The Black Student Alliance provided a cultural opportunity for 14 members this weekend on a day trip to the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham, Ala.
Atlanta junior Eppiphanie Benton, BSA’s president, said the purpose of the trip was to provide an opportunity for students to learn about their history, and to encourage them to make a change.
“The purpose was to see what other college-aged students did individually and collectively to make social change at that time,” she said.
Then, when students are able to come back to WKU, they can also look to make that social change, she said.
Benton said the exhibits in the museum helped the learning environment because it provided something other than just classroom material.
“A lot of times we learn different things in our textbooks and class, but it never really makes an impact until you see actual artifacts, like the jail door that Martin Luther King sat in in Birmingham…” she said. “It helps you to put it into a different perspective.”
Benton also said the multiple ways the museum showed them the history made the experience different.
“It wasn’t just a video clip, it wasn’t just listening to a conversation,” she said. “It was a lot of different things — pictures and slideshows, and wax figures — all different sorts of things allowing you to visualize this history,” she said.
Benton said one of the perks of the museum was learning about those heroes other than the mainstream, well-known ones such as Rosa Parks.
“A lot of the time, we don’t learn about the select individuals in small towns who made a change in their community,” she said.
Benton said after only planning to tour the museum for an hour and a half, everyone was surprised to see that they had spent three hours in the museum.
“We talked about what we liked and didn’t like about the trip, and even though we stayed awhile, the only thing that people didn’t like was that they felt rushed to get through it all,” she said.
Russellville sophomore Kesi Neblett, also a senior at Gatton Academy, said she thought the museum was amazing.
“It was really very nice to see the role of Birmingham during the Civil Rights movement,” Neblett said. “To see that children and other people our age were marching was incredible.”
A discussion the students had following the trip raised the question as to how those people would feel about the students’ actions in today’s society.
Neblett said coming from a poor community, education is sometimes looked down upon, but she wants to set an example.
“They’d be somewhat pleased because I take my education seriously,” she said. “In that sense, it would be a good thing.”