Akili’s 8th Grade Civil Rights Tour


The charter bus rolled out at 7 a.m. with 23 sleepy-eyed but excited 8th graders and their chaperones headed for Atlanta with a stop along the way to visit Tuskegee University. While at Tuskegee, scholars toured the campus and learned about the Tuskegee Airmen who were the first African American men and women trained to maintain and fly combat aircraft. Once in Atlanta, the scholars visited The King Center and saw the house where Dr. King grew up and the church where his father was a pastor.

At the Center for Civil and Human Rights, several students participated in a lunch counter sit-in demonstration. Kristen Parfait, an Akili teacher & chaperone, describes it. “They were sitting at the counter to see how long they could last. It had people yelling in their ears, pushing them. The next day Le’shyra and Mariah both told me that they didn’t think they would have been that brave because it was really scary. I told them those were just regular people like them who were pushed to bravery because of their circumstances. Le’shyra said ‘Well I do think I would take a stand if I was put in that situation, too.’ And Mariah said,’Yes, you are right, it’s easier when you’re not doing it alone.’ ’’

While in Atlanta, the students also toured the CNN Studios, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University. On their way back to New Orleans, they visited Montgomery and stopped at The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice where 8th grader, Le’Shyra recalled, “It taught us about our past  and helped us understand the trials and tribulations our ancestors went through in order to get to where we are today.” Akili scholars experienced first-hand everything they had learned about civil rights history, the work that has been done, and the work that still needs to be done.