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Spirit of St. Louis – Civil Rights history lesson from kids at Marian Middle School

ST. LOUIS - You have just a few more weeks to see an acclaimed exhibit at the Missouri History Museum. It's a page from our local African-American history that is sometimes forgotten.

Girls in fifth through eighth grades at Marian Middle School, a Catholic girls school, visit the exhibit "#1 in Civil Rights, The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis.”

It impacted Paulette, a seventh-grader.

“I thought it was very empowering to see what our past ancestors have done for us,” Paulette said.

Field trips can support academic and personal growth according to a school administrator.

“Every child should have some sense of where they come from in order to understand who they are. That’s why this project helps our students,” said Mary Elizabeth Grimes, Marian Middle School President.

The trip was sponsored by the Archway (MO) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, an international African American women's service organization. Lauren Nash Ming helped coordinate the activity.

“The girls learned a lot about some of the constraints we had to face as African Americans. They were able to learn about different aspects of civil rights over the course of several hundred years,” Nash Ming said.

Some students were surprised to learn how intense the activists were. One girl remembers the impact of learning how activist Percy Green drew attention to the absence of black workers hired for construction of the Gateway Arch.

“Because not everybody is just going to climb an arch. I feel as though he must have had his mind set on his goal,” said seventh-grader Paulette.

Some students were familiar with the history museum and what it has to offer.

“It is a very powerful museum and I like that museum because I like to see the history of African-Americans,” said Dyawna, seventh-grader.

One student even worries that people don’t appreciate the sacrifices made by others.

“Back then people they did so much to try to make a path for us now and we’re not following that. In our community, there’s too many things happening,” said eighth-grader Jalila.

The experience included an opportunity for reflection through artistic expression. Students created small art panels which illustrate what moved them after viewing the exhibit. Members of the Links, Incorporated mounted the collection and presented it to the school for display.

In a few short weeks, the exhibit closes. You don't want to miss #1 in Civil Rights, The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis.

It runs through April 15, 2018.