Project Pilgrimage offers three programs of action, each centered on developing, cementing, and then launching and supporting citizens as they grow into impactful leaders. Each program takes aim at preparing us to thrive in inter-racial and inter-generational environments.
The concept for a civil rights pilgrimage was conceived in the summer of 2013 and we have learned a great deal along the way. In past months and years we have spent time listening, learning and growing together as the contexts of racial justice have continued to change. We have seen the Black Lives Matter movement emerge through the hard-won lessons and the unfinished business of the civil rights movement. Our deeply divided political environment demands all of our attention and participation in continuing the work started by civil rights leaders. We as a nation are in need of dialogue and understanding and we are fully committed to doing all we can to effect change.
Due to the high demand and interest in the civil rights pilgrimages, participation is a highly selective process. We seek to include a broad range of folks with these characteristics in mind:
- Diversity across racial, age, gender, and economic standings
- A fundamental desire to study the arc of the Black American freedom struggle
- A clear, determined commitment to racial and social justice
- A belief in the value and essentiality of cross-racial relationship-building
- A collective full investment in all aspects of the experience
We conduct the pilgrimages twice a year, in early spring and early autumn. For more information, please see the Pilgrimage page.
We offer associateships that are intended to help pilgrimage alumni build solid foundations for professional pursuits. The associateships are 6 months in length and support people in building a grounding in values, actions, relationships, and goals. Associates commit to three kinds of engagement. First, they are paired with pilgrimage alumni with expertise in one of four vital social justice domains: law and justice; health and medicine; social work and counseling; or university graduate programs. Student alumni meet regularly with this mentor to discuss career goals and are introduced to broader networks. Second, Associates work collaboratively as a cohort to imagine, plan, and execute a once-a-year all-community gathering to ignite activism and spark celebration. This curated evening of story telling, poetry, music, essays, art and actions, by and about our richly diverse communities, brings us together to share in our work and our dreams. Any and all pilgrimage alumni are invited and encouraged to bring family, friends and community. Third, Associates design and implement a three-step pathway of activism on one social justice issue of significance in our communities. Each step builds an understanding of perspectives and offers opportunities for direct action. Points of focus might include cause and effect, solutions offered though non-profit work, civic government, agencies and private sectors. In becoming an Associate, student alumni grow and further become leaders in foundational community-based ways. Associates receive a stipend of $1,500 for six months and they commit 10 hours a week. Application materials are due twice a year for review by a small committee of pilgrimage alumni.
Our democracy is at great risk. We are confronting dangerous levels of economic insecurity and inequality; corrosive political polarization; deep and unaddressed racial and ethnic divides; and political leaders who are either unable or unwilling to help us find the better angels of our nature. But these times are not unprecedented, nor are these challenges insurmountable.
If we wish to make progress and move towards a more just and perfect union, we must do so together. We must build community and spend time listening to one another with compassion and intention. We must seek inspiration from the stories of those who refused to bend to overwhelming odds, and instead chose to join the long march of those who came before us.
Please consider joining a four-month journey of mutual learning and community building. We will spend one month each with a different book for four months, engaging in community discussions, facilitated exercises, and more, as we stand up and stand together to help create the world we want to live in, and build the future we want to leave to the next generation.
For more information, please visit the Inspiring Chapters page.