Sunday, March 25, 2018

Lawrie's last post

At the Medgar Evers House, I learned who Medgar Evers was and how he contributed to the Civil Rights Movement. It reminded me that there were many people who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement and sacrificed their lives, and I was glad to be able to learn about a new figure. The Mississippi Civil Rights and History Museum had a lot of information that I found interesting. My time there was particularly memorable because I met a Freedom Rider who spoke about his experiences.

I was really excited to go on the Little Rock Central High School Tour in Arkansas. It was crazy to think about how not too long ago, the Little Rock Nine went there. The tour gave me a lot of in-depth information that I hadn’t learned before from textbooks. I learned just how terribly the Little Rock Nine was treated when they tried to attend classes at Central High, and I also learned about the Lost Year that occurred the year after the Little Rock Nine went there. The Mosaic Templars Museum was also an interesting experience, and I learned about the importance of 9th Street and the businesses that flourished there in the past.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Tennessee was full of information, but I particularly appreciated that it talked a lot about the other side of the Civil Rights Movement. There was the peaceful and nonviolent approach, but the museum also talked about the other approaches to the movement, such as the contributions from Malcolm X. This was the first museum that really addressed this other aspect of the movement. The Slave Haven Museum was also a memorable experience, because we got to tour a house that was an actual stop for the Underground Railroad. It was crazy to hear about the story behind the house, and to see the underground cellar where the runaway slaves had to sneak into. Lastly, the Ernest Withers Museum was also interesting, and I learned about who the man was, as well as the conspiracy theories that arose following his death.

Overall, this trip was packed with information, and I took away a lot from it. I learned much more about the Civil Rights Movement than I ever did from my textbooks, and was reminded that these events occurred not too long ago. The best part was that I shared my experiences daily with my family and friends. The discussions we had at the hotel also allowed us to process what we’d learned throughout the day. I feel that it is important for us to talk about these things, and that it is more important than ever for us to take action and fight for justice today. I’m thankful that I had such a memorable spring break, and I know that I will definitely be thinking and talking about the things I learned from this trip.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lawrie Zhang's post

The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta was an amazing museum, and I really liked being able to see the Morehouse exhibit, where many original documents written by Martin Luther King Jr. were displayed. I also liked how the museum talked about civil and human rights on a global scale. Our speaker, Charles Steele, shared shocking statistics indicating that there is still much inequality in our world today, and that we must continue to fight for change. Being at the King Center was an amazing experience, and I particularly liked being in the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Being inside the church and hearing the speakers play Martin Luther King’s sermons was indescribable, and it was a very memorable experience. 

The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery was also an unforgettable experience. It was amazing to see the black circular table with the names inscribed into it, and to dip my hand in the water. The Equal Justice Initiative made me aware of many shocking and saddening statistics about those being incarcerated in our country. I had no idea that many extremely young children were being given life sentences in prison, and I was glad to learn about the organization and their cause. It was also powerful to see the jars filled with the dirt from lynching sites lined up in shelves against the wall. The Rosa Parks Museum was very informative, because I learned many new facts. I didn’t know that Rosa Parks decided on her own to stay in her seat, and that it hadn’t been planned beforehand. Only afterwards was her arrest used as the forefront of the bus boycott and the Civil Rights Movement because it was a clean arrest. I also learned that Jo Ann Robinson, a teacher, along with two students made thousands of pamphlets to hand out to inform others about the bus boycott that was to take place. 

The Dexter Avenue Parsonage was a moving experience, because we got to tour the house MLK lived in when he was in Alabama, and we were able to see where the bomb exploded at the front of the house. The Footprints to Freedom Tour at the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma was very memorable and shocking, as we experienced just a fraction of what slaves in the past had to go through. We learned more about the countless people who participated in the marches during the Civil Rights Movement, and got to walk across the famous bridge ourselves. 

In the past few days, I’ve already learned and experienced so many unforgettable things. I can’t wait for the rest of the trip, and to learn more. 


Here Are Is Some Interesting History I Learned in Alabama:

Jo Ann Robinson started the boycott of buses (school teacher) with printing letters that Thursday night 

The city tired to sue the NAACP for the 13,15,16 amendment for the boycott 

The church played an important role in many areas of the civil rights movement. The MONTGOMERY bus protest brought the various denominations of clergy to the front of social action and united them in common causes. Congregations looked up to their pastors out of respect for the church but also because these men were often the most highly educated in their community. 

The NAACP chooses Rosa parks to be the face of the civil rights movement because she was light skin and was an ideal image. She had a job, attended school and had many positions of power within the church and community and her arrest was clean. She was not the only women involved because multiple Women had altercations on the buses before her and there were other bus boycotts going on.

The bus drivers were given police powers. They were allowed to carry firearms and sometimes they went off on the bus and people were hurt. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Atlanta was very interesting and fun. We had the opportunity to speak to Charles Steal who has taken over Dr. Kings Foundation SCIC. This was so powerful because when he got the call to come to the foundation it was literally at its lowest with no funding and barely able to pay the bills. However in a few years he raised over $20 Million Dollars for the foundation and was able to build a new building for the foundation. He was able to do this without many believing in him. Moreover, he had some profound wisdom for the group. “Silence in the face of evil is evil it’s self,” this statement is so powerful to me because the civil rights movement is really not over because there are still a lot of acts of discrimination still occurring. However, people are content with the state of where we are. Moreover, I think that people are more selfish now and have the mindset that “it’s not affecting me” so they do not see the need to do anything. 

Additionally, he spoke on a new article that was published on February 28th, 2018 in the Washington Post. The article spoke on the racial gap in earning had not changed since 1968. This was shocking because you would think that it has increased however we are still not equal. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Atlanta, Georgia

Today we listened to words of wisdom from the current President of the SCLC, Charles Steele, at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. He spoke on his knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's career as president of the SCLC and reveled many truths that have never been revealed by public media. It is widely believed that MLK was assassinated by man who disagreed with his beliefs but in reality, many people who worked closely with MLK, such as his photographer and accountant, were on the FBI's payroll. Also, MLK spoke out against the Vietnam war many times which is why the government may have had him killed. This discussion really opened my eyes and made me realize that the government and the system that it is built on is the real enemy to equality and civil rights.

Charleston, South Carolina

Our first stop on the trip was to Charleston, South Carolina where we first toured the McCleod Plantation. Exploring the plantation was a very informative experience for me. I enjoyed walking around the plantation learning about where the slaves were housed and about the history that took place on this plantation during the Civil War.  It was interesting to learn that people still lived in the slave cabins lined along the old driveway until 1990 to work as sharecroppers and house servants until the grandson of William McCleod, the plantation owner in the mid-1800s, died. I am glad that the tour guide took us on a journey through history by explaining the events surrounding the plantation owners' house from about 1861 to 1990. I really learned a lot about what newly freedmen did between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Civil Rights era.

