2023 Mission Trip » Chavez Schools 2023 Mission Trip

Chavez Schools 2023 Mission Trip

Sunday, November 10, 2023 | Day 6
Written By: Marcus Scott, 11th grade


This is Atlanta
The day started as usual. I woke up, procrastinated, remembered what I’m doing, and then got up out of bed. We went to this high school, The B.E.S.T. Academy, and a presenter talked about flying drones and thought it was pretty cool.  I learned that there’s more to life than what I think. I never knew drones could be used for so much stuff.  We couldn’t fly the drones because of the rain outside but it was cool hearing about an entire new industry.  PicThe entire event was sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. I got to meet some cool folks at B.E.S.T. Academy but I felt there wasn’t a real point to really getting to know them because I won’t see them again, but they were definitely cool folks. They had a really nice school and you could tell they had a nice community.

Since it was our last night in Atlanta, we got to go to the mall and have some free time.  While in Cumberland Mall, the “head of security” of the mall literally followed us around as soon as we walked through the door.  picWhen my friend and I sat on the escalator for a .0005 milliseconds, this “security guard” told us to leave the mall and threatened to call the police if we didn't leave the mall premises.  SO we had to get Big Burton on them.  Ms. Burton handled things as a normal pedestrian would and seeing that was honestly nice.  We left happily, after we finished eating.  OH yeah I got to see Boosie himself.  It was cool seeing a celebrity, but I feel like it happens all the time in cities like Atlanta. Despite the celebrity sighting, I hate that mall.
As I type this and think about the week, this trip had its ups and downs but I got to experience ATL with some cool folks.  I learned a lot about economics, entrepreneurship, college, Black culture, and how to work with people this week.  
Now I can’t wait to go home and sleep in my real bed.
Thursday, November 9, 2023 | Day 5
Written By: Ti'Asia Jonson, 11th grade
I see myself.

When we first arrived to Spelman College the historical appeal of the buildings caught my eye immediately. I just love the architecture of the campus.   I noticed how there is easy access to each class for students which I found to be very beneficial.  Navigating Alabama A&M and Georgia State were not like this at all.  Spelman is really big on sisterhood and the young woman there really take the time to build strong connections with one another. The freshmen dorms may be hot because there’s no AC but atleast us girls won’t be alone because we will all have a fan together.  I’m sure that contributes to the bonding.picAfter our tour was over we started to walk back to the bus. Some of the girls was walking on the green shiny grass, and Ms. Solomon instantly shouted, “Get off my grass, we dont cut corners!”, which I found out to be hilarious, but I couldn’t argue her about that because it is very disrespectful to walk on any college lawns. Our next stop was Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). There were many modernized buildings and I noticed how almost every college student on campus either rode a scooter, bike, skateboard, or the college’s transportation.   They needed it because it was the largest campus we’ve been on.  The campus was opposite of Spelman in size and appearance but had relaxing tone.picThe next stop was the RICE Center where we meet Dr. Alex. He gave us a lecture and his take on many of problems the city of Atlanta, Georgia are facing.  The most important message that I took from our conversation was to identify a problem that my city was facing and come up with plans and solutions to fix the issues.  Public policy in action.  It was a great, informative conversation. Finally dinner time! We ate at Paschal’s. It was very memorable going to this historical African-American restaurant where our ancestors and civil right leaders met, prepared, strategized, and collaborated at. There were pictures of Black Advocates that fought for our rights, such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Rev. Joseph Lowery, to modern leader such a President Obama. The food felt like early Thanksgiving! I had their delicious macaroni & cheese, saucy yams, seasoned greens, and perfectly fried chicken. I rate the food a 9.5/10.picThis day was not only been special to me because of the visit to Spelman (one of my top college choices) but to also learn about the history of Atlanta and some of the social justice and policy issues Atlanta is facing. Learning this helped me feel more connected to the city.  I loved today and enjoyed learning some of history of Atlanta before calling it my home two years from now.
Thursday, November 8, 2023 | Day 5
Written By: Jaden Brown, 12th grade


