Day 20
Boston, MA

Today was an amazing day! It started off with going to Dick’s Sporting Goods and getting goggles to go swimming. But that is weak compared to what happened at the real deal- FENWAY PARK!

We got to the field and got our special passes to go out onto the field. During our time on the field we met some of my top favorite ball players, like Dee Gordon, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Hanley Ramirez. We also met Shane Victorino, who gave a great speech about making a career and what to follow. He told us to get good grades and stay in school. My favorite part of the meet and greet was that Shane Victorino gave me his batting gloves! Yes, batting gloves! Unbelievable- huge thanks to him!

After meeting all the Red Sox players, we took a tour of the stadium and Hall of Fame- but that’s not all. We got to go on the top of the Green Monster! A lifelong dream to go on the top and it finally happens! The view was great, absolutely worth how much someone would spend on a ticket for the seats up there!

While trying to catch some BP HRs we were asked to go back down and for Mo’ne to throw out the first pitch. When our team was called we walked to the pitching mound, passed the ball to Mo’ne, and she fired a strike to Dustin Pedroia. She went and shook his hand, and I got to take a picture with him! Another dream accomplished down in the books. After our time on the field we headed up to our seats and watched the game. I also got a famous Fenway Frank that went great with some cracker jacks. But as we were watching, the Red Sox soon fell behind 3-1. But luckily it was bases loaded with Xander Bogaerts up, our rising new star. The count was 3-2 when he hit a base clearing single, making the score 4-3. That’s how the game would end.

The atmosphere after winning at Fenway was amazing and to be a part of that was one of the best feelings in the world. And to top it off, we went inside…INSIDE the Green Monster! Another wish came true! This day has been like a dream and I wouldn’t trade any memories for it. Except maybe winning the World Series in 2013, but just maybe. Thank you Coach Steve for giving the team the chance to go to Fenway Park (best place on Earth)!!

-Jack Rice #25

Day 14
Louisville, KY

Today we made our way to Louisville. When we arrived in Louisville we went to visit the Ali Center (Muhammad). At the Ali Center we got a chance to go inside the boxing ring and feel what Ali's punches felt like. I also learned that Ali started to box when someone stole his bike. He needed to know how to protect himself. We were also able to make our own coins and tried to balance a ball in the middle of a see-saw. We also went to the gift shop where I bought a wristband that has words and phrases that Ali believed in. Some of the words and phrases were: dedication, find greatness within, spirituality, giving, and respect.

After the Ali Center we went to check into our hotel and put on our uniforms for our game at 7:00 PM. Before the game they fed us pulled pork sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and cold drinks. The game score was 0-0 until the 4th inning, when we scored 3 runs. We started piling on runs from there. At the end of the game the score was 11-1. The Monarchs got the W again. Then we went to our hotel, ate, and went to bed.

-Brandon Gibbs #9

Day 13
Memphis, Tennessee

Today we went to one of the best museums we have been to. It was the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. The exhibits were really informative and in-depth they also brought the problems from today’s world and the past into one thing. The first part of the museum was about slavery. It gave lots of the details about Africans and becoming enslaved as well as being forced to America. The conditions that they had to go through were terrible and its shocking that people would be cruel enough to tear families apart to enslave free people. After that exhibit, we learned about Civil Rights activists and the influence that young people, such as SNCC had on the movement. we also watched a cool video on the history of African-Americans in the United States.

Then, we learned more about topics in the Civil Rights Movement, such as school integration, Freedom Rides, and Sit-Ins. We learned about what people had to go through to be treated equally. After we saw the exhibits, a history professor named Professor McKinney talked to us about our time at the NCRM. The Professor was a really great speaker and sounded like a really cool guy. At the end of it all I couldn’t help but to feel a little guilty about what my race had done in history, hopefully in the future all racism and discrimination with be over with. After the museum we went to the death place of MLK. It was crazy to think such an incredible person had spent is last hours where I was standing. All in all, it was another learning filled day and one I will remember for a long time.

-Carter Davis #22

Day 12
Little Rock, Arkansas

Today was another special day. We started the day off by visiting Little Rock Central High School. This was the most significant part of the day because it was one of the biggest events in the start of the Civil Rights Movement. Everyone knows about the Little Rock 9, but don’t realize the others who came afterwards. They were also a big part in the integration of the high schools. We met one of the girls who came after most of the Little Rock 9. Her name was Cybil Jordan Hampton. Her talk was very inspirational to us and motivated us to continue on our journey for equality.

After the visit to the high school we drove to our game. We were playing a slightly older team but we felt confident. We won the game in front a big crowd. Following the game we went back to the hotel, changed, and headed over the the Arkansas Travelers game. It was so cool, we got to run out on the field to our positions. Being at second base was awesome. I had a great time at the game hanging out with Mo and Scott. The team ended up losing but we had a lot of fun.

-Jahli Hendricks #18

Day 11
Jackson, MS

Yesterday was a really cool day. The first stop after breakfast was the Medgar Ever’s house museum. In there we got a lecture about the history of Medgar Ever’s himself and the facts leading up to his assassination.