Later that Saturday, we visited the Old Slave Mart Museum and learned more about the slave trade in eastern North America. Many of the slaves who came to the coast of Charleston ended up being sold at the various slave marts including the museum and the areas surrounding it. Many families were changed forever by being torn apart from one another while having to endure the horrendous conditions of slavery. Being in a place where events like this actually took place was very heartbreaking for me. I could never imagine being in their shoes and having to endure all that the slaves endured in that time period.

On Sunday morning, we attended service at Mother Emmanuel AME Church. I loved being a part of this service because it had been a while since I went to an African-American church as large as this one. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and we were even acknowledged as visitors by the pastor. Although the tragic shooting occurred here in 2015 where Dylan Roof murdered many churchgoers during Bible Study, many people in the community are still able to call this place their home.



Yesterday we had the opportunity to attend church service while in South Carolina. More importantly we attended service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, if you remember then that was the same church in which nine people were killed in during 2015. They never once mentioned the situation however you can tell that it still effects them. For example, if you had a large book bag then they wanted to search it. Furthermore, it was a police officer in the very back of the service just standing in the corner.

Despite the horrible event it was still very encouraging to still see members attend service. I feel that it was a testament of their dedication to the church and to god. Personally I feel that if I went through something so horrible that I would be scared to revisit.

On a more positive note, service was amazing. I feel that it was an ideal “African American” Christian service. They did a lot of praise through music which is a large part of our culture. Furthermore, compared to churches that I have visited in Chicago I feel that this church was more connected. It was not just the pastor preaching but he had others involved doing various things throughout service such as a young lady reading a prayer and the young men lighting and extinguishing the candles at the beginning and end of service. Overall it was a great experience.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Post from Lawrie Zhang

So far this trip has been very eye opening. When we went to the McLeod Plantation, I learned many things, but one interesting fact I learned was the psychological aspect of managing the plantations. The slave owners would bring in pastors to preach about obedience, twisting their messages so that they would make the slaves believe that it was their duty and purpose to serve their masters. Being a psychology major, I thought that this was very interesting, because I never thought much about the psychological aspects of slavery. 

At the Old Slave Mart Museum, I learned that the history of slavery was further back than I realized. I also learned about the huge sugar industry in the Caribbean, which was something I was unaware of. In our discussions back at the hotel, we discussed about how in history textbooks, we don’t really learn the whole history of slavery, and often only the civil rights movement is discussed extensively. Periods of time get skipped over, especially the Reconstruction period. This made me even more thankful that I was able to come on this trip to learn. 

When we went to Mother Emmanuel AME Church, I was in awe of how beautiful the church was. I enjoyed service, and the music really moved me. I could feel that the community was really tight-knit and full of energy. 

So far, I’ve learned a lot on this trip, and I look forward to what’s to come!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday 3/17

Today started off rough because of the long bus ride to get to Charleston. I was not expecting that ;however, after visiting the McLeod Plantation and the Trade Museum it was worth the struggle. The McLeod plantation was interesting because it had the original slave houses still presents. It was shocking to see that the slave houses were small or smaller then what I have read about in textbooks. Also, the plantation had African Americans leaving in the slave house until 1990. I would have thought that we would have been more advanced and upgraded considering that the 1990s was more modern then the slavery period.

Furthermore, the trade museum made me question whether or not the government was making policies in favor of the slave traders because they made rules and policies that were easy to go around. For example, it said you couldn’t purchase African slaves but you could purchase other slaves. Then you could no longer trade in public which basically was saying to tr traders that “you could trade but just do it privately.”

Bus Ride

I am looking forward to learn about the deep history of South Carolina. The bus ride was long, but  very fun. My favorite movie was Coach Carter. The weather is great.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2018 Itinerary

Friday March 16:
Noon: Leave Campus
3am: Arrive in Charleston, SC
Stay at the Charleston Crowne Plaza, 4831 Tanger Outlet Blvd, Charleston, SC

Saturday March 17:
1:30pm: McCleod Plantation
3:30pm: Old Slave Mart Museum
5:30pm: Dinner in downtown Charleston
8pm: Discussion at the hotel
Stay at the Charleston Crowne Plaza, 4831 Tanger Outlet Blvd, Charleston, SC

Sunday March 18
9am: Church at Mother Emmanuel AME Church
After church: lunch in downtown Charleston
1pm: leave for Atlanta (dinner on the road)
7pm: Arrive in Atlanta/Discussion at the hotel
Stay at the Hampton Inn 1737 Mountain Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA

Monday March 19
10am: Center for Civil and Human Rights
11am: Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Freedom Rider, founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
noon: Lunch at the CNN Center
2pm: King Center (MLK Birth home, Ebeneezer Baptist, grave of Martin Luther King jr and Coretta Scott King)
4pm: Speaker
5:30pm: Dinner together at an Atlanta Restaurant
8pm: Discussion at the hotel
Stay at the Hampton Inn 1737 Mountain Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA

Tuesday March 20
8am: leave for Montgomery
10am: Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center
noon: lunch at the RCA Tower Cafeteria
2pm: Equal Justice Initiative
4pm: Rosa Parks Museum
6pm: Dinner at Shoppes at East Chase
8pm: Discussion at the hotel
Stay at Country Inn and Suites 10095 Chantilly Pkwy, Montgomery, Alabama

Wednesday March 21
10am: Dexter Avenue Parsonage
noon: on the road to Selma (lunch on the road)
2pm: Footprints to Freedom tour at the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma
5pm: On the road for Jackson (dinner on the road)
11pm: arrive in Jackson at 11pm
Stay at the Holiday Inn Express at 6485 Frontage Rd, Ridgeland MS

Thursday March 22
9am: Medgar Evers House
10:30am: Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
noon: lunch (at the Museum)
2pm: Mississippi History Musuem
3:15pm: Speaker
4:30pm: On the road for Little Rock (dinner on the road)
Stay at the Country Inn and Suites, Bryant Arkansas

Friday March 23
9am: Little Rock Central High School Tour
noon: Lunch in downtown Little Rock
2pm: Mosaic Templars Museum
3:30pm: Capitol Building for photo with Little Rock Nine statue
4pm: Leave for Memphis
6pm: dinner on Beale Street
8pm: Discussion at the hotel
Stay at the La Quinta 2979 Milbranch Rd, Memphis, Tennessee

Saturday March 24
9am: National Civil Rights Museum
noon: lunch
2pm: Slave Haven Museum
3:30pm: Stax Museum
5pm: Ernest Withers Museum
6pm: Dinner together (TBA)
8pm: Discussion at the hotel
Stay at the La Quinta 2979 Milbranch Rd, Memphis, Tennessee

Sunday March 25
6am: leave for campus
noon: arrive on campus

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Post from Jonathan Jones

I think what stood out to me the most during the day in Montgomery is the last speaker we had that was on death row. It was a very personal account and every detail he gave really touched me and I in some sense felt his pain. I feel like hearing his story in person sparked something in me that makes me want to do something big to help with our fight that is still going on.