Another Day In The City

Morehouse Visit
The first stop of the day was to Morehouse College, which wasn’t really on my college list. It was the first school I had toured which specialized in accepting Black men and molding them into more efficient and knowledgeable versions of themselves by the time it’s graduation. Personally, I felt it was the perfect place to immerse yourself in a southern variation of Black culture, since Morehouse is in Atlanta. You get a sense of community and, not to mention the addition of southern hospitality. In terms of campus size, it was moderately sized; although I felt like the tour would never end. While on tour, we learned more about the AUC. It’s an aronym for Atlanta University Center. The AUC serves as a hub for all 3 major HBCUS: Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta (It used to include Morris Brown until 2002 due to accreditation issues.  I wonder if it will rejoin?). Pic The AUC’s main focus is to combine the power and intellect of all three institutions, and utilize it to embark on projects that further boost student involvement and serve as a pull factor for inquiring students. The AUC played a meaningful role during the Atlanta Student Movement which was philosophically committed to the principles of nonviolent disobedience taught by Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students conducted marches, picketing, and sit-ins that resulted in the desegregation of public and private facilities which had denied service or access to people of color. These facilities included restaurants, businesses, schools, housing and hospitals. Thanks to the Atlanta Student Movement, the city began to live up to its slogan, "A city too busy to hate." I love that phrase and further understand the role of the AUC in not only educating, but empowering students of color. 

Georgia Tech 
Moving on from Morehouse, we semi-toured Georgia Tech. Not really much I can say about it, other than the unique architecture which captivated me. It certainly wasn’t a traditional college, hence the name having “tech” in it. It looked almost futuristic, with modern accenting which supported the theme of a high tech campus. PicThere was a bit of diversity here and there, though I'd have to say the majority of the student population appeared to be Asian or white. It had a number of pretty neat common areas for students to chill and connect.  

RICE Center – Atlanta
Visiting the RICE (Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) Center was a great experience, I have to say. It was similar experience to visiting The Gathering Spot the previous day; though it was a different approach taken in terms of the lecture-conversation style.  We met with Dr. Alex who is a public policy analyst with Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.   I learned about the growing wealth gap between the racial communities in the city of Atlanta, resulting in more and more Black residents being pushed out the city. Very alarming I might say since Atlanta is a predominantly Black city.  This is the same thing happening in DC.  Dr. Alex also stated Atlanta was the fifth rated city with the largest Black and White household wealth gap.  Guess what city was ranked number 1?  Washington, DC!   It was fascinating to make that connection with another city, let alone to my hometown. Dr. Alex also presented on policy recommendations to help close the wealth gap.  It was a great conversation and Dr. Alex even asked us what were some of our recommendations we had as teenagers to help close the wealth gap.  I think more financial literacy for teenagers is ultra important and could curb many of the wealth issues in our community.   picFinally, I also learned Atlanta is a very segregated city which I did not expect.  Neighborhood segregation has been a recurring issue this week.  I remember the Mayor of Birmingham mentioning the same issue.  In Atlanta there aren’t as many banks in Blacker neighborhoods, compared to non-white neighborhoods.   According to Dr. Alex, Black Atlantans are more likely to live in banking deserts, which is a term I’ve never heard. The lack of banks in certain neighborhoods contributes to economic inequality that exists. But this gap and the fact that it goes hand-in-hand with gentrification, really gave me food for thought as I am currently writing a paper on redlining in my dual enrollment argumentative writing course. 

Overall, the day was a success. I have nothing negative to say about it and learned a lot about the city of Atlanta, my hometown of Washington, DC, and how policy and infrastructure impact economic inequality and Black wealth. 
Wednesday, November 8, 2023 | Day 4
Written By: Jarez Barron, 12th grade
The most eventful day

