2017 Day Two – Atlanta
by Haley Price
Day 2 started off great. I had a full night of sleep and a pretty good breakfast. All 23 of us were on the bus exactly at 9:30. When Libby got up and announced that the daily journals would start today, I immediately wanted to volunteer because Civil Rights is my favorite thing to learn in history, and today we would be meeting with Reverend Williams and go to the house Martin Luther King Jr grew up in. Little did I know, I didn’t have to volunteer. I was asked to write today’s journal! I was so excited.
We went to the Pencil Factory where we learned about the unfair trial of the Jewish man Leo Frank who was convicted of the murder of the 13 year old girl, Mary Phagen. Josh told the story of Leo Frank which included that the KKK hung Leo Frank and we later find out that he wasn’t even the murderer. Josh also mentioned that:
-As high as 60% of the White people who came down from the North to be involved in the Civil Rights struggle in the 60s were Jews and we only make 1-2 percent of the population
– The first wave of Jewish immigrants to the South in the late 1880s just wanted to blend in with their Southern communities by dressing like everyone and having Christmas trees in their house. Later, Eastern European Jews came to the South nd they were more religious and kept their traditions pretty obvious to Americans rather than blending in. They dressed differently, ate differently, and had Friday services rather than Sunday ones. They embarrassed the Reform Jews for not blending in
After we left the Pencil Factory, a debate on the bus arose about discrimination and private businesses.
Next we went to an exciting place- Martin Luther King Jr’s childhood home! It was quite big. Two stories in a pretty neighborhood on a famous street. I would later find out that Martin Luther King Jr grew up in an upper/middle class family; his dad (Daddy King) was a famous preacher at Ebenezer Church on the same street. Sweet Auburn Avenue which was called “sweet” because it held several thriving businesses and banks owned by Black people. It was sweet because of its prosperity.
The Auburn Street Market where we went for lunch was super interesting. We encountered foods from all around the world in their own little sections selling authentic yummy goodness.
Julie Rhodes, the AIDS Quilt Executive Director spoke the history of AIDS in America and the history of the AIDS Quilt. She added a personal narrative about knowing several friends dying of Aids in the 80’s and today 60 million people are affected. A young man, Andrew, then spoke about his personal story catching HIV and how each morning when he takes his meds he makes a decision how he wants to spend the 24 hours that the pill gives him. He was very real and spoke about his crumbling relationship with his parents as well as teaching us that hugging someone infected will not make you catch the disease.
Lastly, today was the second time I heard one of the the most influential speakers preach. Reverend Williams from Atlanta worked directly with Martin Luther King Jr during the Civil Rights Movement. Reverend Williams was one of the people that made Black and White equality exist today. It’s a shame that he is not more famous because the words that he spoke made me cry and took my breath away. He is almost 93 and still preaching at his local church. I heard him speak a few months ago during my South Trip with my grade and he, his wife and his daughter remembered me. I invited them all over for a nice, home cooked Jewish meal if they are ever in Los Angeles.