Post from Djordje Takov

Today was an amazing day. Just the fact that we got a chance to visit MLK's house made me excited for today, however I never expected this event was going to be so impactful on me. Dr. Shirley made the experience borderline life changing. I enjoyed her amazing personality and charisma from the moment we stepped through the door and as the tour went along she became increasingly amazing. I enjoyed her connections of Dr. King's life to our lives and the representation of his life as simple and similar to everyone else's life. Her quotes from numerous books including MLK's that were closely connected to all important events following civil rights movements made me internally reflect on all the things that we have seen so far. I also enjoyed the personal connection that I felt during the tour, and her caring and involved approach. I got a chance to take a photo with her and shake her hand which I see as an amazing privilege. I hope that sometime during my college career I get to have a professor like her. A professor like her would enable me to advance myself both professionally and personally but beside those I would enjoy their presence and learn much more that I would from a typical college professor.

Post from Cherese Waight

The thing that impacted me the most today was the Equal Justice Initiative. Anthony's story was so powerful, yet heartbreaking. I have heard many stories of people being wrongfully convicted, but I have never heard the story personally from the victim. Anthony Hintin was lucky to have the Equal Justice Initiative and Brian Stevenson to help the system fix the mistake that they would never admit to. I was brought to tears because he story was like so many others, but he was able to be free and this is why we need prison reform and eliminate the death penalty.

As a young activist it inspires me to keep working because we can bring change if we keep fighting.

Post from Deonte Harris

Dr. Cherry was the most impactful individual I saw today because of the knowledge she gave us. Being able to meet someone with so much wisdom and hearing their stories is so interesting. Be able to be in the house that Dr. Martin Luther king once lived allowed me appreciate the problems he faced. It was truly a beautiful experience and something I would come back to Alabama and experience again.

Post from Ji Whan Yoon

It was interesting how Rosa Park acted bravely while she knew she would be in trouble. Also, professor and students in Alabama State University spread boycott advertisements quickly. I believe the event was occurred because people believed the equality is the most important thing on law, and the desire for equality led civil rights movement.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Memphis, TN

Memphis was great. It was the funnest of all of the places. We had a lot of free time on Beale Street which was great. The food was amazing and the ambiance kind of reminded me of a small festival in Chicago.
Going to the Lorraine Motel gave me a lot of insight of how a man could be the kindest, most peaceful, and non-violent ever and still fall victim to a hate crime. I think Martin Luther King Jr.'s death was one that was the most unexplainable. What drives a man to kill someone who is not hurting anyone? I will always wonder that; and I'll alway wonder about Jesse Jackson's role in the whole thing. But, that's another story.
The Stax Museum was also very nice. I hate that the assassination of MLK caused the fall of Stax as a record label. They had such a historic and iconic run while it lasted. I also appreciated the music that was played--I knew most of it. It was fun.

Selma, AL

In Selma, I think is when I learned the most. I learned a lot everywhere else. But this information was all new to me. So I appreciate that learning opportunity. And, I also appreciate the fact that I was able to meet one of the Foot Soldiers that marched in Selma, Sam Walker. To learn that he was only a teen at the time was also great to find out because he made the Civil Rights Freedom Wall. The simulation of the Africans before becoming slaves was also a learning experience. But the thing that hit me the most was a piece that said "K. K. K. Kids Killing Kids;" it related the past to a problem we still have as a nation and as black people. I can say it was the most hands on experience the entire trip, especially going over the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Final Days

After watching Redtails on the bus before going to the Tuskegee Airmen Historic site gave me useful background information and a sense of what to expect at the museum. The guest speaker that we had at the Tuskegee Center, Benjamin Newhouse was great. You could tell from the way he speaks that he truly believes in setting goals for yourself and going through different avenues to ensure that you receive the necessary tools to make those goals a reality. He highlighted the importance of education and pointed out all of the great activist and leaders that came out of Tuskegee. I have always been a fan of Booker T Washington and his belief of educating the man to make a change so going through his house was amazing. Hearing Ms. Cherry speak was also a highlight of the trip. She did a great job conveying the life and beliefs of MLK. Going to the EJI was also one of my favorite parts. It just reminded me that despite the barriers and obstacles that we as a people have overcome there is still work to be done. Listening to the story of Ray Hinton was emotional and inspiring. It is sad fact that knew he need a white southern ballistic expert to prove his case. Even after having the proper evidence proving that he was innocent judges still refused to see him due to his color and class. Despite it all he was able to forgive those who wronged him. The work that the EJI is doing is inspiring on all levels. Finally the simulation we did at the end understanding the difficulties of the middle passage was surreal. Seeing and experiencing how they were treated made me angry and upset. These were people who came from lines of Kings and Queens, the first engineers and accomplished great things were also being degraded to a level where the coudn't even preserve their names. Still they made a life for themselves in a foreign land and for that they deserve all the respect. I enjoyed this entire trip and am grateful to learn more about the history and culture of African Americans. It was an eye opener and I got to see more than just the surface level things we talk about in school.

North Carolina and Atlanta

Today we went to the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. This was one of my favorite museums to visit. Our tour guide was very passionate and enthusiastic about his work that it made learning about the information easier and more interesting. I was surprise to learn about the Greensboro four. In my past history classes we never discussed in depth the rise of sit ins and it was just shocking to learn that that because four college freshman had the courage to take a peaceful stand they sparked an entire movement. My favorite parts of museums like this one was getting to learn new names of people who made such a huge impact in the civil rights movement but you never really learn about in school, like Jay Kenneth Lee. Prior to this trip I have never heard of that name. He accomplished a lot in his life like being the first African American to attend North Carolina University and winning over 1000 cases. In Atlanta we went to the King Center and National Center for Human and Civil Rights Museum. I think when talking about MLK its easy to only see one side of him and what he fought for. Some people forget that he was an activist for women's rights, against the Vietnam war, and launched the poor people's campaign for people of all colors who lived in poverty. The King Center did a great job highlighting the different facets of his character. I wish that it was a bit more interactive though. At the National Center the biggest thing that I remember is doing the simulation for the sit ins where you put on the headphones and listen to the reenactment. Whenever I think about those kind of situations I also wonder if I could just sit there peacefully while people yelled vulgar insults, kicked my chair, and spat at me. It takes a lot of bravery. One comment about the speaker Dr. Bernard LaFayette is that I felt he talked about a lot of things but didn't really specify about his experience being a freedom rider. I learned more about him and his struggles in the museums than actually hearing him. If he could tailor his points a little more that would be great.