We finally get to sleep in a little.  Today we had a late start to the day and didn’t have to leave out until 11 am.  I caught up finishing some school work after eating breakfast. The first thing on our agenda today was visiting Clark Atlanta University for a college tour. When we arrived we met with our four tour guides and began the tour.  Clark is situation in the he first stop on the tour was Atlanta University Center (AUC). pic The AUC is  a group of four higher education institutions in one area. Each college or university has its own librarian to help them figure out what books they need for their major. The next stop on the tour was the freshman quad where the tour guides explained the different types of dorms.  It was so cool to be surrounded by four HBCUs in such a close area.   After we ate, we made our way to Morris Brown College where our tour started off at the multi-purpose complex. The biggest difference between Clark and Morris Brown is the size. Morris Brown is a very small college compared to Clark.  Although it was small, it really felt like a family. 
Our tour guide started by teaching us about the e-sports program they have. This did peak my interests in other majors.  Then we went to a spot called The Gathering Spot which is a co-working spot and exclusive membership club. This building is the real definition of Black Excellence and Black culture.  It was founded and created by two Black men and is always full of other Black creatives, leaders, and entrepreneurs.  It just felt like there is so many different ways to be successful as a Black male in the world.  To hear about the types of people who come to The Gathering Spot really opened my eyes to the access I could have in my future.  At The Gathering Policy we also had an information session about Emerson College, which is located in Boston, MA.  This college seems very open and creative, which I liked a lot!  Emerson has a lot of really creative minors, which appealed to me.  It was good to hear from them.
After everything we went to an event called Hump Day to end the night off with some fun. The event was on Morehouse’s campus. It was like a huge party and social gathering outside for people to socialize, listen to music, and sell/buy items from student vendors. (Black owned businesses). Overall, the whole day was a great experience that I would one day like to have the chance to do again - as a college student.  I really liked all the campuses we went to today and I would consider going to these schools. The only school I maybe would not consider is Morris Brown because they do not have any form of athletics at the school.  We finished the evening at Waffle House like any good college student.pic
Tuesday, November 7, 2023  | Day 3
Written By: Jadon Brown, 12th grade
Rise, shine, be Black excellence

Early AM
We started off the day super early, waking up at 6 am CST to accommodate travel times back to Atlanta.  We loaded up the bus and set out for Atlanta around 7 am CST. It was about a 2 ½ hour drive;  I slept the entire way.  I’m glad I did because today was busy!  While I’ve never been to Atlanta, let alone, Georgia, it was pretty easy to spot some key differences between Atlanta and DC. The city as a whole was a spectacle to look at.  Driving in, “ATL” has a nice skyline.  I took quite a few pictures of the landscape and skyline. The ATL skyline doesn’t have moments like DC.  Our bus driver, Alvin, is a fun guy; although the bus has a little more to be desired.  It’s still comfortable despite the TV volume going out from time-to-time.

Commercial Real Estate Visit
Our first stop of the day was to T. Dallas & Company Commercial Real Estate headquarters in downtown Atlanta. Their office was on the 23rd floor. From there, we met two of the five Black owners of the company, Corey and Cedrick. Being in a room with a lot of powerful Black millionaires really broadens your perspective on how lucrative and benefitting commercial real estate industry could be to a young black person like me.
I could tell that being on this level of black excellence means you attain a certain status that gives everyone around you a sense of professionalism and respect that can’t be built simply with confidence. Cedrick expanded on how we all have a hidden talent, no matter the field. If we channel that inner talent, it will manifest itself in a way that will benefit us greatly in the long run. One of my top interests was to explore what his story was and what inspired him to go into this very specific line of work. He dove into how college was not the plan for him, AT ALL. It was a no brainer for him, seeing as all he wanted to do after graduating high school was to make quick money, get a car, and move out of his parents house (I can attest to all three.) From this visit overall, it opened up my eyes to a whole different world of possibilities, that ’m not bound to just one or a few opportunities for work. If Corey and Cedrick can achieve this level of black excellence, I know I can build my confidence enough to do the exact same thing.

GSU Visit 
After leaving the commercial real estate HQ, we visited Georgia State University to have lunch and a tour. I came to the realization that it was a very open campus, due to the fact that it’s located in downtown Atlanta. The cafeteria was very spacious and full of options suitable for all food groups. The food was a hit! It was great to have something that wasn’t pizza; I did NOT touch the pizza in the cafeteria. Moving on from the five-star food, the campus itself felt like it was spread all over downtown Atlanta.  I would say bring some comfortable shoes when you do decide to take a little stroll. piGSU had a lot of common spaces with lots of big windows to let in natural light, ensuring a calm and safe environment for students who want to socialize and study. We came across the library which had the BIGGEST computer lab I had ever seen, which definitely puts the computer lab in my neighborhood library I work at, to shame. While I won’t sugarcoat it greatly, GSU definitely had its perks which varied greatly from AAMU. First, would be accessibility.  I feel AAMU is lacking quite a bit in this category. While AAMU has a very sizable campus, it isn’t a very walkable one. To be completely honest, attending college in Georgia & Alabama never crossed my mind, it just didn’t seem like it was for me. After seeing both campuses, I definitely have had a change in perspective. 

