The Birmingham Pledge

During the break-out sessions the day before the trip, Mrs. Camp, Mrs. Hermosillo, and Mrs. Jiménez wrapped up the immigration unit that all language students had been working on. We watched a short clip watching an American deli-counter worker being discriminated by a patron for his religion. After the video, students reflected on how they would react if they saw that situation. To end the session, Mrs. Hermosillo talked to the students about the Birmingham Pledge.

The Birmingham Pledge is an oath aimed at eliminating racial prejudice. Jim Rotch developed the idea in 1997, and it has since evolved into a non-profit organization, the Birmingham Pledge Foundation. This organization focuses on building alliances between neighborhoods, with a focus on teens. A Birmingham Pledge mural covers the east side of the Birmingham Police Headquarters building on 1st Avenue North.

This morning, Pace students walked from the 16th Street Baptist Church to the site of the mural. We were so excited to see that the actual mural looks just like the mural we created on the 8th grade hall. When we decided to do the hands for our Tuesday session, we had no idea what the actual mural looked like. So far, this trip has been an amazing adventure with very special connections made.

– Holly Jiménez

Pace Mural

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Mural in Birmingham

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Trip Preparation

Before the 8th grade even left for the Civil Rights Trip, the French, Spanish, and Latin students did a combined three day unit that focused on immigrants in the United States who speak Spanish and French. These groups of individuals have faced struggles of their own. The purpose of the unit was to make connections between our language studies, and the upcoming trip. Then the Tuesday before the trip, the the 8th grade spent the entire day in an assembly format. This assembly day will served as a pre-cursor to the trip.

As part of the assembly day, the Middle School was proud to welcome Reverend Dr. Michael Neely Harris & his wife Mrs. Sylvia Harris, pastor of the famous Wheat Street Baptist Church here in Atlanta. Dr. and Mrs. Harris gave a first-hand account of their experiences as participants of the Civil Rights Movement during a 45 minute panel discussion. The panel discussion, moderated by Diversity Director Rick Holifield, took place first thing in the morning. After the speakers, the entire class was divided into four groups who participated in break-out sessions lead by 8th grade faculty members.

The sessions were as follows:

  • Microaggressions = Kevin Coale & Rick Holifield
  • Immigration = Edna-May Hermosillo, Holly Jiménez & Emily Camp
  • Biographies = Pete Pope & Andrew Heacock
  • Women = Jane Sibley & Katharine Norton

The sessions were followed by a movie and re-cap discussion.

Tuesday Tuesday

Civil Rights Trip – Day 1

Stretching our legs in a “magical time machine” at the Rosa Parks Museum was a relief after a long bus ride. That certainly did not take away from the important stories that we heard about civil rights cases. Many pictures depicted the emotions of discriminated black people. We experienced Rosa Park’s true story through a video reenactment. She was treated with severe rudeness even though she had not broken the law.

Our next stop was where we got to learn about the march. We answered a questionnaire in the museum using the information around us. The journey for the marchers lasted five restless days full of danger. We learned about the role President Lyndon B. Johnson and Governor George Wallace had to play during and after the march.

To finish off the day, we spent some time goofing off at a science museum. It was surprising that bubbles, steam, and mind-games could entertain us all. We have had a great first day, especially with the surprise visit from Mrs. Hayes.

By: Nicole O

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