The next stop was to the last Freedom Riders stop in Jacskson, Mississippi. We learned about the deal that John F. Kennedy made. The deal was that that the Freedom Riders would be safe and not mobbed in exchange he wouldn’t enforce the desegregation law on interstate buses. Because of this the riders were arrested and sent to Parchman Penitentiary.

The next stop on our agenda was to go across the street from the baseball field to the COFO building. In that building we talked and watched videos about the groups that were involved with the Civil Rights Movement such as the S.N.C.C., Core and many more.

After we watched the video the other team came in. The team was called the Junk Stars. We talked with them for a little bit and had a meal with them provided by their Moms. Before we headed out to the field some special guests came. They were baseball players from the Mississipi Braves. Even though I couldn’t play in this game because I was too old, it was fun to watch.

Our next stop is Little Rock Arkansas.

-Tamir Brooks #8

Day 10
Selma, AL

Today we drove from Montgomery, AL to Selma, AL. Today was cool and scary because we walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I stood where Martin Luther King and John Lewis stood and which was amazing to see. It was also amazing to know if it wasn’t for them me and the team wouldn’t be here today. It is really cool to know how far we have come.

At the end of the bridge there was a museum that showed the March of Selma and the history of the National Voting Rights. It also showed the people who were involved in the march, and we really got to see and feel what it was like back then. After the bridge we got a police escort to the Boys and Girls Club, which was cool. The kids were funny and we were dancing to Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae. After that we went to the hotel to chill for the rest of the night.

-Myles Eaddy #5

Day 9
Montgomery, AL

We left Birmingham around 9:00 AM and hit the road to Montgomery, Alabama. It was only around an hour ride (including getting breakfast along the way) until we got to the Rosa Parks Museum in AL.

The visit to the Rosa Parks Museum was short, but powerful and left me with more feelings than I came in with about her. My favorite part of the museum was the kids’ section. They made it into a time machine to draw in one’s attention. This was my favorite part because of all the components that made it look like a time machine. It helped me focus too

After the Rosa Parks Museum we went to the Civil Rights Memorial Center where they have a fountain that has all the deaths of the people who stood up for themselves when fighting for their rights. Also, there were interactive exhibits, a theater, and one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen: The Wall of Tolerance. The Wall of Tolerance is a big screen where people’s names are inscribed and they will be there forever.

After the emotional museum visit we went to the Montgomery Biscuits minor league baseball game. The game started off with them losing 0-4, but by the time we left in the 7th the Biscuits were leading 11-4. A great way to end a hot night in Montgomery, Alabama.

-Jack Rice #25

Day 8
Birmingham, AL

Today was a very good day. We met the mayor who had some very nice and encouraging words for us. He had a baseball section in his office, with baseballs and photos, w it was really cool.

Next was the most important part of the day we visited the 16th Street Baptist Church where the four girls were killed. We spoke with people who were around when it actually happened. It was very moving. Afterwards, we visited the Civil Rights Institute. There were exhibits about segregation from water fountains, schools and movie theaters. Some other exhibits featured the Freedom Rides, the Voting Rights Act and the four little girls.

We then crossed the street to Kelly Ingram Park. It was the spot where the police let the hoses and dogs on students, being here made the pictures that we have seen very real. The park has many statues remembering the things that happened that day.

My favorite part of the day was next, baseball. We played at Rickwood Field, the oldest park in the country. We wore our Philadelphia Stars Uniforms, they were really cool. The field was beautiful and the backstop was 90 feet behind the plate. Playing there was one of the best experiences I have ever had. After the game I met my 3rd cousins and signed some things for them. We then went to a place to celebrate Mo’ne’s birthday and we slid down a big hill, it was really fun. We came back to the hotel to have pizza and now we are watching TV

-Scott Bandura #7

Day 6
Spartanburg, SC

Today was a great day! First we road over to Wofford College, a Division 1 college in South Carolina. We were greeted by the head coach of the Wofford baseball team and a player for the baseball team named Demetrius Jennings. Demetrius played for the Monarchs when he was our age, and he is a great role model. I learned so much from him including how he got to where he is today. He said “Number one is academics, number two is hard work, and number three is support.”

Demetrius and the head coach took us and the team we played against on a tour of the campus. The campus was beautiful and lunch was great. My favorite part was the building called The Space. They said that it’s a building full of connections. In the Career Development office, they put the career that you want into the search database and it pairs you up with an internship. I thought that was pretty cool.

After the tour, coach let us change in the locker room. After we changed we played the game. We ended up winning 9 to 5.

- Jared Sprague-Lott #12

Day 4
Richmond, Virginia

After winning 14-3 yesterday we felt good about ourselves. When we arrived at the hotel today we had a group of people waiting outside to welcome us. That was really cool. The team that we would be play today was in the same hotel as us yesterday. We got to hangout with the other team. They were all fun to hang around, but once game time came around, it was game time.

We had to pack our bags and go to the next city, but before we left Virginia we played a game at RF&P Park. It might have been one of the best fields I ever played on. They had enough seats for a couple hundred people and they had an awesome Trolley car in left field.

