Recent Programs: 2015 Encampment
The 2015 Encampment was a powerful experience where Encampers explored the roots of the civil rights movement while housed at one of its historic sites, Tougaloo College in Jackson MS. In addition, they collaborated with non-profit organizations that are currently organizing in Mississippi and Alabama, notably Southern Echo, Action Communication and Education Reform, Inc. (ACER), and 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement.
They visited Selma, AL, and met with representatives of Black Lives Matter. They were inspired by veteran leaders of the civil rights movement Hollis Watkins, Rose Sanders and John Zippert, among others, who are still active today in fighting for social justice. They also spent time with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and the communities of Duck Hill and Glendora, MS.
All field trips and activities during an Encampment (and year-round follow-up) support the development of individual and collective voice; community building; making connections between historical actions, their own communities and current organizing; and thinking critically about social justice issues and the interconnectivity of issues. The arts are also an integral part of the programming. In 2015, arts included theater, music, writing and dance.
Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial
Mayor Johnny B. Thomas, civil rights activist, led Encampers on a tour of Glendora, MS. Encampers visited the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial and Emmett Till Museum. They also went to the B.B King Museum. This field trip was profoundly moving for the youth as they made connections between painful, as well as inspiring, history and current events.
I really liked going to Glendora, MS. The mayor gave us a tour through the town and we went to the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial and the BB King Museum. I hadn’t realized how the blues had a real effect on the civil rights movement. And when the mayor walked us through the Emmett Till Museum, it was new to me. I wasn’t aware of what happened with Emmett Till, and to see how he was treated really affected me. – Deanna, South Dakota
Visiting the B.B. King Museum
At the Emmett Till Museum
Choctaw Indian Fair
The 66th Annual Choctaw Indian Fair was an exciting cultural opportunity where Encampers were welcomed into the thriving and prosperous community of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The young people enjoyed learning about this culture, meeting other young people from the reservation, and participating in the fun and games.
I enjoyed the Choctaw Indian Fair. I was learning about Native American culture from Dylan, Caden and Deanna. I realized that I had a newfound interest in Native American culture. When we went to the fair, I saw that their main goal is unity. – Anahika, Newark NJ
I loved the Choctaw reservation. It was interesting to me as an aspiring sociologist to research and analyze similarities between reservation and non-reservation communities, including class and skin tone differences. It’s a beautiful culture, very accepting of women in leadership roles. They have a woman chief and a history of women leaders. – Sejeia, Houston, Texas
I liked the Choctaw festival. I’d never been on a reservation. I hadn’t seen a lot of Native Americans. The majority don’t live around where I live. It was a nice experience to see how they came together, seeing their dances, seeing the kind of culture they have. – Ezequiel, Manhattan, NY
EFC staff and Encampers join in singing at interactive play
From the moment the bus crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Encampers were swept into a different world. This field trip to Selma, AL, started with a re-enactment of the Middle Passage through the Slavery Museum. The Encampers went on to meet Rose Sanders, a 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement founder, and participated in an interactive play about community organizing. They also met representatives from Black Lives Matter and visited the Voting Rights Museum.
The trip to Selma was great. We went to the Slavery Museum and went to a dark place of the past where there was that deep feeling of slavery, and lynching, before the civil rights movement. They took us back to when Africans were forced to America. We were treated like slaves. It felt like stepping on sorrow, the struggles of our ancestors. It was very emotional to think and talk about it. 21st Century was amazing, like being in church, singing gospel songs, preaching, dancing (as part of an interactive play). The Voting Rights Museum was great. We learned about the Jimmie Lee Jackson story and Bloody Sunday. Selma was a journey to the past, present and future. – Lauren, Eutaw, AL
Edmond Pettus Bridge Crossing Jubilee poster
National Voting Rights Museum
PBS Station, Jackson
Encampers were invited to experience a local PBS Station in Jackson, Mississippi. The tour provided a look into the inner workings of the station and how young people can have influence on the media. A highlight was a dialog with local youth where Encampers got to find their voice about a highly-charged topic: immigration.
The PBS station was an innovative way to call attention to issues that matter. It was amazing – they have a program to get young people to be involved with the news. The stuff we usually see on the news isn’t real. We need to get involved and show what we want, feminist issues and more issues that are progressive. – Sejeia, TX
It was great. We got to meet local kids to talk about issues. There was one kid I disagreed with, and without EFC, I would have just stood there. I was courageous enough to talk and found out that people agreed with me. That helped me see I need to be more outspoken. – Angel, FL
Angel trying out recording equipment.
In the station
Southern Echo Workshops
Southern Echo workshops, held weekly, were a crucial piece of the critical thinking and community organizing programming in 2015. Southern Echo is a leadership education, training and development organization based in Jackson, MS.
