Fifteen Marion City Schools high school students traveled to Atlanta earlier this month to explore the rich cultural history of the Civil Rights Movement and visit two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The four-day trip, which lasted from Oct. 10 through Oct. 14, was funded through a Racial Equity and Justice Grant through the Marion Community Foundation awarded to Logos Christian Ministries after Logos Ministries Pastor Jackie Peterson and Marion City Schools Board Member Tara Dyer applied for the funding.
Through $15,500 in grant funding, the “Logos Freedom Ride Trip” had the cost of housing, food and flights taken care of for the students – many of whom were first-time flyers.
Marion City Schools Diversity and Equity Supervisor Johnnie Jackson helped lead and supervise the students on the trip. He said he took a similar trip when he was a student at Harding High School.
“They really had the vision of taking Black high school students to Atlanta to experience Civil Rights and Black history and culture in Atlanta, and you know also to do a Historically Black College and University tour of Spelman and Morehouse,”
Students learned about what Atlanta meant to the Civil Rights Movement and walked where Black history happened, including taking a visit to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church and receiving a lecture there. They also took tours of Spelman College and Morehouse College, two historically Black colleges in the city.
All high school grades were represented on the trip, and Jackson said students were selected based upon recommendations from Marion City Schools staff, parents, church members and community members. While some of the students were older and had already attended college tours, it was the first time visiting historically black colleges for most of the students.
“That’s what made this trip really interesting because you had freshmen just getting into high school, really thinking about their high school journey and what might be next as far as career and college,” Jackson said.
“And then you have on the other end of the spectrum of seniors that are at the end of high school thinking about their next journey, so it was a nice book end, almost like the beginning of a book and the end of a book.”
Jackson himself took a similar trip to Atlanta when he was a student at Harding, and he said the trip still impacted him for years to come, making it meaningful to now share with his students.
“I know that it was years later that it really impacted me, so I’m looking forward to them really getting out into their community and telling their story about how transformative it was to go to Atlanta,” he said.
Student finds belonging in HBCU visit
Harding senior, Caden Jones, was motivated to check out Morehouse because he has considered attending a historically Black college or university in the fall. It has also been an opportunity to share a family legacy with his mother, Candace Floyd, who went on the trip with Jackson when she was in high school.
“The most meaningful part of the experience I had down there was how comfortable I felt even just off the rip being around people of my own culture and struggles, you know I can relate with everybody. I don’t feel like an outcast, like you can sometimes feel around here with all the racial stuff,” Jones said.
He said he is looking into applying to Morehouse after his experience on the trip.
“The little visit was very impactful, like the campus seemed great,” he said.
Jackson said he hopes to be able to take Marion City Schools students to visit Central State and Wilberforce universities, which are in the Dayton area, to check out historically Black colleges closer to home, and Floyd said she is planning a trip with her son to support him in his hopes of attending an HBCU.
She said she is grateful her son got the chance to go on the trip and share the experience with her. She hopes the trip encourages the students expand their dreams and understanding of the opportunities available to them.
“Like maybe they don’t want to go to that school, but they’re like, ‘Oh I do like Atlanta’ or ‘I do like the south,’ there’s so much more out there and I hope it helps them think beyond,” she said.
“Not that Marion’s not great. I love my hometown – obviously I came back to it – but it’s good to go out, spread your wings, learn some things, and it actually helps your community here.”
Story by: Sophia Veneziano (740) 564 – 5243 ∣ email@example.com