Day 1: Patti Labelle Civil Rights Celebration

MARCH 7, 2015
In order to fully experience the aftermath of the civil rights movement, five students from FNN were chosen to travel to Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery. I am happy to say that I was one of those five. On the day of the trip, we all met at the airport and introduced ourselves. Once the plane was ready, Alabama was only two short plane rides away. When we finally landed, there was a clear difference between the DC we left behind and the unfamiliar country we were staring at.                            For one, the state of Alabama had very warm weather. After transitioning from a snow covered city, I realized that anyone would be envious of the early summer-like climate in Alabama. Our reporters piled into a spacious van and were driven to a hotel in Montgomery where we would stay. All of us were excited about the trip and the long day ahead of us.        One of the main highlights of the day was the Patti Labelle concert. It was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march. The dome at Alabama State University was filled with thousands of fans for the main event: Patti Labelle. I was compelled to cover my ears the entire time, for the combined yelling of fans and Patty's talented singing were much too loud for my ears. The opening act was also great, with a male singer who won the Voice. I left the concert with an experience that not too many people have.
     Upon returning to the hotel, everyone was exhausted. I'm sure everyone practically fell into their beds if they didn't stay up a few more hours. The long day was the first one of our trip in Alabama, and there are still two more to go. It should all be worth it in order to experience history.                              - Brionna Wiggins, 8th grade Friendship Woodridge Academy.


Today is Saturday, March 7th, 2015. After our two flights from DC, we have finally arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. The flights weren't long and everything went pretty smoothly. After we landed, we went to the hotel to rest and get dolled up for the Patti Labelle concert. I was so excited to go since my grandmother and aunt always talked about her and her legacy. My excitement came to a pause when I realized that I really couldn't name any of her songs. So, I decided to research some of her music and her legacy on the way to the concert and the names of the songs still didn't ring a bell. Once we arrived to the concert and she actually started to perform, she caught my attention with everything she did. I really actually did know a lot of her songs and Isung along to every last one of them. She was such a diva and really added that extra umph to the 50th Anniversary March Celebration.  
- Rydia Wright, senior, Friendship Tech Prep Academy.

March 7, 2014. So far, this trip has been filled with exciting moments and experiences. The students are able to see and learn something each day that involves the history of the March in Selma 50 years ago. Going back to those years, African American women and men were unable to vote and if they were, most likely they had to have passed an unfair, difficult test made for only us Black Americans. I am thankful for having this opportunity to meet and greet a few people who took part in the actual movement.
     During the first day in Alabama, the students and I got a big opportunity to go see the one and only Patti Labelle. How wonderful it was to see her perform on stage. Although we didn't get a chance to interview her, we got a chance to hear her say a few words while singing and watch her express her feelings on stage about Bloody Sunday.                                      - Taila Bennett, 8th grade, Friendship Woodridge Academy.

At 6 am this morning when I woke to leave for the trip, I didn't know what to expect. Rydia and I arrived at the airport around 7:05 am and were happy to see Ms.Kaufman. We met her partner John and I think he's awesome. He's quiet but laughs at all our jokes and looks at ms.Kaufman with a special eye. We also met two eighth graders from Woodridge (Taila and Brionna). They were nice.  We boarded our first flight at 8:20 am at Ronald Reagan airport. It was a hour and 45 minutes. I didn't know what to expect considering this was the first time I ever got on a plane. It wasn't as horrifying as it seems. It was actually calming.  I sat next to this college student who was heading home for a little while. We chatted about what college I wanted to attend and my major. We both fell asleep. Waking up just as the plane was descending was actually the first time I felt nervous. We had a layover in Atlanta. We sat in Atlanta for about and hour and discussed the itinerary and chatted about what we had for lunch. As we began to board our second plane, I felt this feeling of contentment. I mean, I could really see myself traveling the world. I boarded the plane and had a window seat. I literally watched the entire process of the plane being checked, it going around the runway and the take off. I even got video of the take off. The best part about the trip was the take off of both planes. It's fascinating to me at least. When we landed in Montgomery Alabama, we rented a van and headed to out hotel. We checked into Sleep Inn and Suites, then unpacked for about 30 minutes. We headed to lunch and began our briefing and media training. Teaching others is really calming. It teaches you patience and gives you this sense of importance. Working with Brionna and Taila on their media training skills was nice. After the briefing everyone went and got ready for the Patti Labelle Concert at Alabama State University. I see why they call her the Queen of Soul. Every song she sang was amazing and every note she hit touched your soul. I couldn't keep still in my chair. I enjoyed the show and was happy to be a part of this trip.                                      - Reina Tindle, senior, Friendship Tech Prep Academy.

Saturday March 7th, 2015 -  We flew from DC to Atlanta, then to Montgomery, Alabama. The weather was beautiful, wasn’t what I was expecting after coming from my home city. It was moderately cold while in DC but stepping outside of the airport in Alabama was like the summer—kind of like a sudden shift in weather as if someone was flicking the light switch on in a dark room. I was still in boots and cracked a couple jokes to myself saying, “I’m a little reckless for wearing boots in the seemingly 60 degree weather.” A white van was waiting for us outside that we used to drive us to our hotel. It was a nice hotel with a small pool that I couldn’t have attended because I forgot to pack swimming trunks. We traveled around a little going out to eat, taking photos, and gathering groceries (which included a chocolate cake for Taila’s birthday) for the upcoming march that would be tomorrow. As it was getting dark, we were on our way to Alabama State University. To my surprise, there was a Patti LaBelle concert featuring Luke Wade. It was my first concert and the experience overall was wonderful—vibrant colors flashing, the bass thumping in my stomach, and the joyous atmosphere the music and acoustics created. Our group left the HBCU...some tired, some hungry while I was pumped, ready to eat and wide awake from the feel of the concert. We rode to a Burger King to pick up dinner and then went to our hotel to call it a night.                                                                - Michael Wood, senior, Friendship Tech Prep Academy.