The Teen Appeal

Giving truth to Memphis youth

A guided tour of some HBCUs

By Jasmine Williamson (Douglass High School)

It’s that time of the year again when seniors are having to make important college decisions. Juniors are taking the ACT and sophomores…Well they’re just being sophomores. This year things were different for students of Frederick Douglass High School as 42 juniors got to experience a college tour like never before.

The historically black college and university tour trip lasted five days in late March.

The journey started bright and early at 4 a.m. The first stop would be Tallahassee, Florida. The drive was a straight 10 hours with a little traffic along the way.

After stuffing our faces for hours at various fast food places, we finally arrived at Florida State University. FSU was the only stop on our tour that was not an HBCU. The population at FSU is far from small, with 40,000 students. The college ranks high as one of the best to attend in the U.S.

On the HBCU tour, students got a chance to visit Fisk University. Photo by Jasmine Williamson.

On the HBCU tour, students got a chance to visit Fisk University. Photo by Jasmine Williamson.

After visiting FSU, we rode down to Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. FAMU is the third largest HBCU in the United States.

After touring these schools it was time to eat a real dinner. We ate at Golden Corral buffet featuring numerous choices from grilled chicken to cold ice cream and cotton candy. We all know what everyone does when they are stuffed: They sleep. But we arrived at the hotel and no one was tired. Why sleep when we had a four hour trip to Atlanta?

Yes, you guessed it: The next stop was Atlanta, Georgia. Who doesn’t love Atlanta? There are so many beautiful attractions that we visited. But first, we had to get down to business and complete the college tours with the first stop being Clark Atlanta University.

On to the next college. The boys went to Morehouse which is an all-male school, while the girls went to Spelman, an all-female institution. If you prefer the idea of a small college environment and small class sizes, then Spelman is the place for you. The good thing about attending one of these colleges is that they are all within walking distance of each other. So just because you go to an all girl college doesn’t mean you won’t get to interact with the guys at Morehouse or Clark Atlanta. It’s like a HBCU college town.

All of these schools also promote black businesses. They have days where businesses can come out and sell their attire.

On the HBCU tour students also got the chance to visit Spelman College. Photo by Jasmine Williamson.

On the HBCU tour students also got the chance to visit Spelman College. Photo by Jasmine Williamson.

After visiting two great HBCUs it was time to go have a little fun at the Coca-Cola factory. The Coca-Cola factory is one of the main attractions in Atlanta. It features many cool things, such as a 4-D short film. Of course everyone loves the tasting room with over 100 different sodas to try. Then, there is a place to take photos with the famous Polar Bear from Coca-Cola. After all that tasting, you receive a complimentary bottle of Coca Cola on your way out of the gift shop.

The day wasn’t over just yet: The next stop was The Lenox, one of the biggest malls in Atlanta. Going shopping in Atlanta is a must. There are so many outlets that we rarely get to see in Memphis. The mall has four floors with all the stores that teens love such as Rue 21, Hollister and a Charlotte Russe. There are also many food places to try out in this mall. Although there wasn’t enough time to explore every floor of the mall, it was definitely enough time to go broke within an hour of being there.

The next day consisted of the CNN Center, Six Flags, and the Martin Luther King Memorial. CNN has a huge eating arena featuring over 20 different places to stuff your face. They also offer tours of the two-story building. You can’t go into where they film, but you can see where they film actual live shows from the CNN building. After staying there for an hour it was time to learn a little about history.

The Martin Luther King Memorial was very touching. There are four main parts to visit when doing the self-guided tour. There is the gift shop, the church where Martin preached, Coretta and Martin’s memorial and lastly an interactive museum. The museum had numerous photos of MLK in action preaching. There were many pictures, words, videos and visuals to make attendees feel what the people living in the moment were feeling.  Going into the church where King preached really set the tone. It made me visualize the real thing because there was background music of Martin talking/preaching.  The whole neighborhood is filled with King and his wife and what they’ve accomplished through out life. Now that we’d walked a couple of miles it was time to walk a lot more.

Six Flags was the next stop. We stayed there for nearly six hours straight, riding some of the biggest roller-coasters ever. Things like The Goliath (which was the best ride), The Batman, and the Georgia Cyclone were the main attractions of the park. Time flew by and all the fun was coming to an end. It was time to head back on the road the next morning to Nashville, Tennessee. The birthplace of country music.

Students were also able to have some downtime and enjoy rollercoasters. Photo by Jasmine Williamson.

Students were also able to have some downtime and enjoy rollercoasters. Photo by Jasmine Williamson.

On our visit to Nashville we visited Fisk University and Tennessee State University. Like Spelman, Fisk has a small setting with only 40 acres of land. They only have about 1,000 students. Following Fisk was a visit to TSU, which is right down the street.

“Now that I’ve seen the campus I would definitely consider coming here,” Denise Greer, a student on the trip said.

After covering more than 1,000 miles in the South it was time to head back home to our parents. Overall, it was a great learning experience filled with joy, fun, laughter and most importantly, new bonds.


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