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Upper School Civil Rights Field Trip

By: Connor Leyden '24

The Rev. Kristin Elliott, the school director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with chemistry teacher Ms. Leslie George and history teacher Mr. Keith Mills, led a field trip in early June through Atlanta, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama. Students visited memorials, listened to firsthand accounts, and engaged in hands-on learning about the injustices and powerful stories of the Black experience in the South. This trip provided students with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the continual fight for civil rights and equality—from the Tuskegee Airmen to the Selma marches.

On the first day, the group toured Atlanta, visiting the historic Sweet Auburn district, which Forbes Magazine in 1965 called the “richest Negro street in the world.” The group also visited the King Center, one of Madame CJ Walker’s beauty salons, the 1996 Olympic torch, and significant sites including Dr. King’s birthplace and Ebenezer Baptist Church. Day two included a visit to the Atlanta Historic Society, a tour of Morehouse College, and a soul food dinner at Paschal’s, a frequent dining spot for Dr. King and other civil rights leaders.
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Days three and four took the group deeper into history as they traveled to Montgomery, Ala. In Montgomery, they explored sites like Dr. King’s house, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the Freedom Rides Museum, and the Mothers of Gynecology Museum, where the group learned about the dehumanizing medical experimentation on African American women and heard an engaging presentation from the museum’s curator. Students were deeply moved by the exhibits on enslavement and mass incarceration at the Legacy Museum. On the fifth day, the students visited Tuskegee University and the Tuskegee Airmen Museum.

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The field trip was generously supported by the Frank Snowden ’64 Fund, recently established by members of the Class of 1964 to honor their classmate. During the trip, students had a special opportunity to engage in a profound zoom meeting with Professor Frank Snowden ’64, the first African American alumnus of St. Albans and the Andrew Downey Orrick Professor Emeritus of History and the History of Medicine at Yale. This conversation extended their learning as Professor Snowden provided additional insights on the topics the students had explored during the trip. He also shared his personal experiences of visiting Montgomery and his time at St. Albans, enriching the students’ understanding of the history they were exploring. 
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Reflecting on the trip, the Rev. Kristin Elliott says “one particularly moving moment in the trip was when the students sat with Ms. JoAnne Bland to hear her first-hand account of participating in all three Selma marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 as an 11 year old.” The tour enabled students to expand their learning of the history of enslavement, the aftermath of lynching and Jim Crow, and the sacrifices made by so many throughout the Civil Rights Movement to call upon the United States to live up to its ideals.
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Located in Washington D.C.,  St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.