As part of the tour, Leon takes students to Montgomery because he sees it as the “cradle of the Confederacy” and the place where the modern civil rights movement began. While there, he tells students how Montgomery was built specifically for the management and distribution of enslaved people, and even has his travelers walk across the docks where some enslaved people first arrived on ships. “My goal is to add to students’ understanding of how this country was built and present the real history,” Leon says.
Setting the stage hundreds of years ago helps students understand just how much oppression sparked the movement of the 1950s and 1960s—and how recent that latter history really was. “This is a history that many students’ grandparents participated in—this isn’t 150 years ago, this happened in my lifetime,” Leon says. One of the ways students can experience this is by meeting Leon’s friend Sheyann Webb—who, at only nine years old, marched from Selma to Montgomery alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. to advocate for voting rights.