Some out-of-state students are learning about Mississippi's civil rights history as part of an effort to eradicate racism in their own communities.
24 students from the Washington D.C. area gathered in the living room of the Medgar Evers Home Museum in Jackson. The group of Jewish and African-American teens is learning about the life of the civil rights icon as part of a three-week journey that loosely follows the path of the 1961 Freedom Riders. It's part of a year-long program known as Operation Understanding, an organization dedicated to building a generation of leaders working to eradicate racism around the nation.
Students have been meeting with civil rights activists and hearing their stories.
"Our students have been meeting with some of those people along our route," says Avi Edelman, the program's director. "They've been meeting with people leading social justice efforts today. Our belief is really that if they're able to walk the history and touch the face of history, then they can acquire the tools to shape where that history goes next."
And while the students concentrate on the significance of Mississippi's civil rights history, some say they can't help but see similar events happening today.
"We keep hearing that in order to solve today's problems, we need to look back in history and learn from the past," says 17-year-old Lila Michaels. "So we're kind of retracing our steps, trying to figure out what we can do to make the world a better place."
"We take from this and we teach those and educate those to help them better understand what happened," says Donnell Laster, also 17.
The students will now head back to nation's capital to discuss the things they learned during their trip to promote racial understanding in their own communities.