Living history

Published 9:10 pm Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome to living history.

Monday afternoon, more than 130 students, teachers and parents from across the nation came to Selma with the Sojourn to the Past to live and learn history of the civil rights era.

The group has been touring the South since its beginning in 1999 by Jeff Steinberg, a teacher of 14 years in the Bay Area of San Francisco who wanted to show high school students the real history, instead of what they read in textbooks.

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“It changes lives,” said Steinberg about the trip.

“We try to get young kids to learn about the sacrifices of the civil rights movement and who better to find than the people of Selma, Alabama.”

Through a highly emotional and eye opening ten-day journey to a period of segregation in the Deep South, the students learn the history behind racism in the United States and reflect upon their ability to embrace diversity and become an active advocate for social justice.

“It’s taught me so much about strength and how anybody can be a hero,” said Michelle Taylor, a student from Mills High School in San Francisco. “And that I do matter in this world and I can make a difference.”

The trip started at Clarke Elementary School where Lawrence Huggins talked to the students about the Teachers’ March before moving on to Brown Chapel and First Baptist Church to learn about their roles in the civil rights area.

Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., who was one of the original marchers 45 years ago, capped off the trip with a special appearance to walk over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in silence with the students.

Lewis was happy to see that such a large group came out to learn about the struggles that he and so many others went through.

“It was very moving,” said Lewis. “These young people weren’t even a dream when we walked across the bridge. It is gratifying and it is very moving to see them get an understanding of what it was like during the late fifties and sixties all across the south.”

Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the little rock nine, spoke of what it meant that today’s students were going through

“It’s inspiring,” said Trickey. “I get inspired by the kids. History is not really told, and this helps kids understand that young people are apart of the fabric of the country and make change.”