Who says we're too old for field trips?

February 24, 2015
Tyler J. Langhorn '18

During Black History Month, Hampden-Sydney College's Office of Inclusion partnered up with Longwood University's Office of Social Justice for our first joint day trip to Washington D.C. to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Anacostia Community Museum.

Group at MLK MemorialThough the bus was small, the educational experience was quite large. Our 20-person student group began the day visiting the National Mall to see the monuments and memorials.  Our first stop at the Mall was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, where we learned about his legacy and debated among ourselves the pros and cons of Roosevelt's policies and pondered his most famous quotations.  In the cold wind and sporadic flurries, the group made the full lap around the Mall ending the morning portion of our trip in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. At the memorial, we read Dr. King's most inspiring quotes and observed the large number of people of different races that the monument attracted.

From the National Mall, our group enjoyed lunch at Station 4, taking note of the racial and cultural diversity in the establishment.  We sat at two tables and engaged in discussions about Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of America, reflecting on the fact that Martin Luther King's dream, in no small way, had been accomplished by our being able to share a meal and fellowship with people of all races and ethnicities. We discussed how sometimes we take small things such as eating together for granted, but accomplishing these "small things" was part of what Dr. King and others like him lived and died for.

Our last and final stop was the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast D.C. In route to the museum, Dean Hakeem Croom '10 decided to spice things up by giving us a pop quiz on black history. He asked a series of questions on African-American figures and statistics and whoever answered his questions correctly received a gift card; I was one of those lucky recipients. Dean Croom also led a discussion on gentrification and its impact on communities in urban areas.

The Anacostia Museum is a part of the Smithsonian, and focuses on capturing and presenting the African-American history of Washington D.C. Our group toured the museum, saw all of the exhibits, and watched a documentary on the controversial Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case. The documentary highlighted the historical struggle on interracial marriage in Virginia and across the nation. The documentary was very insightful and once again reminded us of how far we've come as a nation. 

After a long day of learning and sightseeing, we made our way back to Farmville just in time for our annual Winter Ball and some unexpected snowfall.   I know I'm speaking for all of the students who were lucky enough to go on the trip, when I say that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Just having the opportunity to learn more about our history, to travel to Washington D.C. and to team up with Longwood students was incredible.  I will be forever thankful for the experience, and I am looking forward to the next trip!

Group in front of Washington Monument