Proud Past- Inspired Future is an organization that annually awards up to four African-American students with a trip to Washington D.C., where they will explore their history and their future.
The 2018 grand prize winners were seniors Aysha Gray and Teona Adams. The winners are chosen by an anonymous panel based on submissions of an “expression” that reflects “both an appreciation for their history and aspirations for their future,” according to Chelsea Center staff Dana Miller.
This year’s winners are sophomore Chris Rhodes and juniors Jessica Peterson, Aryka Cooper and Nakaya Bratcher.
Miller, a chaperone for the weekend, said the most valuable thing about the trip is “to be able to go to the museum and learn about African American history, and the fact that this is the only museum of this nature in the country.”
“There is so much history that you don’t learn about in school. The students were amazed by all the history. (The content ranges) from the minute the slave ships came to America, to the present,” Miller said.
The trip took place from Friday, April 5, to Sunday, April 7. The group hoped to tour the capital on Friday, visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday and return to St. Louis on Sunday.
Peterson’s expression was an essay capturing the struggle of black history as it pertains to her family.
Peterson said, “(This trip) inspires me to be better and strive for greatness knowing that I came from such strong people. I hope that I will understand where I came from.”
Bratcher’s main idea of her expression was “self-love.”
Bratcher said, “(The trip) could really affect what I want to do in the future. Right now, I’m stuck on business and nursing. I feel like once I experience this, everything will change.”
Rhodes wrote a slam poem for his expression addressing present-day black oppression.
Rhodes said, “I hope to learn more about my past and be inspired for my future. I think it will make my future better.”
Miller said, “When you have exposure to history, it gives you inspiration for the future. Different models of success of different people who look like you– definitely inspiring.”
In Cooper’s expression, she hoped to portray that “no matter what you go through, you should rise up against it. The more you fight, the more you are able to win.”
In the future, Cooper said she wants to “be an author of novels. The more I get (exposed) to, the more my mind opens up as well. It helps me learn more about more cultures I can incorporate into my writing.”
About continuing this program, Miller said, “I hope that this program is able to expand. Last year we had two grand prize winners, and this year, four students can go on the trip. Hopefully, we can have it available to more students.”
This be will Josie Krueger’s second year on Echo staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year. She has been recognized by MIPA and JournalismSTL for her work on the Echo.
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