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The Gordon School

Day one of the 2020 Civil Rights Trip

The nineteenth annual trip arrives in Newnan, Georgia, Tuskegee University and Montgomery, Alabama

The first stop of the nineteenth annual Civil Rights Trip was a new one.


Newnan, Georgia, is the site of an installation by Providence photojournalist Mary Beth Meehan.


Meehan's work puts a spotlight on a carefully curated crosssection of Newnan residents: black, white, Hispanic, Asian, old and young, from up and down the socialeconomic scale.


With Ms. Meehan as the guide, Gordon's group got to hear the rationale for many of the installation decisions.


There's a reason Brittany is on the side of the former whites-only hospital.


There's a reason Pastor Jimmy's portrait gazes at the street marking the boundary of the old black business district.


There's a reason Ms. Berry's portrait is across from the Confederate memorial.


The installation looks similar to the one Meehan did in downtown Providence.


But Gordon's motor coach driver, Mr. Brown, a lifetime resident of the South, immediately recognized how radical this work was in the context of a small southern town.


He and Ms. Meehan began a banter that continued throughout the visit.


Then, Ms. Meehan began introducing students to the people in the portraits themselves.


Pastor Jimmy convened the students, and the Newnan residents, in his church's youth center.


Together, they told stories of race, reconciliation, and the impact the installation has had on them and their community.


Some of the stories were dramatic, as with Pastor Jimmy's public apology for his family's history of owning slaves, a speech he made across the street from a recent Nazi rally.


Others were quieter, like Ms. Barry's stories of "working for white people in private homes."


As questions came in, from students and adults, the presentation segued into lunch.


Students talked to local press. 


Photographers talked to photographers.


And the children from the North listened to their elders from the South.


ahead to day two of the 2020 trip

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