Reporters: Jalen Carter & Michael Boyd
Devotion: Psalms 5:1-3
This morning we were greeting early in the morning by our hosts Mr. & Mrs. Schulze. Mr. Schulze gathered us together to give a speech about excellence and how it can carry you through in life. He began with a story about his origins in a small town called Winningen in Germany, and how he met his father later in life due to the circumstances of the war. His family was poor, but his father after coming back from the war was a forager, and knew of ways to get food to help feed his family. When he told his parents he wanted to be in the hotel business as a young man, his parents said “no,” until he persuaded them to allow him to work at the best hotel in the area, which was 100 miles away. He was only 14 years old, and was an elementary school dropout. He worked as a busboy, cleaning tables and shining shoes, and after a few years of carrying himself with excellence, he started moving up in the hotel industry. Still, he committed himself to go return to school one day a week to continue his education. He was promoted to waiter, and then was promoted to a room service director. He later worked on a cruise liner and travelled back and forth between Europe and America before being offered a job in Houston, TX.
Later, after continuing his ascent in the hotel industry through excellence, he furthered his education at Cornell University, where he learned more about the hospitality industry. One day, he got a call to help manage a new hotel company. He and his wife were doing well in Chicago with a hotel he was managing.
He asked his wife, who told him they should pray about it. Mr. Schulze took the position managing the new company. They went threw many trials and tribulations from debt to raising a family, and many construction delays, but after praying and waiting they heard from God that if they were patient enough, great things would happen. The company he was asked to run was called The Ritz-Carlton, and under his leadership, the franchise has become one of the hotel companies most recognized with excellence in the world.
Mr. Schulze then spoke to us students that whatever we do in life, we must do it with excellence, and to never give up. He gave examples of workers who have exhibited excellence and have worked their way up from the bottom to the top because of excellence in their work, because they wanted to be excellent in life.
Shortly after we had breakfast, which was a restaurant buffet with gourmet food and eggs made to order. We needed voucher tickets to get into the restaurant.
Our host, Mrs. Schulze and her “A-team” of daughters and friends helped coordinate our trip in Atlanta and after breakfast, we went on the bus, and headed towards Historic Downtown Atlanta, to an area known as the “Fourth Ward.”Our first stop was the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.
While we were walking towards the building, we saw a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inspiration, Mahatma Gandhi, and a Civil Rights Walk of Fame dedicated to leaders, politicians and entertainers who have contributed to the progress of Civil Rights. We saw such names as Sammy Davis, Jr., Cathy Hughes, Rep. Maxine Waters and Rev. Al Sharpton represented by the size of their two feet.
When we entered the building there were multiple exhibits of different basic human rights that Black people didn’t have because of the color of their skin. For example, Black people were not allowed to be firefighters, but they could visit the fire station. They had older dilapidated wooden shacks for schools while white school children had new brick buildings. They had libraries that they had old ruined books that they had to raise money to nonetheless have their own library, even if it wasn’t in the best of condition.
We watched a 15-minute movie about how young people like myself contributed to the civil rights movement. They mainly contributed with sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and through marching in protest.
After the movie we went and saw Martin Luther King’s neighborhood that he grew up in, which is now a national park. Mr. Donnel, who works with the Historic District Development Corporation, which works to restore houses in the area, gave us a tour.
Martin Luther King’s neighborhood was called “Sweet Auburn,” because it was one of the only neighborhoods to have the rich and the poor live close together in unity. Whites and Blacks learned how to live peacefully together during the time when he was growing up. Nonetheless, there still was segregation, and economically, Black people had to build places where they could go to buy food or go see a movie, go to school, or even have their own YMCA or community bank. Black people had to have their own businesses so that they could cater to the needs of their community, because they couldn’t get their basic needs being excluded from many white stores.
Whites and blacks lived in unity with each other peacefully until the early Civil Rights Movement began, and whites and blacks became more segregated, with opposition to the idea of unity. For example, Martin had two white playmates when he was six but the boys’ mother told them they had to stop playing with him because of his skin color, because their father would get angry that his children were playing with a black boy.
We got to take a picture in front of MLK’s birth home, and walked down the street to the King Center, where Dr. King and his wife Coretta are laid to rest in a crypt surrounded by water. We saw the infinity flame that remains lit in their memory and symbolizes the struggle that we still go through now. We walked by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King and his father co-pastored until King’s unfortunate death in 1968. This was also where his funeral took place.
We took a trolley to Centennial-Olympic Park for lunch at Chick-fil-A. After lunch we went to the CNN building for a tour.
One of our guides, Ms. Trish, has worked as a producer and as a writer for CNN, writing and developing stories on topics concerning politics, sports, and medicine. She has worked with Wolf Blitzer and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Her favorite stories are the uplifting ones. She even did a story on Mr. Schulze and how he overcame poverty to owning multiple hotels and making a success of himself with excellence.
The CNN Center has the world’s longest freestanding escalator in the world. Our tour guide Ms. Michelle first showed us what it sounds like in the control room. One of the men speaking over the control radio made fun of the on camera reporter and presenter saying that they had no emotion and she was “dead.”
Then we went into a guest area where we could see how they produce HLN, which is CNN’s sister channel. It was made in 1982 as CNN 2. They soon changed into Headline News, and now as “HLN.” We learned how a teleprompter works and Michael got to be a “weatherman” for the day and stood in front of a green screen. He disappeared when he put a green sheet over himself.
We saw all the newsrooms for their stations and networks.
After CNN we went on the Wheel of Excellence. It is a Ferris wheel that went around 3 times. We saw The Coca-Cola exhibition building, Centennial-Olympic Park and all of Atlanta’s Skyscrapers, including Phillip’s Arena and the CNN Center.
After that we went back on the bus to go to dinner at The Varsity, which is the largest drive-in fast food restaurant in the world, and was founded in 1928. We mainly had burgers and fries or onion rings, and wore Varsity hats. The restaurant is part of Atlanta’s history, a place that Mrs. Schulze described as a place where you must go at least once if you’re in the city.