Chilling rains and rush-hour traffic didn't stop many Augusta Preparatory Day School students from conducting their march of remembrance Monday.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott, 11 juniors and seniors in the civil rights class at Augusta Prep walked from the Paine College chapel on Druid Avenue to their school campus on Flowing Wells Road - an 8.1-mile route.
"A lot of people living in Montgomery had to walk eight miles to work and then again at night on their way home for 381 days," said Andrea Clarke, a 17-year-old senior at Augusta Prep. "Even in the rain. Even with cars zooming by."
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man.
A few days later, a group of black community leaders in Montgomery, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., organized a boycott of all buses in the city. The boycott lasted until Dec. 21, 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court proclaimed bus segregation unconstitutional.
Parks died in October, which added poignancy to this year's march, said Jack Hall, Augusta Prep's head of schools and civil rights teacher.
In his fourth year of leading the march, Hall said this year's walk was the longest because the students wanted it that way.
"In honor of Rosa Parks' death and it being the 50th anniversary, the students wanted the march to have more significance," he said.
Choosing to begin Monday's march at a historical black college such as Paine College added that significance, Hall said.
"They really wanted to get a taste of what it was like for the men and women that had to walk to work every day," he said. "I think they got that. I think they gained a greater understanding of their sacrifice."
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