Post from Claudia Roberts

Day 1: 3/18/2017

On this day I really enjoyed the capitol tour one of the most interesting parts of this say was the realization that even the capitol was built off of slave labor it made me give so much more respect and gratitude to my ancestors. It also made me look at this work and apply it to the country as a whole knowing the work that slaves are responsible for and have a greater appreciation for it. Having the opportunity to view the MLK memorial for the first time was a great it was so beautiful. The quotes surrounding the memorial were extremely inspirational.

Claudia Roberts

Day 2: 3/19/2017

On this day we visited the Frederick Douglass home. This was a surreal experience because I have read countless books on Douglass and his life story. The home and the museum were so informational being in his home gave me feelings of warmth and welcomeness. The second thing that we did on this day was visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. I was so excited for this and it was one of the most eye opening experiences that I have had in my whole life. Starting at the bottom of the last floor exhibit I immediately began to tear up. Although, I knew the horrors of the middle passage and what slaves went through actually seeing this in depth in the museum broke my heart. To be torn away from your family and loved ones as well as your culture and exposed to such horrendous conditions is disgusting. I was so overwhelmed with emotions. As we moved up in the museum the lights went from dark to dim we were now in the era of slavery. The emotions hit even harder for me on this stage. On the next level the abolishment of slavery was present and then on to segregation and civil rights. For me, the civil rights era was the most eye opening because it was a time in which my parents and grandparents were alive and endured. This museum showed me how far African AMericans have came and how much farther we have to go. It is ultimately my job to carry the torch my ancestors lit for us. This was my favorite day so far. Although I couldn’t explore the whole museum what I saw was amazing and I would love to go back in the future.

Claudia Roberts
Day 3: 3/20/2017

I enjoyed visiting the international civil rights museum. When I realized that the museum was built around the Greensboro four sit in counter I was immediately intrigued. It was always something about sit ins that had intrigued me and seeing this made me very emotional.

Claudia Roberts

Day 4: 3/21/2017
This morning we got to visit the Martin Luther King Center. The whole morning was a beautiful experience for me. Visiting the Ebenezer baptist church where MLK once preached at was amazing. We also stopped by a nearby firehouse which we saw pictures of rooms inside of Martin Luther King's house I found this very interesting. I spent my Free time at the Coca-Cola factory which I enjoyed a ton. I got to experience what It would be like to actually be in a sit in and I cried during this time. Towards the end of the day we meet with Dr. Lafayette this was so amazing. Having the opportunity to ask him questions and speak to him on his experience during the civil rights is something that I will never take for granted. He is so informed and knowledge and has done so much in the fight for equality. Having the opportunity to be in his presence was truly a gift and something I will never forget.

Day 5: 3/22/2017

Today was my first time being on an HBCU campus. I loved the vibe and environment and being in a place with so much history dedicated to the progression of african American scholars is something I will never forget.

Day 6: 3/23/2017
---I was sick and stayed in bed this day :(

Day 7: 3/24/2017
The footprints to freedom tour was one of my favorites so far. It really made me cry because it put me in the mindset of how it would feel to be a slave. Being treated in the way a slave would and stripped of identity made me think on a lot of things. One of the most impactful moments for this was the way in which the N word was used to hurt and purposely tear down slaves which made me think about its use to day and how people oftentimes don’t see it sprouting from this. The man who gave the tour was very passionate which helped contribute to my experience. The museum connected past and present and was a true gem on our trip.

Day 8: 3/25/2017

The time is going by so fast! I cannot believe that this is our last journey and my last blog. As our trip comes to an end today was one of my favorite days. On our museum trip this morning we got to go to the exact site Dr.King was assassinated. Once again I was overwhelmed with emotions because It made me wonder what the impact of additional work Dr. King could have done if it was never to happen and what part I play in continuing his everlasting legacy. The museum we visited today also shows that the fight for equality for everyone is far from finished and it is up to our youth to continue it. Following this we visited the amazing Stax records and Beale street. We also had time to look at photographs in the Ernest Withers museum which were absolutely stunning and breathtaking photos.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Montgomery, Alabama: Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement

Thursday March 23 Montgomery, Alabama

The first place we visited today was the Rosa Parks Museum. The Rosa Parks Museum was very interesting because it highlighted and explained the entire Montgomery Bus Boycott not just the Rosa Parks movement that started it. At the museum, I learned about how African Americans organized the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and used volunteers to drive African Americans who refused to ride the busses in Montgomery. After leaving the Rosa Parks Museum we had a tour of the Alabama state Capitol. The Capitol building was extremely beautiful, but I did not enjoy our tour. I don't think that our tour guide understood the history of the capitol of Alabama and I believe that she purposely tried to sugar coat or gloss over the state's terrible history with racism and slavery. We also visited 309 S. Jackson St the home where MLK lived while living in Montgomery. His home is now known as the Dexter Parsonage Museum. Here we had a fantastic tour (The best yet) by a brilliant older woman named Dr. Cherry. She breathed life into her tour of Dr. King's house and it will undoubtedly become one of my most memorable and cherished moments of the trip. We ended our day by visiting the Southern Poverty Law and the Equal Justice Initiative. At the Equal Justice Initiative, we heard from Anthony Ray Hinton an Alabama man who was falsely convicted of killing two fast food managers and sentenced to death. Hinton spent 30 years in prison on death row before finally being cleared of all charges. During his 30 years in prison Hinton lost his mother and fell behind society technologically. Hinton spoke about the tremendous role that race and economic status played in his conviction, and how the state of Alabama routinely discriminates against people of color in criminal proceedings. This discussion brought me to tears and was one of the saddest discussions I've ever sat in. Although it was very sad to hear about such systemic racism and injustice, listening to Hinton's story strengthened my resolve to become an attorney and stand up for individuals who are not always able to stand up for themselves. Today was a long and rough day emotionally and mentally but I am learning a great deal about race relations in the United States and I am grateful for this opportunity.

Post from Diamond Thomas

Today was very inspiring and uplifting for me. The speakers Dr.Shirley Cherry and Mr.Anthony were amongst the most influential. Their speeches has empowered me to want to do more to help African Americans and others races to strive to their fullest potential. I had never heard of the Dexter church or EJI before today so I was very excited to learn about them both and would love to learn more about them. 

Post from Jalen Young

Today was a great day. I really enjoyed going to Martin Luther King Jr.'s house 309 S. Jackson St. and it was mostly due to the very enthusiastic tour guide. I also enjoyed the other exhibits that provided some great information. I think that the last part of our day was the best with EJL because it was a great presentation of the struggles black people go through today. I really enjoyed that testimony by Anthony Ray Hinton. I believe it really has motivated me to go to law school the more. 

Post from Michelle Gil

Today I felt various of emotions. I first felt annoyed by the first tour lady because she didn't mentioned too much about African American history. When asked who built the building, she said "I don't know. Contractors possibly." Maybe she really didn't know but slavery existed when the State Capitol was established. She theb briefly mentioned MLK and Rosa Parks like if it was not a powerful movement that took action by brave people. This evidently shows the improvement (some) white southern people need. 

