Meet the Inspiring Students Whose Idea of an Awesome Spring Break Is Activism in Ferguson

College students across America are ditching the traditional sunny spring break locations populated by red solo cups and Diplo-inspired Spotify playlists. This year, more than 155 students are volunteering with the Ferguson Alternative Spring Break initiative to participate in civic education and community service.


Local leaders, activists and scholars will teach on topics such as race, privilege, power and oppression in Ferguson, Missouri, the town which sparked protests, riots and a national debate on race in 2014 after the police shooting and death of the unarmed, black 18-year-old Michael Brown. 

Patricia Bynes, democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township, told AlterNet that the idea started with a phone call from the Atlanta NAACP, who reached out to aid with voter registration and voter education. 

"I reached out to Charles Wade, who is a co-founder of the non-profit Operation Help or Hush. We decided to create a program which became Ferguson Alternative Spring Break."

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598016","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

@whaddupbee / Twitter

Here are the bright, young minds of tomorrow and their takeaways from volunteering in Ferguson:

1. Garrett, University of North Carolina

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598041","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"201","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598015","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"148","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

Garrett Holloway / Twitter

2. Arris, Greenhill School

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598024","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"474","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

Arris / Instagram

"CNN's headline is 'FERGUSON ON EDGE' like chill no one outside your contrived media narrative is ON EDGE maybe try real journalism next time."

"Juxtaposing the media's representation of Ferguson against reality is jaw dropping & I wish everyone could have this experience #FergusonASB."

3. Jas, Swarthmore College

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598035","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"438","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]] 

Patricia Bynes / Twitter

"I think this week has been about making connections with other people whether it be the people that I'm on the spring break trip with or the people of the community have been very passionate and articulate and just expressing their concerns feelings and visions about the future and I think that's really inspiring."

4. Lorren, Johnson & Wales University

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598017","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"400","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"400"}}]]

@loruscetta / Twitter

"Don't believe the media narrative that Ferguson is dangerous. It isn't more dangerous now than is has been for the last seven months."

"Ferguson is everywhere. Coming here made me understand just how normal it is, and how much Ferguson could have been Cranston or Providence."

5. Michael, University of North Carolina

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598019","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"400","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"400"}}]]

@MoreSonx318 / Twitter

"I love these people, 200+ days later and this is still a community on a mission, refueled and stronger.."

6. Priya, Swarthmore College

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598020","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"391"}}]]

@akacharleswade / Twitter

"Humanity seen at the vigil for injured cops, held by #Ferguson protesters. Would like to see cops out praying for black lives that have been lost."

7. Nico, James Madison University

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598042","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"435","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

Patricia Bynes / Twitter

"This past week has just really showed me how strong the power of love can be in the community and how a community can rally behind love with one another especially after these times of unrest."

8. Quoia, University of Rochester

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598033","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"433"}}]]

@URHightness_love / Twitter

"Being a part of #FergusonAlternativeSpringBreak gave me an opportunity to heal from last years fiasco of confusion, rage, and anxiety."

"#FergusonASB reminded how important it is to be ready for the unpredictable but not let it derail your mission."

9. James, Washington University in St. Louis

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598037","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"373","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

Patricia Bynes / Twitter

"My big takeaway is that Ferguson is a normal town just like everywhere else, and its important to have a voice on social issues."

10. Cyn Cyn

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598032","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"400","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"400"}}]]

"I have learned so much from the residents of Ferguson. I came here hurt but I'll be leaving here hopeful. Thank you for that #FergusonASB."

"The energy here is so positive. There is so much wisdom, so much love, and so much hope. 7 months later and ya'll keep hope alive & well."

11. Britton, St. Cloud State University

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"598040","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"442","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

Patricia Bynes / Twitter

"Something I've learned is always listen to people because everyone has different stories and to never really trust things from face value unless you see it yourself."

Cover image via Ferguson Alternative Spring Break

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close