BURLINGTON — During a trip to the southeastern United States Nov. 1-6, a group of Catholic Central High School students met a former president and first lady and visited the sites of significant events in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

The 16 students and seven parents traveled to multiple states and many of the sites they visited followed the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Students visited sites in Springfield, Ill.; Memphis, Tenn.; Selma and Montgomery, Ala.; Tuskegee, Ala.; Columbus and Atlanta, Ga.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.; before heading back to Burlington.

Most notably, students were honored to attend former President Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school in Plains, Ga., where they had the opportunity to meet and briefly talk with Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

Some of the other stops on the trip included the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.; Dr. King’s birth home and childhood church in Atlanta, Ga.; Dr. King’s church and home in Montgomery, Ala.; and the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., site of the famous Selma-Montgomery march in 1965 as well as “Bloody Sunday” — when police attacked civil rights demonstrators with billy clubs and tear gas as they tried to march to Montgomery.

This trip was created and directed by Catholic Central High School social studies teacher Dan Meddaugh. Not only did students see some of the most important sites in the country’s history, they also traveled to two different civil rights museums, in Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta, Ga. At these museums, students learned about the nation’s history of human rights struggles, as well as the many civil and human rights issues that the country and world still face today.

Students were immersed in Southern culture, not only learning from spending time in the area, but also getting a chance to interact with citizens in a panel discussion that was held at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga. Students were able to ask topical questions to a group of Columbus citizens, being able to learn about current events from a different perspective.

Meddaugh plans on offering this trip at Catholic Central High School students biennially.

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