Before the game started they announced our names and played the 'Star Spangled Banner'. Then game on, we were batting first. We put up four runs in the first inning. In the second we scored 3, 6 in the fourth, 3 in the fifth and 3 in the 6th. The team had a great performance, everybody was hitting the ball. I went 4-4 at the plate, Tamir hit a bomb off of the wall and the rest of the lineup made great contact as well. After the game we took pictures with the other team and said our goodbyes.

Then we were on our way to the USA Baseball Academy. Traffic was running smooth, that was nice. Once we arrived to the USA baseball complex we were all amazed. The fields were beautiful. The director introduced himself to the team and told us about what goes on there. He said “We want the best and we search for the best”. Thats what I like to hear, so every time I step onto the baseball field I give it everything I have because I owe it to the team.

- Zion Spearman #44

Day 2
Washington D.C.

Today was a long, busy day. We began by visiting the White House. We took a self guided tour after going through lots of security. It wasn’t very exciting, because we were only able to see 5 rooms. Afterwards, it was very hot so we all took our suit jackets off.

We visited the Department of the Interior Building where we learned about a few murals and met Jonathan Jarvis, the Director of National Park Service. The best part of the day was meeting Congressman John Lewis, who told us his story about the Civil Rights Movement. He was awesome. His stories were very moving and he is living history of that time. All of the other leaders of that time have passed away. It was hard to grasp that he was the one standing in front of all of the pictures of the march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We had some good questions for him and he answered all of them. I asked: During the second round of the Freedom Rides, how did it feel as a student to go against the orders of Dr. King despite his popularity and power in the movement?

After that we visited the Nationals’ batting cages and game room. We received signed baseballs and Sami got a bat from Michael A. Taylor. The Nationals’ short stop Ian Desmond gave us all batting gloves. The Nats were winning 2 to 1 against the Rays when it started to rain again. Once the rain delay began, we decided to leave. Now I sit in my bed reflecting on the amazing day I had and the amazing days ahead.

- Scott Bandura #7

Our Upcoming Tour

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” ― Winston S. Churchill

History teaches us where we’ve been and, in doing so, provides us with a much clearer picture of where we are, and where we’re going. But history is always written by the winners.

I was born in 1961, which means that I was alive for a good portion of the modern Civil Rights Movement. But, for the life of me, I can’t recall it ever being discussed or even mentioned in my neighborhood or my home. The nuns in the catholic school I attended certainly never discussed it with us. I guess it didn’t concern us - living in an all-white working class neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia. Life was good. We put money in the collection basket every Sunday to help the poor, unfortunate people in other countries. By ignoring what was going on in our own country, it was if it didn’t exist. It didn’t matter to us. It wasn’t our problem. But it was.

Unfortunately, I didn’t understand that until I was an adult. It wasn’t until I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X that I started to realize how little I knew about the world outside my little bubble. Everything I knew (or thought I knew) about other races and religious groups was taught to me by the older kids in the neighborhood. I never questioned their knowledge. They were older. They knew about those things. But they didn’t. And many of them still don’t. And this is why we find ourselves in the place we are now - in a country divided by race and blinded by hate, with little or no capacity to understand what fuels the fires in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.

We must look back to see forward. Education and dialogue has to replace hatred and blind ignorance. As with the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago, that change has to start with our young people. But, in order for them to carry out this important mission, we must arm them with the knowledge and understanding needed to effect positive change.

This is why, every Friday evening for the past six months, I’ve sat in a cramped old locker room in the Marian Anderson Rec Center in South Philly with 14 adolescents, watching documentaries, learning about and discussing the Civil Rights Movement. They are the 13 & 14 year-old Anderson Monarchs and they are our future.

To enhance their studies, we will be boarding our authentic 1947 Flxible Clipper bus and embarking on a 23-day, 20-city, 4000-mile journey through the Deep South. The kids will visit the actual sites where many of the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement took place. They’ll meet people who were actively involved in the fight for civil rights and hear their stories, first-hand. They’ll not only learn about their history, they’ll be able to touch it. It is our hope that they’ll come away with a better sense of who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going.

Through their experiences and through the magic of social media, we hope to educate others, young and old, on the people, places and events from half a century go, and give them a better understanding of where we are as a nation today. Maybe then, as Winston Churchill suggests, we’ll be able to see a brighter future.

- Steve Bandura, Coach

NBC Nightly News

The Anderson Monarchs Take a Trip of a Lifetime

ESPN

The Anderson Monarchs Civil Rights Tour

Philadelphia Inquirer

Mo'ne Davis and barnstorming team visit historic Birmingham church

THE HERALD SUN

Baseball, Southern hospitality and a sense of history

One-on-One with Jim Gardner

Channel 6 Action News

To the Anderson Monarchs baseball team, Steve Bandura is a coach, mentor, teacher and so much more.

Baseball and Black History.

-Frank Bruni
New York Times

CBS Sports Radio Interview

Bringing Inner-City African-American Kids Back to Baseball: An Interview with Steve Bandura of the South Philly Anderson Monarchs.