7 local students among 135 taking Sojourn through U.S. civil rights movement


Vyrdasia Ball feels a pinch of sadness when she thinks of a tragedy that occurred nearly 50 years ago at a famous Southern church.

“The story of the four girls in Birmingham [Ala.] touched me a lot because I have sisters around that age,” the 16-year-old Youngstown Early College sophomore said.

She was referring to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, who were killed in the Sept. 15, 1963, bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, which also was a pivotal location for civil-rights leaders’

activities, mass meetings and plans. The girls were between 11 and 14.

Vyrdasia, who has four sisters age 8 to 12, has a deeper knowledge of and appreciation for those who made countless sacrifices during the modern civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, thanks to her participation in a recent Sojourn to the Past experience.

More than 7,000 high-school students nationwide have taken part in Sojourn to the Past, a 10-day, five-state bus trip and traveling history course through the Deep South that allows participants to retrace the paths of the movement and gain greater insight regarding that portion of American history. The program was founded in 1999.

Vyrdasia was one of seven local students who joined about 135 fellow students, educators and parents, most from California and New York, on the trip, which took place from March 28 to April 6. The other six were Jazzlynn Watkins of Chaney High School; Micah Smith, Seannille McRay and Shawanda Jones, all of YEC; and JaBraya Moore and Dyshia Stone, both of East High School. All are sophomores.

Read more about their experience in Sunday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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