We just returned from our Fall 2018 Civil Rights Pilgrimage. Check back soon for our 2019 Pilgrimage dates + applications!
We are committed to change through understanding
At Project Pilgrimage we are called to action, attention and participation in continuing the work started by our civil rights leaders. The idea for an interracial, intergenerational civil rights pilgrimage was conceived in the summer of 2013. In these past months and years we have spent time listening, learning and growing together, as the contexts of racial justice have continued to change. The Black Lives Matter movement has emerged through the hard-won lessons and the unfinished business of the civil rights movement. Our deeply divided political environment is a gulf which is widening at an alarming rate. We believe in the power of ‘going together’, of learning our histories, of listening and speaking across our differences.
We go together
Due to the high interest in the civil rights pilgrimages, participation is a selective and intentional process. When seating the bus, we look to include a broad range of folks with these characteristics in mind:
1. A fundamental desire to study the arc of the Black American freedom struggle
2. A clear, determined commitment to racial and social justice
3. A belief in the value of cross-racial relationship-building
4. Diversity across racial, age, gender, and economic standings
Our experience includes these three key components:
Community Building: We begin our journey with learning and community building. We come together once a week for six weeks to build community across differences and educate each other and ourselves on the history and present reality of injustices in our society. We do this through respectful dialogue, reading and video assignments, meaningful listening, and participatory exercises.
Travel to Impactful Places and Spaces: We travel to the American south where we visit key places in the civil rights movement and spend time with foot soldiers who participated in the movement in a variety of ways. Some of the places we visit include: Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, AL; Oxford and Philadelphia, MS; Nashville and Memphis, TN; and visit organizations such as the Highlander Institute and the Equal Justice Initiative. We engage in learning about our living history from people who were on the front lines of the struggle during the civil rights movement as well as those who are leading the movements of today.
We believe in an educational model in which every person in our community has the capacity to teach and to learn. We engage in a series of workshops to help us build cross-racial understanding and trust. These workshops can occur before our pilgrimage, during our pre-pilgrimage meetings, and after our return home. Some of our previous workshops have been conducted at: The Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, TN; the William Winter Institute at the University of Mississippi; the University of Alabama; and locally facilitated by Dr. Bernard Lafayette – one of the lead organizers with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Reflection and Integration: This civil rights pilgrimage experience impacts in both expected and surprising ways. As we evolve in this experience it provokes us to examine our cultural systems and where we act, where we disrupt, and how we resist. We are changed. How we see is changed. Our journey is only beginning in many ways. When we get home from the traveling part of our pilgrimage, we reflect on and integrate these seismic shifts. Project Pilgrimage hosts post-travel community conversations, individualized mentoring, and facilitative exercises to enrich and support the work of reflection and integration. We contemplate, talk, write and listen. Our final objective is to take action to change our communities after all we have studied, seen and learned.
Our goals are specific:
- Build an interracial and intergenerational community
- Study the civil rights movement and the arc of the African American freedom struggle, especially the movement strategies
- Study the systems of racial inequity
- Learn from the foot soldiers, lift up the ordinary people who take extraordinary actions to change the systems
Please check back soon for our application!