Phillips told Vikings.com that he was moved to tears twice during the tour.
The first case occurred at the memorial to Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who was abducted, tortured and lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in the grocery store from his family.
Later, Phillips was overcome with emotion by a drawing of a slave auction, in which is shown a chained father, already sold, and a mother begging on her knees as a white man snatches a slave from her. arms child.
“You can see the children’s names and ages, then the price they sold – and how [young] girls sold for a higher dollar amount because they were used for ‘breeding’ purposes…to be raped,” Phillips said. in this position where your child is ripped off your guns and auctioned off to be raped and forced to work in slavery for the rest of their lives… you can’t compartmentalize that at all. It got me.”
Kendricks was touched early on by the section on various African American athletes.
“What goes through my mind is the history of time, especially in our country, I feel [African Americans’] freedom has, in a way, depended on their success in sport,” he said. “Even at the time [before integration] – they couldn’t be in the same hotels or buses – part of their financial independence and part of their stardom came from their success in sports.
“Even though a lot has changed and we’ve come so far, there are a lot of kids today who come from downtown who don’t have the chance to go to college, who don’t But they’re really good at sports, and it’s an avenue for wealth. It’s an avenue for financial freedom for their families,” Kendricks continued. “Even though times have completely changed, you can kind of correlate the two a bit.”
The Vikings linebacker was grateful for the opportunity to join Project Success and spend time with young people who inspire him.
Kendricks pointed out that these Minneapolis high schoolers could be eventual leaders of the country.
“I’m very hopeful,” Kendricks said. “I feel like they’re brave. Braver than ever. More informed than I was at that age, that’s for sure. More aware.
“They have a great understanding of life, I feel like at that age [having gone] during the pandemic,” he added. “They knew what it was like to be taken away from the people they love [and being] in isolation. So they realize what’s important.”
Project Success executive director and founder Adrienne Diercks said the trip proved particularly meaningful after the COVID-19 pandemic forced events in 2020 and 2021 to be “planned.” remotely via Zoom.
Diercks expressed his pride in the students and his gratitude to the Vikings, who sponsored the trip to DC and whose Social Justice Committee donated $100,000 at Project Success last winter.
The mission of Project Success remains the same today as when Diercks founded the organization 28 years ago. to give them tools that will accompany them throughout their lives.
“One of the things we believe in at Project Success is that every student is unique and different. And every student, we know, has what they need inside of them,” Diercks explained. “So we facilitate workshops, activities, opportunities for excellence, global experiences. Every trip is unique. … It’s about community and partnership and experiencing these things together.”
Diercks referred to a time for reflection organized within the group after the visit to the museum.
“Peter (a student) talked about the importance of unity, and things can only change if we are together. A lot of people talked about the importance of learning true history, and they talked of all the things they didn’t know until they went through this today,” Diercks said. “The other thing that’s so inspiring is that we’ll never lose the community we’ve built today. We will all remember it for the rest of our lives. And that’s just the beginning. Our partnerships with the Vikings, with the players, with the communities, continue to deepen. And I always say this is just the beginning of things we don’t know, but it will lead to positive change.
“We’ve seen so many changes since our first visit when the museum opened, where we had a student from every high school in Minneapolis, and we came to see the museum the same day the president [Barack] Obama saw the museum,” Diercks continued. “There were several different things. One of the things is the diversity of the group today. … Lots of different experiences. Several reasons to come. As well as the diversity of actors who participated, which led to diverse perspectives on what we shared as we left the museum and what we bring back to our communities.
“That was one element. The other element is the awareness of our students – and even all of us who have come to the museum – the awareness of the importance of truth, the importance of history and the importance of our stories,” she said. . “It’s palpable in a different way than five years ago – and that’s progress.”
High school students could hear Jordan, who played for the Vikings from 1982 to 1994, during the trip.
Jordan emphasized the word “perseverance” to young people.
Whether it’s persevering through the global pandemic, Jordan noted, or through societal tensions and racism, resolve in the face of hardship builds character.
“For us as African Americans – us as Americans, all of us – to go through what we’ve been through… It’s not pretty on all sides, you know?” said Jordan. “I mean, there are people of color who have certainly paid a price, but there are also a lot of people who are allies. And I saw that at the museum too, where there were allies, Caucasians, who stepped up – to their detriment It’s also persistence on their part to try to overcome some of these things.
“It will take more persistence to get where we need to go because we’re not there. Not far,” Jordan said.
Phillips and Kendricks knew they would continue to process the museum visit over the next few days.
Kendricks called the locker room a microcosm of society, saying some should learn a life lesson from how a football team works.
“You have to work alongside someone you don’t necessarily agree with all the time. You can have totally opposite points of view, come from totally different backgrounds…but you all have to work together to try to win,” Kendricks said. “And you do that every day. You don’t have time to disagree with someone. You don’t have time to hate someone. You have to work together for a common goal. We we’re a lot more alike than we’re different, that’s for sure. Basically, no matter what.
Phillips struggled with the dichotomy of dissatisfaction with the current state of humanity, while acknowledging progress and reasons for hope.
“I would like to tell you that I left with a lot of hope in my heart, because you get through this and you see the great success, but we still have such a long way to go,” he said. . . “But it’s super great to be with these [students] and see how empowered they are and how confident they are – with the world as their oyster, the future is truly bright for them.”