Teenagers Try To Understand Troubling Time In Nation's History - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/06/04

Teenagers Try To Understand Troubling Time In Nation's History

While building a needy family a better future, a group of teen-aged volunteers are also building a better understanding of the past.

Every other year the Circular Congregation Church in Charleston South Carolina takes its confirmation class on a mission trip. They normally fix up a house, but this year the group is combining that mission with a civil rights tour through Mississippi and Alabama.

Houses are built with hammers and nails, but it took the sacrifices and struggles of past generations to build the kind of America these teenagers know today.

Jennifer Wicker is the group chaperone.

"We just need to all learn to work together and to love each other regardless of our backgrounds and regardless of our race, or skin color or orientations."

The South Carolina mission group is on a Civil Rights tour. Besides Biloxi, the teens have been to the Martin Luther King Memorial in Atlanta and the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham .

"It's more realistic when you visit them because you're actually there where it happened versus reading about them," said 15-year old Peter Rupp.

The teenagers say relating to a time before they were born is difficult for their generation, but once they get an understanding, it becomes part of who they are.

"Just so that they know about what happened in the past and how it used to be and how much better they have it today," said Rupp.

Luis Marcell says he has learned a lot along this journey.

"It's taught me a lot, to appreciate what you have because you know not everyone has what you've got and if they don't, you help them out."

After they leave Biloxi, the church group will drive from Selma to Montgomery . They want to follow the same route Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporters walked back in 1965 in a march for equal voting rights.

by Danielle Thomas

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