What is past is prologue: Rogers High students seek funds for Freedom Fighters educational trip

This maps shows the routes of Freedom Rides that took place throughout the South from April through December 1961. Rogers High School students are raising funds to attend a Civil Rights learning tour that will show them some of the journey taken by the Freedom Fighters.  (Lindsey Treffry / The Spokesman-Review)

A Civil Rights learning tour is in the works for Rogers High School students in June 2025. This will give BIPOC students the opportunity to absorb the journey taken by the Freedom Fighters during the 1960s.

Currently, African American literature is offered in Spokane public high schools as an English college credit through Eastern Washington University.

This tour will provide a field experience that immerses students into the history of what they will learn in the course. An opportunity like this provides real world relevance and connection to vital aspects of the Black American experience, bridging the past to the present.

Students will have a chance to visit various Martin Luther King Jr. historical sites in Atlanta and Alabama and sites associated with the bus boycott, Freedom Riders and children’s marches in Birmingham. Kendra Egly, who teaches African American literature at Rogers High School, had the opportunity to do this tour as an educator.

“While I was there, I met teachers from across the country and heard stories of teachers bringing student groups on trips like this, and my reaction was that Rogers students need these experiences too,” Egly said. “As soon as I got home, I started looking into options. It was hands-down the best learning experience of my life.”

Egly plans to take a trip for current ninth- and 10th-graders who will take African American Lit/AP African American Studies as juniors or seniors. This trip is an outside of school opportunity, which means that it must be independently funded.

Community support will open the door to an enhanced learning experience that can foster positive identity development and awareness of the foundations of American social justice. Exposure is paramount in raising the consciousness of our BIPOC youth as they move forward into the future.

Many students are interested in attending, Egly said, but cost can be a huge barrier. Through Hilyard Built, a local nonprofit, there is an avenue to support student participation in this special experience. Support for this event is an investment into the future of our students who are here because of the path that was laid for them by those who came before. This opportunity can help that realization become manifest.

Please visit the following websites to support: hillyardbuilt.com/requests and www.hillyardbuilt.com. Additionally, to learn more, contact Kendra Egly at kendraegly@gmail.com.