Southern Echo was helpful in so many ways, especially going into depth about the civil rights movement. They gave us scenarios and ideas about how we can organize to help our communities. We had to work on these scenarios to put together an organization and work with possible obstacles. – Lauren, Eutaw, AL
They said to the Encampers,“‘Imagine that you are in your local community, and you are the ones that are making decisions.” They gave them a budget and asked them to consider how would you divide it up between education, health care, child care, etc. They pointed out that policy and budget says what you value. And you did see what they value: Education is important, transportation is important (whether rural or urban areas). They were encouraged to think about issues in their home communities and their ability to make change. – Jane Sapp, Program Director
July 4th in Duck Hill
Yehudit enjoying July 4th celebration
The community of Duck Hill, MS, invited the Encampment to participate in their July 4th celebration. This provided a close-up view of a rural Southern town, an opportunity for learning about its history and current issues – and it was a lot of fun!
My favorite field trip was to Duck Hill. We got a look into a modern-day community in Mississippi. The whole town welcomed us, offered us plates of food. They were friendly, waving and smiling and including us. – Sejeia, TX
At Duck Hill’s 4th of July celebration, the Encampers got to experience a community coming together in care, respect, support, along with fun and joy! There was Delta food, games, dancing and singing. People welcomed us with open arms and folded us in. There was a wealth of spirit. People were proud to show their community and share their accomplishments and struggle. We met the mayor and got a tour from Al White, ED of ACER. People told us about when they had their own Black school and when it was closed and how the young people have to travel to go to school. We got to see the inside of a place where people are living and crafting a life together. No matter where that is, it is special and powerful and it was an “Aha” for the Encampers” – Jane Sapp, Program Director
Jane Sapp and Lauren
Encampers with local youth
Duck Hill community member welcomes Encampers
Hollis Watkins speaking on Saturday's panel
The third Annual Intergenerational Weekend featured alums from all generations joining local community leaders and activists for an exciting program, including youth-led workshops and community building.
It is good networking. I got to know an alum from my area. The older people want to help even though they aren’t going to be affected as much as we are – it’s heartwarming that they want us to succeed. They truly believe in what we can bring to the table and that we have power. Going into the performance was really nice. I read my poetry and sang along with music. It was heartfelt. We were truly connected. I’ve never felt that with any other group. –Litzy, CA
The Intergenerational Weekend creates a community where EFC alums, local community leaders, activists and young people engage in dialog together. It opens the Encampers’ eyes to what the Encampment really is – they feel a part of the larger EFC community (thousands of people who have gone through a similar experience). Hollis Watkins spoke on the panel. He is a veteran civil rights activist. He was a lead SNCC organizer in MS and worked on Freedom Summer. He has such a wonderful spirit. He has energy and is ready to engage. Hollis exemplifies what the Encampment is teaching: to look forward by looking back. Encampers can see a similar spirit in the alums who participated in the Encampment many years ago and for whom it is still resonating in their lives. It’s affirming for them and helps them understand there is a range of resources available through the EFC network. Ultimately, a community means that we are not alone. We work together and share with other people; we find meaning and joy through the struggles. – Jane Sapp, Program Director
Gathering at the Intergenerational Weekend
Use of Arts
Arts become a way to give voice to what’s going on inside. They are also a way to help them find their analytical voice – a large part of art-making is interpreting – making meaning of world around you. As the Encampers interpret the world around them, they begin to ask questions, articulate their experiences and make connections to social justice issues. They begin to have creative agency with media. – Jane Sapp, Program Director
Encampers participated in the core elements of the Encampment experience in this three-week program:
- Living, working and playing in an Encampment community with youth and adults from many cultures and backgrounds.
- Creating a working, self-governing community focused on civic engagement and social justice.
- Exploring critical local and national issues through Core Workshops.
- Developing their leadership potential.
- Visiting community organizations and engaging with local activists.
- Meeting with nationally known activists, authors and experts in social justice and human rights.
- Sharing their ideas through the arts: multimedia, dance, song.
- Sharing their experience with generations of Encampment alums and supporters during the Intergenerational Weekend.
- Inspiring themselves and each other to commit to work for equity and justice in their communities.
Core Workshops provide the bedrock of the Encampment experience. This year’s workshops included:
- Greater than Our Age: looking at the role of young people in social movements (facilitated by Michael Carter)
- Land and Identity: how where we live shapes our identity, making the connections to other places and cultures (facilitated by Mabel Picotte)
- The Stories that Connect Us: how do our stories – individual, familial and community – connect, empower and give us the courage to progress across racial, gender, economic, cultural and geographical boundaries? (facilitated by Elizabeth Summers)
Encampers selected their workshops based on their interests. Core Workshop groups participated in research, discussions and field work specific to their topics; planned and gave presentations, etc. The Core Workshop groups worked closely together each week, with their staff facilitators and got to know each other very well through their work.