However, after the first one, I definitely appreciated the second trip. Dr. Cherry, a powerful African American that takes pride of the civil right movement, is an incredible one. She reminded us that even though bad people do bad things we need to forgive and like MLK, fight bad with love. She proceed to encourage us telling us that we can make a difference and not let anyone define our character. It's hard to describe the feeling...but it was inspiring. 

And lastly Anthony made me feel anger towards injustice. Spending 30 years for a crime he didn't commit because he's black is tragic! He was originally sentenced to death until he got an attorney. First of all, why is a death penalty still an option?! An eye for an eye doesn't make things right....anyway, the amount of people that are falsely accused is ridiculous and shows racism and need more people to fight for those who are voiceless. 


Post from Jameelah McCregg

Blog posts:

3/18: Our first day in D.C. was partly spent on the Capitol Building tour. Previous to the tour, I was doubting if they would present American history accurately-- that is, inclusive of the attributions of African Americans. To my surprise, African Americans were mentioned in a video, so that was surprisingly satisfying. The tour guide also discussed the contributions of enslaved peoples to the history of America and even the building of the Capitol. I still maintain that Black history is watered down and eradicated from much of history, but I wasn’t expecting for us to be mentioned at all at a government building. After this, we visited the MLK memorial. I loved the area because I’m a huge fan of his quotes, so to see them lifesize enscripted on a long wall was very touching. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for discussion where I got to meet and speak with fellow students I hadn’t met previous to this trip.

Overall, the first full day of this pilgrimage was enlightening and fun. I look forward to the rest of the trip! Xo- Jameelah

3/19: Today was finally the day I got to visit the museum I have been dreaming about for the longest! The Smithsonian. However, before that, we visited Frederick Douglass’ home. I didn’t have much background knowledge on him, so to leave his home learning that he had been enslaved, turned abolitionist and civil and women’s right activist. I also thought it was really interesting that he had political power and his home was representative of that: Overlooking the “city” of DC. It was fun to see how people lived in the 1800s.

Now on to Smithsonian. I was super excited to visit this place. Honestly, it’s so much information and exhibits there, that I didn’t have enough time to truly soak all of the information. But of the many things there, my favorites would include the Emmett Till exhibit. I did a history project on him in 5th grade and now I’m a freshman in college, so each year I feel like I learn something new about him and his impact and gain a fresher perspective. I also enjoyed the women’s section because it’s important to highlight and honor the women who did daily groundwork in the Civil Rights Movement. Although everything was amazing, I loved the cultural aspects of the museum as well. Like the focus on Black music, Black athletes and Black fashion.

To end, this day was filled with a lot of information, emotions and sensory overload (in a good way). This was such an amazing day.

3/20: The International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro was very educating! I did not know much about the Greensboro 4, like how their act to desegregate lunch counters catapulted the movement down South or like how they planned the whole thing in their college dorm. I’m feeling motivated! Xo. PS. I think I collect hats now >.<

3/21: We were in Atlanta and visited the MLK center! I was very excited for this because it was actually my 2nd time visiting since 2014. I thought it we be great to be there again because I felt that I would have a different experience since I was more interested in the topic, older and more knowledgeable. And guess what? I was right! I even saw a part of the MLK center that I hadn’t seen previously. I learned more about Dr. King’s death and funeral, like how he was carried in a wooden wagon to represent the work he had done within the poor people’s movement. I also learned more about Coretta Scott King, who was an activist and leader in her own right, even after the death of her husband. This shows her strength. Like 4 days after the assassination of Dr. King she lead the worker’s March in Montgomery. This just reiterated to me the resilience of women. Go ladies!! Wooooo! xo.

3/22: Today we were in Tuskegee, where we learned more about the Tuskegee Airmen. I liked learning more about the civilians and non-pilots who were just as influential to the wars as the pilots were. I loved visiting Tuskegee University because it’s such a historical site with a rich history, like Booker T. Washington being the first principal of the school. Looking forward to tomorrow! xo.

3/23: The most impactful moment during today’s adventure was the conversation we had with Dr. Cherry at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. She was very charismatic, energetic and wise. From the time she began speaking during her introduction until the end of her tour, everything said mesmerized me. The entire time I was holding back my tears because I was internalizing every word said. A few of the things that stood out to me were her telling us to take full advantage of our education for upward social mobility, and her telling us to keep characteristics like love and character in our minds. I loved her advice about having standards when it comes down to picking a spouse. She said that we need to have someone who will take a stance for something. That’s really important to me because my interests include things that I feel I need to take a more radical stance on. I loved that she gave us the definition of love via Howard Thurman. You know love when you can be vulnerable around someone, but secure in your trust that they’ll protect your back.
All in all, these were just a few of the things that touched me, but I enjoyed every bit of it! Xo- Jameelah M.

Post from Ashley Mitchell

Hearing news on tv is impactful to an extent, but being able to be in the presence of a victim of the injustice that we hear about on the news was crazy. Listening the story of Anthony Hinton who was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted, and then having him walk in the room and tell us in person his experience truly broke my heart. It's hard to put into words all the emotions I felt, especially when I found out how little the cops cared about whether he was guilty or not.

I was able to get a greater understanding of the issues that so many of black people fall victim to. Hearing a man who literally lost half his life for something he didn't do, again, broke my heart, and I was filled with anger; but that anger inspired me. I was inspired to think about ways in which I can use my education to help. I was inspired to not tolerate an injustice when I see one, and there are so many in our society today. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to hear Anthony's story, which I wouldn't have been able to do had I not come on this trip. 

- Ashley Mitchell

Post from Ciera Phillips

So far, the most impactful part of the trip to me was visiting the African American museum in D.C, listening to Dr. Benjamin Newhouse, and listening to Dr. Cherry give a tour of Dr. King Jr.'s home. All of these moments have given me advice, understanding, and confidence in my future endeavors when educating. I've learn so much in the museum and it gave me a sense of pride in my culture, making me eager to tell my future students and mentees! I asked Dr. Newhouse for advice in getting my students, who are mostly African Americans, more engage in their culture, and he enlightened me dearly. He told me to start at the beginning and ask them what they want to be and whatever they want to be start with knowing their history. Dr. Cherry was filled with character and I loved her! She gave us all hope and laughs. She made me feel strong and like I can make an extraordinary impact, today, even though I feel so ordinary. 


Ciera Phillips 

Post from Kendall Brooks

So today I figured out what type of lawyer I want to be. I was between business and defense but today opened my eyes to the need of good defense lawyers because to many innocent men are getting put in jail because they have   Incompetent  lawyer defending them and the don't have money to hire these lawyers so I would donate me time and service for the community.