Civil Rights Museum Visit
The immersive experience at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights was jarring.  You put on a pair of headphones, sit at a counter, and close your eyes.  Suddenly, you hear threats, kicking in your seat, and words of hatred. The was a simulation of what Black people would experience during when participating in a lunch counter sit-in.  It really felt like you were transported back to the 1960s.  

The museum featured a lot of vivid images pertaining to the oppression of colored people, and a multitude of stories from the point of view from Black people during that time.  After meeting with free Black millionaires earlier in the day, visiting the museum and viewing exhibits on hatred and prejudice was really interesting and representative of how far Black people have come.

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Visit
We ended our day at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which was quite unexpected, since I had assumed the museum would be our last stop. Going inside, I was perplexed. It was the largest church I have ever seen. It looked like it could fit a congregation of at least five thousand. We took a tour of the church and learned its role in providing for the community.  The church gives away food, helps people register to vote, is a voting site, offers tutoring, and truly acts as resource.  New Birth is heavily involved in the community and that was unexpected for me.  Towards the end of the visit, we met Pastor Bryant where he explained the history of the church gave me the feeling that there was a force above us that protects us.   He spoke so encouraging and inspiring; I felt blessed to have spoken with him. pic

The day overall was great. I felt fulfilled by all the lessons and values I’ve learned today. I learned that there is power in my skin color. I should not limit myself to a type of job or career field just because it’s dominated by white people or the majority.  I should strive to be strictly in my lane of choice; and be my best self.  This trip overall will have a lasting impact on my life; not only because I got to travel but also because of the opportunity to be exposed to this type of Black excellence.
 Signing off, until next time!—J.B.
Monday, November 6, 2023  | Day 2
Written By: Nevaeh Quarles, 11th grade


Interesting Day


I woke up this morning after a good night's sleep. I got myself together and went to breakfast where I greeted everyone and picked my own breakfast which was pretty good. After eating breakfast I headed to the gym which was on the same floor as the breakfast room and decided to do an hour on cardio exercises. After the slight workout, I headed back to my room and took a shower before meeting with the mayor of Birmingham.

picThe mayor was a pretty calm person to talk with. He was very relaxed and approachable, and not what I thought a mayor would be like.  When speaking to him we learned that he has been mayor for the past six years. Me and the other students asked him questions relating to politics and life as a political leader. I learned more and more about Birmingham talking with him. Mayor Woodfin grew up in Birmingham and ever since he was a kid he has wanted to make changes in his community. After we finished meeting with the mayor, his Social Justice and Racial Equity team stayed behind.  They discussed their roles and the challenges of advocating for policy changes in the state of Alabama.  

The next thing that we did was travel to Alabama A&M University where we met Chavez alumni, ate lunch, and took a campus tour.  AAMU is about 90 minutes north of Birmingham.  The campus was quite large but inviting.  The tour guide showed us the campus and explained the benefits of going to A&M.  The school has a lot of student jobs and plenty of activities, including intramural sports, and clubs.
While exploring more around the campus, he showed us the names of people who were alumni and people who donated to the college.  Our guide even showed us a massive Christmas tree which they said that they’re gonna decorate soon.
This whole experience showed me a whole bunch of reasons to go to college and showed me a lot of opportunities/benefits of going to a college in general.  I’ve met a lot of great people today and feel I have a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in college. I would definitely want to maybe visit or talk to them again.
Monday, November 6, 2023 | Day 2
Written By: Tayshawn Green, 12th grade


I still don’t know

Some of my most important questions were answered today.

In the morning we met with the mayor of Birmingham and in the afternoon we visited Alabama A&M University.  Before coming on this trip, I was curious about Birmingham, Alabama. I pichave heard about the city throughout my life but wanted to know the similarities with Birmingham and DC. DC and Birmingham have a lot of things in common, two things we have in common that stood to me is gun violence and being capitals.  The mayor has created programs to support offenders and support youth employment, with the hopes of violence lowering.  Another thing the mayor is working towards is making the school system more diverse.  Throughout the years, a lot of white people have left the city of Birmingham for the suburbs which has led to a segregated area.   Originally, before meeting the mayor of Birmingham I felt that Birmingham was a predominantly white place, but after meeting the mayor my perspective on Birmingham changed completely.  I learned Birmingham is 99% Black.  I didn’t expect that.  I feel the mayor was very relatable to me and my peers because of his ability to break the tension as well as his overall swag and how he carries himself. 

