Tip O' the Horn
The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

Photo by Teddy Zitron
D'var Torah
March 15, 2024

Civil Rights Trip 2020 Lasts One Day: Covid-19 Cuts Short the HBHA-UA Joint Experience

Civil+Rights+Trip+2020+Lasts+One+Day%3A+Covid-19+Cuts+Short+the+HBHA-UA+Joint+Experience

Slider photo by Ben Fine

This year the 9th and 10th grade students of Hyman Brand and the National Honor Society members of University Academy in Kansas City, Mo. worked together to learn about Civil Rights Movement history in order to embark together on a meaningful journey to the South. Although the trip only lasted one day instead of eight, the students learned many valuable lessons from their preparation for the experience.

We began our learning with mentoring sessions. During these sessions, the 9th and 10th graders met in the beit midrash, and either R. Gina Renee, Dr. Michael Bannen, or Principal Todd Clauer would give a presentation over a certain event in Civil Rights history. We learned about topics ranging from women in the Civil Rights movement to the Freedom Riders.

In October, we took a field trip with University Academy (UA) students to The Coterie Theater to see the play, “Rise Up: The Struggle of the Freedom Riders” by Lisa Evans. The play was about ordinary people joining the Freedom Riders to protest discrimination against African Americans. After watching the play, we had a group conversation about what we learned. Then we split into groups to eat lunch and to get to know each other. We also discussed what we  knew about the Civil Rights Movement.

After this field trip we continued our education by watching the movie “Selma” directed by Ava DuVernay. The movie taught us about the movement for fair voting rights led by Martin Luther King Jr. and about the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. On the trip, we were supposed to visit the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the march took place. We also listened to a lecture Professor Dave Tell about Emmet Till’s murder in Mississipi and were supposed to visit Emmet Till sites as well.

 Over winter break, we read the book “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone, and it taught us about how there is still racism in the modern world and there is still much that needs to be changed. During winterims, we learned about Civil Rights every day of the week. In our classes, we split into groups to have more in depth conversations and made covers for our binders that addressed modern day movements that we feel passionate about. The binders were used to hold handouts we received during classes.

In January, we had our next field trip with the UA students. At the beginning of the day, we headed over to UA. When we got there, we taught each other about our schools, and ate lunch together. At this time, we got the opportunity to discuss our reading of “Dear Martin.” During the field trip, we participated in the Kansas City Race Tour, a bus tour about segregation in Kansas City. 10th grader Shir-el Rudnick said, “Being able to look at the differing communities and areas of Kansas City really helped me get a larger perspective of the segregation that occurs in Kansas.”

After this field trip, we continued our learning at our schools until our last meeting together in March. The UA students came to visit us at HBHA this time. We were split into teams for a social bonding exercise. A speaker came in named Leo Morton who grew up in Birmingham, Ala., during the Civil Rights Movement. After all of this preparation, we were finally ready to depart on our trip. On Mar. 12, we met at UA bright and early in the morning to get going. After saying our goodbyes, we got on the bus and began our drive down to Little Rock, Ark.. After many hours of driving we stopped at a rest stop to eat lunch and enjoy the outdoors, and finished our drive to Little Rock Central High School once we finished eating.

The HBHA sophomores enjoying a brief lunch at a rest stop. Photo by Ben Fine

Upon  arriving, we went into the interpretive center and met our tour guide, Park Ranger Brian Schwieger, who taught us briefly about the history that happened at the high school and the Little Rock Nine. “I want students to have a better understanding of what really happened and not just the small portion that is taught or included in history books,” Schwieger said. After our lesson, we took a tour of the school and walked in the footsteps of the Little Rock Nine. 

“The tour guide at Central High School in Little Rock was one of the best guides I have ever experienced, and because this was our only Civil Rights stop – it was very meaningful for that to be the case on this year’s canceled/postponed trip,” said Clauer. After the tour, we explored the interpretive center a bit more and then we got on the bus to drive to Cleveland, Miss..

Park Ranger Brian Schwieger giving an oral presentation to the HBHA and UA students. Photo by Ben Fine

Once we arrived at the Hampton Inn in Cleveland, Miss., we ate a delicious dinner of enchiladas and rice, and after a little bit of down time, we went to the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Miss.. Students from both UA and HBHA enjoyed exploring the museum and learning more about the Grammy Awards. We returned to the hotel and settled down to get a good night’s rest. The next morning we headed over to Adath Israel for morning prayers. It had a beautiful sanctuary. Before departing, Clauer gathered us all in front of the synagogue and made the unfortunate announcement that we would be returning back to Kansas City immediately due to the rapidly worsening situation as Covid-19 spread across the nation. We all got on the bus and began the long ride back to Kan. There was definitely a somber mood throughout the ride.

HBHA and UA students exploring the vast selection of activities and exhibits the Grammy Museum has to offer. Photo by Ben Fine

UA student, Myaun Boyd said, “I am pretty disappointed that the trip was cut short. I was looking forward to all the sites we were going to visit, and the history we were going to experience up close.” 

Freshman Ben Fine said, “I was sad since we spent so long getting there and immediately turned around without doing much.”

Although our trip was cut short, it was fun while it lasted. We all learned a lot this year and hope that one day we will be able to visit all of the places that were supposed to be a part of the Civil Rights trip.

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