Montgomery, AL

Today was a jam packed day. But, it was pretty cool. I really like the speaker at the Dexter Parsonage Museum, Dr. Shirley Cherry. I could tell that she really likes what she does because the whole presentation and tour just flowed great. It didn’t feel scripted, and she was trying to get to know us. The presentation was also very touching. This was probably because she was so friendly and comforting, everything was sincere; so it was extremely emotional. I know toward the end some people cried, along with myself, when she said "There are going to be things in your life that break your heart; but, let it break your heart. Just don't let it break your spirit.” I was directed more toward Andre, but it seems like everyone in the room felt it. And, I honestly wasn’t ashamed. I was really moved by Ms. Cherry. I also like how January pointed out the ‘The Epiphany’ piece at the Rosa Parks Museum before going to the Parsonage Museum. I love to see how everything everywhere we go connects and is not all over that place. Because, when Ms. Cherry mentioned it and explained in further detail about MLK’s epiphany I felt like I had something to go off of. 

The Capitol Tour was a bit too much for me to handle though. Because, the tour guide had a bad choice of vocabulary. Other people felt that she was dancing around answers but I honestly feel that she was clearly ill-prepared to present to people that are somewhat educated as opposed to small children. Like once she said the slaves migrated. Then, when they asked who built the original capitol building, she said she didn’t know. But, I feel that that’s clear. But, the tour was still a bit educational in the aspect of what happens there and other historical backgrounds. 

Post from Chris Ackerman

Today was a day of stark contrasts. The largest of them between the tour guide at the state capitol and Dr. Sherri Cherry at Dr. King's home. 

The tour guide came across as uninterested, dispassionate, and dismissive of actual history. Throughout the tour, it was evident that the tour guide was hesitant or reluctant to mention slaves or go in depth about the civil rights movement. Slaves were referred to as immigrants, which assumes that they moved to America voluntarily for their own good. When discussing the marketplace in the capitol, the tour guide said fruits and vegetables and other goods were sold here and finally admitted to selling slaves in the market when questioned. Overall, I questioned how the civil rights movement and history in general is framed in certain regions of the country. 

Not long later, we had the privilege to hear the wise words of Dr. Sherri Cherry. She easily takes the prize for the most inspirational speaker of the trip (so far at least). Her passion for the topic discussed was evident in the way she spoke. I found it amazing that she got a PhD and taught many white students and now lived in her dream home in Rhode Island. Time after time, she filled our minds with inspirational quotes. She told us that the only way that people could step on our backs was if we bent over and allowed it. She told us that if we ever saw a good fight, we should get into it. She told us that love should be defined as feeling completely comfortable with complete vulnerability with another individual. She told us many of us might not have experienced love the way Dr. King did - when he received death threats, he would never talk back, rather he would pray for them. In the end, I came out believing that I should be aggressive in my approach to my passions without regrets but always with love. 

Today was the most moving day, whether it was because of a tour guides' apparent ignorance or because of the passion, love, and character of Dr. Cherry. 

-Chris Ackerman

Post from Terrell Shaw

I think the thing that impacted me the most today was a tie between visiting the Parsonage & getting to hear from Anthony Hinton at the Equal Justice Initiative.

I guess I'll start off by saying the home of Dr. King was a beautiful place & there is no better person on this earth that I would prefer to give a tour of it than Dr. Cherry. She was truly welcoming with open arms and she made us feel as though she lived in that house herself all of these years. Her description of things painted a real picture in my head.

Then I said that I loved Anthony's speech because it seemed well practiced and sincere. I literally shed tears because it made me think about how I would feel if it wrrr me or someone that I loved in that situation.


Post from Mariah Mack

Mr. Anthony Hinton's story touched me the most because my entire life I have listened to stories about people being sent to prison and death row that was innocent. His story meant so much to because it was a feeling I felt in my heart as he talked that made me feel so much compassion for him. He told us of how the officers said they didn't even care if he really shot the person or not, and that he would be he one paying for the crime of "one of his homeboys". I thought it was so important how the people analyzing the bullets and other pieces of evidence basically admitted thirty years later that the bullets from his mother's gun and the gun that killed the man did not even match. This really made me think of the potential impact I can make in the community because I plan on becoming a forensic chemist which is one the people who analyzes the items from crime scenes. It made me realize that I can really make a difference in the court system one day. 


Mariah Mack

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign || College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Chemistry || Class of 2020

Post from Austin McWilliams

Today was easily my favorite day of the trip so far!  Dr. Shirley was such a character, and she was incredibly inspiring.  Her outlook on life and the future gave me hope, and her message of radical inclusivity would make anyone feel welcome.  I loved how she persevered through her time and encouraged the people in our group to persevere through theirs.  Despite all the racism she's faced throughout her life, she insisted on never giving up and never letting the bigots get to her.

She had a tag line for every situation, and her advice was sage.  She was also obviously very well educated, and she could quote just about any intellect word for word! Then when she started speaking directly to Andre in the kitchen, I really started to tear up.  She moved me with her energy and her message like no one else on this trip has.

Montgomery - Shontierra

The thing that impacted me most today was hearing the story of Dr. Shirley Cherry. I felt as though Dr. Cherry reminded me of my grandmother and she inspired me to be the greatest I can be. Dr. Cherry reminded me of the potential and greatness that I behold. She reminded me how far we as black people have come and how far we still have to go. I found her life story to be touching and a testimony to Gods greatness.

Natalie Stratemeyer's post

Our group saw many museums and had many opportunities to learn about the history of civil rights. However, a common theme that is brought up in our discussions and lectures is how can our generation carry on this legacy? Many lecturers and professors offer their thoughts, but I loved how the Equal Justice Initiative is demonstrating what it looks like to fight for equal rights today. We had the opportunity to hear a testimony of a man who received justice after 30 years of solitary confinement from an unjust system. EJI was committed to giving a fair trial where he was freed after being found not guilty. EJI has recognized an issue and is working to have justice.  I was inspired by the dedication to give legal justice to adults and children. To be able to use their occupation to positively impact the community and people's lives, showed me that we can use our skills and education to make things right. This was really inspirational for me to see the many opportunities to create equality and justice. 

There were 2 things that impacted me the most. I thought we were going to have a lecture with EJI but instead there was an interactive discussion. After the Nightline video on ABC, Anthony Rau came to testify his story on his death row sentence for 30 years on a crime he didn't commit. I was moved my his emotions, his distributive emotions and physical actions during his incarceration, and his after life of being a free man.  Another moving experience was MLK's home the tour guide was every great at telling stories about him. I felt like I was really there. I wanted to stay longer. I loved being in the presents of where Dr. King used to live.

