On Feb. 15, about 50 teens will stand in the pulpit where civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his final speech, visit the site where he was assassinated and help out homeless teenagers, as a part of Greater Piney Grove Baptist’s Fourth Annual Black History Trip for youths.
“This year, we will visit Memphis, Tennessee. We will see the Lorraine Hotel, the Mason Temple and we will help out at the Vance Community Center,” said A.L. Hollie, who serves as the church’s youth pastor. “We want the kids to see these sites up close and personal, not just in a book as a part of a quick lesson plan. We don’t want the kids to just read about the struggle, but to experience the sites where their ancestors shed blood and tears for them to do what they do today.”
During the bus trip, the youths will watch movies such as “Akeelah and the Bee,” “The Great Debaters,” and other films featuring African Americans in positive roles.
Hollie has been the head of the Mature Adolescents Representing the Kingdom Everyday or M.A.R.K.E. ministry for four years. In his position, he has led church excursions to other historical sites including the King Memorial in Washington, D.C.; the civil rights museum in Birmingham, Alabama; and the Rosa Parks museum in Montgomery, Alabama. The Montgomery trip included a college tour of Alabama State University.
Last year, Claudette Collins sent her three children on the church’s third annual trip, to Montgomery. Collins has sent one or all of her children on all of Pastor Hollie’s trips and says they are a great idea for today’s young minds.
“Today’s youth just don’t get the importance of the struggle. Parents may not have the time to teach them and teachers may not have the time to elaborate. That’s where these trips fill a void,” said Cullins, who lives in Decatur. “With all the kids being stuck inside playing video games, I also appreciate the fact that the trip gets the kids outside for community service to serve God and his people.”
Her daughter, Taquela Cullins, 15, says she returned from last year’s trip with a new sense of history.
“It wasn’t really much they told me that I didn’t already know, but to actually see the places up close that you read about: It really opened me up and gave me a new appreciation for what people went through,” said Taquela, a sophomore at Columbia High School. The same group of people never go, so you always get to meet new people.”
Children ages 12 – 18 are invited to join the youth ministry on the turn-around trip. The $50 fee includes a sack lunch. Children must bring spending money for dinner, which will be at a buffet-style restaurant.
The charter bus will leave for Atlanta at 4 a.m. and will return at 11:30 p.m. For more information or to sign up to see Memphis with the Greater Piney Grove Youth Ministry, call 404-377-0561.