Tiyul 2021: Day 5 | Ramah Darom
Class of 2021
On day five of Tiyul, students met with incredible figures of the Civil Rights movement and heard their stories firsthand. Facilitated by Billy Planer of Etgar 36, he set the stage and provided thoughtful context so students could understand the magnitude of these individuals’ contributions to history. Students were enraptured and respectful, and when the time was right, asked questions that demonstrated their genuine curiosity and hunger to learn. Through both Selma and Birmingham the eighth grade class saw history lifted off the page. Here’s how a few students described it.
Rachel L.
After sleeping our first and last night in Alabama, we met with Bishop Woods. Bishop Woods talked to us about his experience during the Civil Rights Movement. We learned songs that Bishop Woods had sung himself during the marches. The eighth grade class got the opportunity to sing with him. During the songs, the Bishop felt a strong spirit with God and us. This experience was meaningful because we got to help Bishop Woods connect with us in a way we had never connected as a Jewish community. 
Nate D.
Yesterday, we started off our day visiting Selma, Alabama. We talked with Joanne Bland who marched from Selma to Montgomery with John Lewis. She led us to where they began their walk 56 years ago. We stood on the same ground that John Lewis stood on. We became a witness and we will now be able to share her story. Later in the day, we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. As I walked across the bridge, I felt that I wanted to make change in the world. I learned that I need to take action and make a difference. Edmund Pettus was a KKK member and they named the bridge after him because he was a powerful person in the community. Despite this, the people of Selma want to keep the name of the bridge so others don’t forget history. I had a great time visiting Selma, and I am super excited to go back and discover more about this historic town.
Myles A.
Yesterday we had the chance to visit the town of Selma, Alabama, and meet Johanna Bland. She was an 11 year old girl during the Civil Rights marches on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We walked and sat in her footsteps along with many other Civil Rights heroes from Selma. She talked to us about her experiences and how her experiences have affected her later in life. We walked to a section of Selma where stands the last concrete slab where Civil Rights marchers stood before walking on the bridge between Selma and Montgomery. Bland had us pick up rocks of the slab and told us they were history. We took the rocks and she explained to us about the people who marched and the impact they made on the world. Overall, everyone had a great time speaking to her and listening to her jokes and good spirit.
Cole S.
Yesterday, in Birmingham, Alabama, we spoke with Bishop Woods. Bishop Woods lived through the Civil Rights Movement as an African American man. He spent time with us talking about his experiences with challenges in the mid-60’s with police and white supremacists. Although Bishop Woods is in his 80’s, he was super energetic and spiritually connected. I enjoyed hearing Bishop Woods speak about his experience and hearing his songs. 
Jacob G.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” As I stood there, watching Bishop Woods pour his heart and soul into every word he sung, a feeling of warmth surrounded me. We all joined in and the song lifted our spirits higher, “let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” Our song was so powerful, people around us, strangers, stood still, watching us sing. I remember when we finished the song, the whole park was silent. For a good period of time, we all stood there, soaking up the silence. Bishop Woods said his closing words and we all left. Even though he is still in Birmingham, I think everyone one of us carries a piece of his song with us, and will forever.
Myles L.
Yesterday, in Selma and Birmingham, Alabama, my classmates and I met with two historical gems, Johanne Bland and Bishop Woods. Joanne talked with us about her childhood and her experiences throughout the evolution of Civil Rights in Alabama. We viewed multiple different monuments, each one had a list of names, and Johanne told their stories like they were a part of her family. After walking across the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, we traveled to Birmingham and talked with Bishop Woods. He was a very spiritual person, and I’ve never met anyone quite like him. The Bishop spoke with us about faith and spirit and how it gave them the motivation to have non-violent protests. He also taught us a few songs they would sing during their protests. Bishop Woods is 87 years old, and I wish I had the energy he carries. 
Kaylee K.
Over the past two days, we had such an incredible experience. First of all, I had never been to Alabama, so that was an experience of its own. Our short trip to Alabama turned out to be way better than I could have expected. Yesterday, listening to Johanne Bland and Bishop Woods speak about their experience during the Civil Rights movement was very inspirational. They both taught us songs and chants that motivated them during the marches. The tours we went on were very exciting and, as a bonus, I got a lot of exercise with all the walking we did. :) My main takeaway is that there is always hope, even in the most hopeless situations.