Five months after they visited the American South on a life-changing tour through civil rights history, Morgan Park Academy students are set to be featured in a documentary film about the experience produced by The Nation magazine.
MPA seventh- and eighth-grade students and teachers toured from Jackson, Mississippi, to Atlanta, Georgia, last February under the guidance of André Robert Lee, a teacher, producer, and acclaimed documentary filmmaker with years of experience leading civil rights tours in the South.
With global studies at the core of its curriculum, MPA partnered with The Nation because of their expertise in presenting this emotionally complex material to middle school students in a way that teaches the history of the Civil Rights Movement thoughtfully, honestly, and delicately, while also teaching students the significance of the role the individual plays in determining the direction a society moves towards or away from justice.
Traveling from Jackson, Mississippi, through the Mississippi Delta to Little Rock, Arkansas, and on to Memphis, Tennessee, students visited the sites and talked with some of the leaders of this important era of U.S. history. From there the group went to Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, finally ending the journey in Montgomery at the Lynching Museum and the Equal Justice Initiative. (See the full itinerary.)
Students were interviewed for the documentary, which has been released as a 5-minute short and will be released soon as a full-length piece.
“My generation’s role is to continue on the fight that their ancestors started,” said Caitlin, a rising eighth-grader. “Because it’s not over, and I want to make sure people remember that.”
“This isn’t just Black history. It’s American history,” said Josiah, a rising freshman.
The experience was coordinated by Colleen Amberg, who leads development of MPA’s social studies curriculum and directs the middle school global studies program.
“This trip changed my life,” Mrs. Amberg said. “Since we got back, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about it. It was even more meaningful and historic than we anticipated, and drove home how fortunate I feel to work in a school that is so supportive of and committed to developing globally minded citizens.”