musicians started performing as early as the 1860’s. The final day of our journey will be spent at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968.  Students will return from this trip with greater empathy for those who are currently struggling for equity and/or justice, a greater sense of empowerment in their ability to be agents of change, and a greater sense of engagement and a willingness to not only stay informed about current social justice issues, but to also stay involved.

This program is open to all students with a preference towards students who have a demonstrated interest in activism, leadership, and/or African-American literature and history. All interested students are encouraged to apply by November 4. Financial aid is available for all trips with priority for students who have not previously received aid for a Deerfield trip.

Proposed Itinerary*:

Friday, March 6: Travel Day

Saturday, March 7: Atlanta, GA

  • Visit to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Park and engage in a service project with the organization Hands on Atlanta

Sunday, March 8: Atlanta, GA

  • Morning activity at Piedmont Park followed by lunch in Centennial Park neighborhood
  • In the afternoon we will visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights and drive to Montgomery, AL

Monday, March 9: Montgomery, AL

  • Morning visit to the Legacy Museum and afternoon visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Tuesday, March 10: Montgomery, AL

  • Morning visit to the Freedom Rides Museum and Civil Rights Memorial Center
  • Drive to Selma, AL
  • Walk through Bloody Sunday March Trail and walk over Edmund Pettus Bridge
  • Drive to Birmingham, AL

Wednesday, March 11: Birmingham, AL

  • Morning visit to tour the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the location of a 1963 bombing which killed four young girls, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
  • Afternoon drive to Memphis
  • Dinner, live music & dancing at BB Kings Blues Club

Thursday, March 12: Memphis, TN

  • Morning visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel
  • Fly home

*Itinerary is subject to change.

Program Notes: 

  • Families are responsible for transportation from the Memphis airport to the student’s destination for the remainder of March break.
  • During this trip students will stay in hotels and eat meals at the hotel and at local restaurants.

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