Warriors get Civil Rights learning experience

By Tyhi Conley

MDJ Sports Writer

MARIETTA — Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is typically known as a time for shedding light on the Civil Rights movement and social injustices.

However, for the North Cobb football team, it was that and more.

In what started as a partnership between the Warriors’ football team and The Power of Peace Project, a nonprofit community based organization, ended as a full blown North Cobb community movement.

The partnership was constructed as an eight-week leadership- training program for underclassmen players. The three-day holiday weekend arrived with opportunity, and inline with the ideals of MLK, the two groups planned a trip to Selma, Alabama, with an attempt to serve and gain knowledge.

Word spread and the football team later paired with major players in the city of Acworth. Mayor Tommy Allegood, Acworth Chief of Police Wayne Dennard and Parks and Recreation director James Albright helped fund the trip.

City Councilman Tim Houston and Cobb County NAACP


North Cobb football coach Shane Queen, principal Matt Moody and members of the Warriors football team stand in front of the Edmond Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, during a trip over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.



From B1

Executive Director Deane Bonner joined the group on its way to Selma.

“It was an intersection in life,” North Cobb principal Matt Moody said. “The kids and adults going and developing partnership is a neat experience.”

The trip began Jan. 19 as the group made its first stop at the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery.

“It was hard to hear about the lynchings,” said Moody, who was a history teacher for 20 years before becoming an administrator. “But I still think it’s a good thing that the kids got to hear some of the gruesome stories.”

Then the group headed to Selma, with not only the idea to learn, but a chance to help some of the less fortunate.

The group met the members of the Selma and Southside High School basketball teams. They met at a local church, where they served food to needy families and learned about their lives.

“We came to give back to the community and to serve,” North Cobb football coach Shane Queen said. “To see a town so full of love, they actually end up serving you.”

The service lasted for three hours. They fed nearly 300 people.

The group was scheduled to attend an event later that evening. They went under the assumption they would hear Darrio Melton, the mayor of Selma, as well as local councilman and state senators speak. However, it was Queen, along with his players, who gave speeches of their own.

“We mainly talked about our experiences in Selma,” linebacker Grant Wooten said. “It was from the heart, and everyone was grateful to get to be a part of it.”

The next morning, Bonner tested the players on what they learned on the trip, they were gifted with a MLK T-shirt or hat.

The day continued with a trip to the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, where armed police officers attacked King and Civil Rights Movement demonstrators in 1965, which is now referred to Bloody Sunday. It was a valuable experience for everyone involved.

“In my mind, of course, I’d love to spend time with my family,” Queen said. “But, I’m glad I went. It makes you thankful. (The people of Selma) didn’t have any excuses. Some were dealt a bad hand, but they’re making the most of it and overcoming adversity.”

“Any time you can spend time with your players off the field, it’s great,” he continued. “We didn’t even talk about football, just life, and that’s what growth is all about.”

Before heading home, the players found one more way to help out.

After having the opportunity to share the weekend’s experience with members of the Southside basketball team, the North Cobb players found out the school did not have the money for certain equipment. When the Warriors retuned to Acworth, Queen contacted his vendors and the group came together to donate money for team shoes.

Now, the goal for North Cobb is to continue learning and giving. Moody said he is looking forward to preserving the partnership with The Power of Peace Project. Though no plans have been confirmed, Moody’s hopeful the two Alabama high schools can travel to Acworth next time. “We’d like to thank everybody that was involved,” Wooten said. “It was all love (over) there. We had fun.”

North Cobb football players tour the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery. / Special