For the past seven years, the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs has offered an alternative to tanning on a beach or hitting the slopes for spring break — an opportunity to visit the most vital landmarks of the civil rights movement.This spring break, 20 students and advisers will travel to five cities in Georgia and Alabama on a trip organized by CBCSA associate director Rosalind Conerly and Marshall School of Business graduate student Yasmin Scott. There, they will gain hands-on experience with black history and the present condition of black people in the South.For the students on the trip, traveling to the South is an introduction to a completely new way of life. For many, it is their first trip on a plane. Everything about the culture of the South — from the stereotypical Southern hospitality to soul food — comes as a shock for students who have never been to the Cotton Belt.This culture shock, according to Conerly, is an important part of a trip meant to open the eyes of students to both the past and the present experience of black Americans.“It’s an incredible trip because there is so much for students to take in and process at once,” Conerly said. “They’re looking at how far we’ve come from and, at the same time, the fact that there is so much work to be done. I think it’s really a very moving week for all of us.”The trip begins in Atlanta, where the group will visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the King Center and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached.Then the group will travel to Birmingham and to Selma, where they will visit a variety of civil rights museums, centers and landmarks, including the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Brown Chapel.The next three days will encompass the service portion of the trip. For two days, students will work in local schools in Selma and Montgomery. They will also spend a day working with the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that provides free legal representation to defendants and prisoners.Founded and led by acclaimed lawyer Bryan Stevenson, the Initiative will provide a chance for the USC students on the trip to get a hands-on look at how the color of one’s skin can still affect justice.“It’s interesting because the students see how people are still being jailed, they’re still being oppressed and there are still people in the South having to fight every day to do something about it,” Scott said. “It’s eye-opening.”The final leg of the trip takes place at Tuskegee University, a prominent black college, before returning to Atlanta.Each night of the trip, Conerly makes sure that students have the opportunity to meet USC alumni who have moved or returned to the South. She believes it is an important part of connecting to both the history of the civil rights and to the current lifestyle of many Southern black communities.There are two major reasons that the CBCSA travels to the South every spring. One is to see where the South is now, to see a way of life still steeped in both racism and poverty and to bring that reality back to USC.The other is to see where the civil rights movement came from, to see the roads where leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. marched and were beaten and jailed.It’s been 50 years since King led a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, but the city still remains poor and segregated. When students first step foot in the slow-moving city, Conerly says they all ask out the same shocked question — “Do people really live like this?”“It’s a different type of poor than they’ve ever seen before,” Conerly said. “And I think it’s important for students to see how other people live, to see where other people are coming from and to see just how different it is from their own lives.”While in Selma, the groups meet with a variety of USC alumni. The most prominent is a couple who moved from Los Angeles to Selma to reopen its movie theater. Once a major hub of life in Selma, it’s now labeled as “historic,” a relic of the past.When the Selma movie theater first reopened, older locals broke down in tears as they stepped through the front doors. For many older members of the Selma black community, this was the first time at the movies when they weren’t forced to take the back door and climb steps up to the balcony.The theater closed years later, unable to make a profit in a poor community where going to the movies on the weekend is a foreign concept.Students also visit other important landmarks in Selma, such as the home of Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson, where Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders stayed whenever they passed through.At Jackson’s home, they see the table where King sat while planning many of his greatest marches. After hearing about these landmarks for so long, students are finally able to see some of the most important pieces of black history.“You go through this house, and [Jackson] will point at a chair and say, ‘Martin sat there,’ or point at a bucket and say, ‘That’s where Martin would soak his feet after a long day of marching,’” Conerly said. “It makes it real. It’s shocking, how real it makes it all.”One year, during their tour, a student noticed Rep. John Lewis, a former Freedom Rider and an integral leader in the civil rights movement, taking his own tour of the Jackson home. After a moment of hesitation, the group approached Lewis and spoke with him.It is these types of moments that Conerly says make each trip unique and special for the students on it. Although she and Scott have carefully planned out each day of this year’s trip, they know that unexpected surprises are bound to come up — whether this means meeting a former Freedom Rider or simply speaking with someone who can remember listening to Dr. King speak in person.“It’s the type of trip that is going to change these students’ lives,” Scott said. “It makes that big of an impact, and we are incredibly excited to be able to provide that experience.”Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the trip was organized by the Black Student Assembly. It is the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.