D.C. youth activists’ Birmingham journey

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham’s civil rights history is in the spotlight this week as part of a learning experience for a group of youth activists from D.C.

It’s been a journey through history for 24 high school students from our nation’s capital. They are part of a black-Jewish leadership development program called “operation understanding.”

“We really believe that if they can walk the path of history and understand the course of history, they can be the people who shape where it goes next,” Avi Edelman of Operation Understanding said.

The group spent time at the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute over the weekend. Monday morning, they gathered at Temple Emanuel, to hear from former U.S. attorney Doug Jones, who successfully prosecuted civil rights cases in Alabama.

“These are the leaders, the people who are gonna come next, and they gotta understand the mistakes that happened in the past, so we don’t repeat them again,” Jones said.

It’s a message heard loud and clear by the participants, who are wrapping up this three and a half week history tour here in Alabama.

“Traveling throughout New York, and the Deep South, we’ve been able to meet with a lot of very influential speakers, people who were there during the sit-ins, during the freedom rides, and see all the very important sites,” student and program participant Max Finkelpearl said.

For some, it has brought a sense of gratitude.

“How many people had to suffer to get where I am today, how many people lost their life, the hard work and dedication towards my future, and I’m extremely grateful for that,” student Danielle Bedney said.

That gratefulness likely wouldn’t have happened had these students not had this powerful opportunity.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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