More than fifty years ago, activists directly confronted the bigotry, discrimination, and oppression that threatened the founding vision of the United States.

Each year, up to 40 of our high school students participate in our signature experience, the E.L. Haynes Civil Rights Tour of the South, to learn from the legacy of the individuals who worked tirelessly to ensure a more equitable and just future for generations to come. We are committed to providing meaningful, first-hand signature learning opportunities like this to our students. 

The Civil Rights Tour of the South Group Photo
The inaugural group of students who participated in the Civil Rights Tour of the South in 2013 seated in front of a statue of Booker T. Washington at his home, The Oaks.

Launched in 2013, the trip was developed by Barrie Moorman while serving as the high school’s US History teacher. In recognition of her work engaging students in history in and out of the classroom, she was named DC History Teacher of the Year and received the Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014.

Civil Rights Tour of the South at Equal Justice Initiative
Haynes Alum, Jeo Zuniga, examines the soil samples from the sites of lynchings at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery (2017).

Each year on this week-long trip, students research and tour historical sites of the Civil Rights Movement, interview individuals essential to civil rights struggles, and share their experiences back with the broader community. Students travel by bus from Washington, DC to Greensboro, NC, to Atlanta, GA, then on to Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, AL, then through Tennessee and finally back to DC. Over the course of their travels, students visit major landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, including the International Civil Rights Center in Greensboro, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, as well as the King Center in Atlanta, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Equal Justice Initiative, the 16th Street Baptist Church, among many others. In addition to bearing witness to these important sites, students also meet with activists currently engaged in furthering the work that started more than 50 years ago. Students reflect on two essential questions throughout the week. First, how did the Civil Rights Movement mobilize to expand democracy for Black Americans? And second, how can I/we organize for justice and take action to create change in our communities?

Civil Rights Tour of the South at 16th St. Baptist Church
“I was so touched by everything I learned today, especially when we went to the 16th Street Baptist Church. I really felt the power and love of the community. Their energy was so empowering that it made me think even deeper on how I can make a change in my community and help my people, my loved ones.” —Natalie Hernandez, 11th grade

In 2018, one of the participating students said this about the trip: “This trip is an experience like no other. The things I have gotten to see, learn, or relearn have been soul touching. From sitting in the sanctuary at Ebenezer Baptist Church to walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, this trip allowed me to connect on so many levels with those who have made a difference. It has challenged me as a leader and has driven me to think about what I need to do to make a greater change…”

This year, the Civil Rights Tour of The South will take place from April 8 to April 14, 2020. Follow our students and their experiences on Instagram (@ELHCivilRights).

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