BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Several government agencies and local organizations have teamed up to make the Fantastic Voyage a reality and the upcoming trip is still open for registration and donations.
This year will mark the event’s fourth year and students from the age of 10 up to 18 can enjoy a free trip on charter buses from Birmingham to Tuskegee on March 28. Sponsors include Community First Birmingham, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, NAACP Birmingham Chapter, Southwest Alliance Association, Bathsheeba #8, Jefferson County Commission (District 1), Birmingham City Council (District 7) and the Mayor’s Office, House of Electa #895, Queens of the South #892 and Birmingham and Bessemer district attorney’s offices.
“Tuskegee is historic in the nation in regards to African American history,” said Jude Washington, chairman of media and security committee for Community First Birmingham. “The majority of these kids that we take on the trip are from inner-city African-American cities, I mean areas, so it is important for them to have something they can look forward to, so that they can say, ‘I can do that too.'”
Participants will have a law enforcement escort to Tuskegee courtesy of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Mark Pettway told CBS 42 this is a great opportunity for the kids to find mentors and learn about historic Alabama figures, such as scientist George Washington Carver.
“I always look to partner with great organizations to make sure that we have kids out there who have great mentors want to make sure that those mentors understand that we partner together to make sure that we have a plan for prevention to prevent them from going into crime — a life of crime — to make sure they educate these kids and make sure they have a great life,” Pettway said.
In previous years, participants were taken to Selma and Montgomery. Abdul Alwahiid, vice president of Community First Birmingham, shared his inspiration for starting the event.
“Looking at other origins or ethnic cultures, they place emphasis on who they are and where they come from,” Alwahiid said.
He pointed specifically to how Native Americans share their cultural story with their youth.
“We want to take that opportunity as well,” Alwahiid said. “If we can establish and use history as a catalyst to establish pride, that’s what we aim to do.”
Walter Wilson, director of Community First Birmingham, said he believes that if people do not learn about their past, they are doomed to repeat it and he hopes the trip provides participants with positive role models they can identify with.
“Our intention, our motivation is teaching our community, the children of our community — the history of themselves,” Wilson said. “There were great African Americans who contributed to American society and we want them to understand that they come from strong, powerful people that created a powerful legacy.”
According to event organizers, participants will meet at the Birmingham Police Department headquarters building in downtown Birmingham at 8 a.m. March 28 to begin the trip. If you would like to register or donate, you can call (205) 223-1160 or send an email to FantasticVoyage@yahoo.com.
The deadline to register is March 20.
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