This week was our last week, and in honor of the end of the summer, we took the kids camping. I say camping lightly, because it was really car camping in an effort to cut costs. The first night we camped out in by Selma Alabama, and visited historical sights during the day (the Selma interpretive center and the Edmund Pettus Bridge). The next night, we camped out in Birmingham, and visited the National Civil rights institute and the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Bringing kids to these historical sights was incredible; I watched them make connections to their own lives in ways I hadn’t thought was possible. We saw the street that had previously segregated white and black neighborhoods in Selma, and understood that maybe things weren’t so different now. We watched kids contemplate their own realities: a public school with no white children and a private school across town known to be safer but not necessarily more academically rigorous; two completely separate neighborhoods for whites and blacks in the towns they live in, whites and blacks frequenting different restaurants, stores, etc. Segregation feels so recent here. The historical sights helped many of the kids see what the interns, many of whom are from northern cities, had long struggled with in the delta: maybe we haven’t in fact come so far.
Camping was a different story entirely. Many of these kids had never spent the night out doors, let alone been on a camping trip. The mere presence of a raccoon brought an hour of hysteria. In addition, I would recommend thinking hard about camping in the Deep South at the end of July. It was 105 during the day and not much cooler at night. And although the staffers were less than thrilled about the weather, the kids loved it. Raccoon trauma’s aside, the kids voraciously set up tents, cooked meals, and swam in the lake. It was an escape from their daily lives of monotony within the delta.
The students walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where the famous Selma to Montgomery voting rights march began.