California student reveals a piece of Baton Rouge history

California student reveals a piece of Baton Rouge's history
Updated: Jun. 9, 2018 at 11:30 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Curiosity has taken an unusual twist for a young student who might have the chance to contribute to Louisiana's history.

Thiana Aklikokou is embarking on a journey, but it's not the typical journey for a 14-year-old. The California native is uncovering a piece of Baton Rouge's history that we don't hear much about.

"I kept looking in history and found an article by the African American registry that it was this day in history that the Baton Rouge Bus boycott was settled, and I was like what was that. And I was like Baton Rouge, typo, like what," Thiana said.

The eighth-grader would soon learn it wasn't a typo. In fact, the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus boycott served as a blueprint for future initiatives, like the one in Montgomery, Alabama. Thiana decided this would be the perfect project for her history class.

"And I found this topic that no one talked about, that no one did that was so overlooked but important to the civil rights movement, that I just fell in love with it, I did so much research on it, and I fell in love. So, I had to do my topic on it, and here we are," Thiana said.

Thiana did so well that she entered her research into the National History Day contest. Her teacher, Aurelio Cortez, says she learned she had something that wasn't even the largest African American history museum.

"We talked about this and said, is there nothing in the Smithsonian museum at least the African American Smithsonian about this topic and it appears there's not," Cortez said.

Thiana and her teacher are now planning to visit the museum on Wednesday, and their goal is to encourage the museum to create an exhibit for this unmentioned piece of history. Cortez gives all the credit to his student.

"I have all these brilliant students, and Thiana is the cream of the crop. And she's respected among her peers as the brightest," Cortez said.

So what does Thiana feel about all of this? Well, she's just grateful her curiosity brought her this far.

"At this point, win or lose I won because I got to come here to somewhere I've never been before," she said. "A state I've never even been in before that I did a topic on and see this city, see these people meet the people that made it happen. It's just surreal. It's so great."

Thiana will present her research on Monday for the national contest. she is one of two students competing from her home state of California.

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