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Southwest Celebrates Black History All Year

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Southwest Airlines proudly celebrated Black History Month throughout February, but it doesn’t stop there. Southwest is committed to giving back to the African American community throughout the year.  Southwest is proud to connect People to what’s important in their lives, and our sponsorships of African American nonprofit organizations throughout the country is one of the many ways we do that.  Selena Wilson, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness at East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) and EOYDC program alumni, shares the story of the Southwest-sponsored college tour series. 

“The mere imparting of information is not education.”

- Carter G. Woodson, African American historian and pioneer of Black History Month

As Carter Woodson so eloquently stated, imparting of information is not education. Experience is education. Through the Southwest-sponsored college tour series, high school students from the East Oakland Youth Development Center have had the opportunity to learn from one of life’s most transformational experiences: travel. The mission of the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) is to develop the social and leadership capacities of youth so that they achieve excellence in education, career, and service to their communities.
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From Left to Right: Pathway to College & Career students Taniya Bazille and Kahmaria Adams departing for the Atlanta College tour.
EOYDC’s Pathway to College and Careers (PTC2) program focuses on preparing students for success in education and careers. Thanks to the support of Southwest, EOYDC is able to cultivate a college going culture while increasing exposure to travel for students from low income families. This Black History Month, we reflect on our recent My Brother’s Keeper, Washington D.C., and Atlanta college tours. For most of the students traveling with us, this was their very first experience flying. Chynna Winters, age 16, admired the wonder of viewing “beautiful sights like the clouds, sunset, cities, and stars” from her window seat. After landing, students explored black history from the past and in the making through tours of renowned Historical Black College and Universities such as Howard University, visits to African/African American museums, and a tour of the White House where they learned more about the Presidency of the first African American man to hold this esteemed office. They also had the opportunity to meet Khalilah Harris, the Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and take a tour of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. This experience was particularly exciting for PTC2 student, Langston Muhammad, “I saw the history of money. WOW! I learned that the person in charge of all the money is Ms. Rosie Rios, she is Secretary of the Treasury and a Bay Area native. That made me proud!” These experiences weren’t just educational; they were enriching and influential. Student, Cota Ward has been an inspiring artist since he was a young child. After visiting the White House, he had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art—an experience that opened his eyes to different forms of expression. In reflecting on this experience he shared that “the artwork was really beautiful and it amazed me how artists used materials that aren’t usually used to make sculptures.” Taniya Bazille was so influenced by her engaging tour of Clark Atlanta University during the Atlanta College tour that she applied and just started as a Freshman at the legendary HBCU this past fall. We thank Southwest for supporting EOYDC’s efforts to not only increase educational excellence for African Americans, but to also expand the breadth of our young people’s dreams through the power of travel. #TravelTransforms.
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From Left to Right: Pathway to College & Career students Cota Ward, Langston Muhammad, Bilal Shabazz, Barry Brand, Carlon Jackson, and Davon Carroll learning about the history of money at The Bureau of Printing and Engraving.