To build upon this great experience, we drove to visit Alabama A&M University.  This visit was important because we were going to meet three alumni from Chavez who attend AAMU. I picfeel it was important to talk to the alumni because they know where we come from and the things we are most interested in. I have visited several college campuses with high expectations that are usually not met.  Would Alabama A&M University meet them I wondered?  The AAMU campus was very big with a lot of walking and several hills. It is not a concern for me, however, as the school provides shuttle buses for students.  After visiting AAMU, I feel Alabama A&M isn’t a good fit for me. I think if I were to attend it would be because of the alumni there but the location of the school makes me second guess attending. I don't like the location because I am led to believe there's a lot of discrimination and racism in this area of Alabama. Despite this, the campus seems safe.  Also, the campus seemed a little bland but I also know we were there during the middle of the day.  I am looking forward to visiting more colleges and expanding my college options. 
Sunday, November 5, 2023 | Day 1
Written By: Ti'Asia Jonson, 11th grade
First Day Awakening
On Sunday, around 5 a.m., I arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. When I came, most of my peers were already there. As everyone was arriving, Ms.Hurly began to give everyone their boarding passes. This would be only my second time getting on a plane, so I was happy to have the opportunity to fly again. After receiving my boarding passes, I went to where I checked in the bag that goes under the plane. Traveling for the first time in a long time felt very time-consuming since our group was so large, especially when we had to make sure that everyone in our group got their bags checked and were ready to go to the boarding gate.
We landed at the Atlanta International Airport, which felt like a mall with great food options. I was surprised by the difference in accent that ATL people have from DC people. I asked one of my peers, Jaden Brown, how he felt so far coming into the beginning of the trip, and he said, "I feel drained, and I'm ready to go to the hotel." He took the words out of my mouth. Other than that, it feels so peaceful being far away from home because I love being independent. On the bus ride to Birmingham, Mr. Cross puts the film Selma on. This movie really caught my attention because even though people in the South were desegregated, discrimination was still happening in other parts of Alabama.
16th  street
When we visited Kelly Ingram Park, it was very quiet and memorable. We all took a moment of silence to pay homage to the four girls who died as a result of the 16th Street bombing. It felt very humbling to walk in history because kids around my age went through horrifying cruelty. I actually felt educated because, in my history classes, they never talked about the four girls dying at the 16th Street Baptist Church. 
When we returned to the hotel, I went to my room to enjoy time with friends and then got in the shower to freshen up. For me, it was normal to share rooms because my friend Nyla and I always share rooms when traveling. I anticipated having to wait my turn to use the bathroom while sharing a room.
Overall, so far, this has been a learning experience, and I can't wait for the next couple of days to explore more.
November 1, 2023
Exploring Civil Rights and Economic Inequality: A Journey with Juniors and Seniors
logoIn our upcoming educational journey, our juniors and seniors will embark on a unique exploration of the impact of the civil rights movements on public policy. This experience will not only provide them with valuable insights into the historical struggles and achievements of these movements but also empower them to analyze the contemporary implications.
Understanding the Role of Civil Rights Movements
Our students will delve into the rich history of the civil rights movements that have shaped our nation. From the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s to more recent movements, they will learn about the leaders, protests, and pivotal moments that brought about significant change. By understanding the sacrifices and determination of those who fought for justice and equality, our students will appreciate the profound impact of these movements on our society and policies today.
Analyzing Economic Inequality
Economic inequality is a pressing issue in our country, and it varies from place to place. Our juniors and seniors will conduct a comparative analysis of economic disparities in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Birmingham. They will examine various factors contributing to economic inequality, including income disparities, access to education, employment opportunities, and housing conditions.
This analysis will provide our students with a holistic understanding of the challenges faced by different communities and the systemic factors at play. By comparing these three cities, they will gain valuable insights into the regional variations in economic inequality and the policies that impact it.
Through this journey, our students will not only gain a deeper appreciation for the significance of civil rights movements in shaping public policy but also develop a greater understanding of the ongoing struggle to address economic disparities. They will return with valuable knowledge and perspectives that can inspire positive change in our community and beyond. Stay tuned for updates as they embark on this enlightening adventure!