Montgomery, AL

During today’s adventures, the thing that impacted me the most was the Equal Justice Initiative. Not only was the speaker and his story emotionally drawing but the center itself was intriguing. Just reading about the story of children being tried as adults in the American Court System was draining. As a female and a mother figure, I could not imagine someone wrongfully convicting my child and/or executing them. I let out emotions today that I had never felt before and ones that I did not know I could feel. In our country is it so common to see young black children called adults in the media and it saddening. Children are children and that needs to be understood. 

Post from Miciah Wilkerson

Today, I had the opportunity only a few men can say they did. I unlocked and opened the door of Dr.King house in Alabama. After I opened the door, I felt some type of power even though that might sounds silly. I want to give thanks to Dr. Cherry for this opportunity. Also I learned so much about the Alabama prison system and the lynching in the state. 

While at the state capitol, I found it very interesting how the tour guide didnt give credits to the slaves that built the capitol. I found it very interesting when I asked the question on who built it, she was very confused then said contractors.

Post from Brein Mosely

There were many things that impacted me today but seeing Anthony testify about his experience was inspiring. I didn't know how bad the segregation is still in the south, things that we aren't notified of. It was very peculiar to see how great the Capitol portrayed themselves verses what actually is going on. Though I don't know what I want to do, I know that I want to make a difference and this experience solidified that change is needed. 

Post from Amber Shields

Today what impacted me the most was when I saw how Anthony was incarcerated for so long and nobody really cared for his well being. What he saw and how he talked about how he was treated was mind blowing. It hurt me deeply because I put myself in his shoes and I imagined how I would handle the situation. He is just such a strong man to still be standing today and hold his head high as he tell his story.


Amber Shields


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Post from Amber Sims

We travelled to many places today but I really enjoyed Shirley Cherry as our tour guide at The Dexter Parsonage Museum. She was really passionate about what she was teaching us and she kept us interested in the conversation. Dr Cherry was a very lively and funny person and I feel like I learned the most from her. I would also like to add EJI as part of the impact of today because the guest speaker was absolutely amazing. It was crazy to actually see, in person, someone who went through the struggle of being an African American and being mistreated and being thrown in jail for 30 years of their life for no reason what so ever. I'm thrilled that he still smiles and has the messages of learning to forgive people for yourself no matter what. Forgiveness is for you, not the other person.


For me, today going to visit the Equal Justice Project was life changing. Getting to hear about their mission and then having Anthony come and tell his story of spending 30 years on death row really reinforced for me that no one deserves to die, and our criminal justice system does get cases wrong. To think that an innocent man had 30 years of his life stolen from him by our government.

Death is so final that I do not think it is ever fair and 30 years without being allowed to do things as simple as feel rain is cruel and unusual punishment, even if the person is guilty, not to mention if we get it wrong.

I will never forget Anthony's story or the work of the EJP.

Tuskegee Alabama: A Place Where Leaders are Born

March 22nd Tuskegee, Alabama

Today we traveled to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center. At these sites, I learned a lot about the Tuskegee Airmen and the struggles they faced to fight for their country. The Tuskegee Airmen flew fighter pilots in WWII. The Tuskegee Airmen were unique in that they faced a two-front battle. On one hand the Tuskegee airmen had to fight the Axis powers and fascism in Europe, and on the other they had to fight the U.S gov’t and racism at home. As a result of their brave actions U.S president Harry Truman signed executive order 9981 in 1948 which desegregated the U.S military. Our group also visited the Oaks and George Washington Carver Museum. After that, our group visited Tuskegee University where we had lunch, explored the campus, and visited Booker T. Washington’s home. I learned a lot of great things about Booker T. Washington such as the fact that he founded Tuskegee University and that he was one of the last people Frederick Douglass visited before his death. Today I learned a lot about the city of Tuskegee and how it helped to develop African American leaders such as Ralph Ellison and Rosa Parks. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuskegee, AL

While in Tuskegee, we went to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. I also liked how interactive that was. We were able to hear some of the monologues from the airmen and their officers, which I thought was really cool. And seeing the planes was also really cool for me. I never understood how they sat in those tiny planes until I saw one in person. They actually had a lot of room. 

Being at Tuskegee University made me appreciate black culture more, especially being in the dining hall with he students. I really enjoyed the tour of Booker T Washington’s house. I love how he accommodated for his last wife that stayed in the home, his children, and the students. It amazing how lavishly they were living in such a bad time for black people. That made me see that as a people we can do and overcome anything s long as we work to it. We was a rich man in a time wee black people barely had anything, so that meant a lot to me. It meant more to me when I learned what we did to get to where he was like walking 53 miles just to get a job to pay for school. I think that’s amazing for a man to be that determined to make a change in his life. 

Atlanta, GA

Being in Atlanta was probably the best part of the pilgrimage thus far. I have always wanted to go to the King Center but never had the chance. This was a chance for me to see Martin and Coretta’s Graves and the Church and his birth home. Even though we didn’t get a chance to see  the inside of his birth home, just being where he was and spent most of his life was an honor. 

I also liked the National Center for Human and Civil Rights. The museum and all of it’s interactions were great because it gives you a chance you actually feel like you were there. It gave us as students a chance to put our feet in the shoes of those that sat at the lunch counters, those that had to walk, and hose that lost their lives doing what they felt was best for the generations to come after them. Getting a chance to meet Dr. Bernard Lafayette was also an honor for me. He was really cool and humbled even with all of his accomplishments. The only thing I didn’t like about the museum is that a lot of the radicals like Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Huey Newton, and others like them weren’t mentioned; and if they were mentioned, it was extremely brief. 

Greensboro, NC

When we went to Greensboro, I expected a museum with a rounded theme to it like the museum in DC because it was called the International Civil Rights Museum. What I got was pushed more toward the lunch counter sit ins. But, I can honestly say that even thought the museum wasn’t what I expected, it was still a great experience to see what happened right there in that place. We learned more in depth details about a part of the history f the civil rights movement that is just mentioned but not really explained so much as the marches and other aspects of the movement. I also appreciate how the 2nd tour guide we had asked us about our  majors and tried to connect that to how we could still make a change in the black community and maybe a black revolution. 

Washington, DC

I enjoyed my time in Washington, DC. It was a great learning experience for me and I’m sure it was for others on the pilgrimage. The Capitol and the monuments were really great to see in person; especially since I’ve never had to opportunity to ever go to DC. I appreciated the Capitol tour, but I felt that the building of America by African/African American slaves was not expressed enough. Nor, was the Native American aspect of America expressed. For example, they had a statue of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, that made him look so depressed and sad, instead of something that made him look more alive and real. Then it was a huge focus on religion, that I feel should not have been there. They also have a mural that shows Pocahontas praising George Washington. The whole tour I just kept seeing disgrace after disgrace. Not to mention the minority children with Trump and “Make America Great Again” Hats on that probably have no idea what’s going on in politics. 

