Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke at Fort Valley Middle School Thursday.
The civil rights activist, who worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., told stories of life during segregation and emphasized the importance of education, specifically science, math, and foreign languages
Afterward, Jackson made also made a stop at Fort Valley State University, where he stressed the importance of voting.
"You use the vote to affect legislation, to affect local and federal government. That's an American Democratic right," said Jackson.
He also talked about the need for more black engineers.
"I've been in many situations where I've gone to internships and I'm the only African-American, I'm the only female there, so there's a huge need for us to be there," said Ashley Davis.
She is a senior at Fort Valley State is planning on getting a graduate degree in engineering.
Davis said hearing Jackson helped bring struggles of the past closer to home.
"As young African-Americans at an HBCU, you hear the stories of, 'Oh, here's what happened in the past and all this,' but you never have that fire, that drive they had in the past," she said, "To see somebody who actually went through it and not just read it in a book, it takes it to a whole other level."
Jackson says he hopes students can take away three things from his visit: the importance of academics, how to co-exist with other cultures, and to use their moral strength to break the cycle of poverty.