On another note, the National Museum of African America History and Culture was just amazing. I feel like everything was touched on. Not a lot of museum express culture, they only show the history of the black experience and not much of the fun and everyday life. I felt like the museum did just that. Everything was life like, the artifacts were not commonly seen in other museums, and it was big and interactive to accommodate for children and adults alike. It was just an overall great experience, and I’d love to go back to the museum to see everything a bit more in detail. 

Washington D.C. - Day 2

One of the highlights of the trip so far is the National Museum of African American History and Culture we got to see while being in Washington D.C. I went from the top of the museum to the bottom. I feel like the top floor through the main floor offered a lot of depth to subjects and pop culture references. My favorite part of the museum is the bottom level where participants got to go through the history of the Black Experience from dating back to the 1400s. There was so much information and visuals that took up the space in the base level part of this museum. From structures that resembled cabins that enslaved people lived in to the casket that Emmett Till was originally buried in.

 I loved being able to wonder around the museum as I pleased and being attracted to certain cases and videos was really nice because I got depth and knowledge on things I did not hear or learn about. Another thing I enjoyed about the museum is the other people there and watching how the interacted with the art and the information. Going through the museum you see people of all ages and backgrounds interacting with the content. The placement of the museum is interesting too, yesterday we learned about the buildings in the national mall being built by enslaved black people, today we see a building bringing light to the history of the United States.

Update for Montgomery


Tomorrow morning we will meet at the bus at 8:30am.  We are sleeping in Montgomery another night, so you can leave your bags in your room.  This is a really packed day so make sure you get a good night of sleep and you wear comfortable shoes.

Our first stop is at 9am at the Rosa Parks Museum.  In order to make this tour work with our schedule they had to have us do the tour backward from the way they normally do it.  We will tour the exhibits on our own when we first get there and then at 8:30am we will watch a film about the Bus Boycott.  As soon as the movie is over we need to head out to the bus quickly so that we make it to the next stop on time.  If you are buying something in the gift shop, make sure you do it before the movie starts at 8:30.

At 10am we are doing a tour of the Alabama State Capitol.  As you tour the Capitol keep in mind that all of the third graders in Alabama come to do the tour at some point during their year.  What do you think that the third graders learn about their state from touring this building?  We will leave at 10:45 and walk down to our next stop since it is only 2 blocks away.

At 11am we are touring Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  This is the first church that Dr. King presided over and was the only church he was ever the head of.  The bus boycott was planned in the basement of this church. 

At Noon we are having lunch at the RSA Tower. This is a cafeteria for government workers.  There are several different lines once you get inside, so if the line seems long you might want to see if there are actual lines for all of the stations or just one. We will meet at 1pm to walk to the Freedom Rides Museum together.

At 1:15 we are touring the Freedom Rides Museum.  Make sure you are on the lookout for Dr. LaFayette at this museum.  They have his picture up a couple of places. At 2pm we will load the bus to head to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

At 2:30 is our tour of the Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial.  Leave anything you don’t need on the bus.  They make us go through a metal detector before we can enter the memorial, leaving unneeded things on the bus will make things go quicker.  However, people usually like the stuff in their gift shop, so if you are a shopper bring your money.

At 3:30 we are headed to hear a speaker at the Equal Justice Initiative.  The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

At 5:15 we will head to dinner at Eastdale Mall.  We will give you a little time to shop or walk around the mall.  We will load back up on the bus at 7:15pm

At 7:30 we will have discussion at the Holiday Inn Express.

Washington D.C. - Day 1

The first day of the Pilgrimage we went to Washington D.C. to see the Capitol Building to learn about the nation, it's history, and connection to civil rights. I think this was a great place to start because it gave me a sense of what this nation definition of civil rights. This being the start of the trip really questioned the idea of rights and the founding principles this country stand by. Knowing that many of the original buildings and historical sites in Washington D.C., including the Capitol Building, was built by slaves in a system that did not cherish the sentiment "All men are created equal" had a impact on me. Seeing paintings of former presidents who had slaves and portraits of Christopher Columbus on the walls lining the building.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia The Home of Dr. King

Tuesday March. 21st Atlanta Georgia,

Today we visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. Unfortunately, his childhood home, a hallmark of the center, was closed for repairs. Although we could not tour the house, our group went to take pictures in front of the house. It was a beautiful yellow home and a little larger than I expected, but I suppose it makes sense because King’s father was a very prominent pastor. After visiting Dr. King's childhood home, we went to go view the mausoleum of him and his wife Coretta Scott King. The mausoleum was large and beautiful set on a bed of water. The mausoleum also features an eternal flame in honor of Dr. King and his wife Coretta. After visiting the mausoleum, we went to Ebenezer Baptist Church. Once in the sanctuary we could hear the voice of Dr. King giving a sermon. His sermon was about a humble man who was great but never did any of the stereotypical things associated with greatness. This man never visited any large cities and never "traveled more than 200 miles from where he was born." King told the congregation that by the end of the sermon they would know who he was talking about. I believe the man he was talking about was Jesus Christ.

After going to the church, I returned to the King center to check out the exhibits. The exhibits were primarily pictures and videos, but there was one with sculptures of people marching. This exhibit was particularly powerful because the sculptures were so life like. I distinctly remember a sculpture of a white teen marching with his younger sister. He had a very focused look on his face and his sister stared up at him with admiration. During the exhibit I learned a lot about how Gandhi's nonviolent marches in India served to inspire King and other African American leaders to lead the civil rights movement with non-violence. While going through the exhibits I was saddened to learn that Dr. King's mother Alberta King was killed while playing the organ in the Ebenezer church I had just visited. This visit also helped me to better understand the institution of segregation and how it was used to instill a sense of inferiority into African Americans to more easily subject them to the economic will of white individuals. I learned about the Poor People's marched that Dr. King was organizing in 1968 shortly before his death.  Although we could not tour King's childhood home this visit was an amazing experience and invaluable learning experience. While many of the pieces in the exhibits made me sad, they also instilled in me a sense of pride in that I am a part of a race of people which refused to believe the blatant lie spewed by American society that people of color are inferior to whites. They not only refused to accept the societal norms of segregation and degradation, but they put their lives on the line daily to ensure that our country lived up to its creed that "all men are created equal.”

 To end our day, we visited the International Center for Human and Civil Rights where we spoke with Dr. Bernard Lafayette. Dr. Bernard Lafayette is a civil rights activist and organizer who played a vital role in the freedom rides of 1961 and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to organize marches in Selma. Today was a great day and I learned a ton more than I could’ve imagined.

P.S I’ve also had the best food so far on the trip at the soul food restaurant Mary Mac’s Tea Room.

Days 1&2 In Washington

Touring the capital was interesting for many reasons. The entire time I felt that the tour guide was emphasizing how George Washington will forever be immortalized in the building and idolizing him to such a high level that I began losing interest in the subject. In my AP US History class we had to read this book called 1776 that talked about the Revolutionary war. To my surprise Washington was not as great and fearless as history depicts him. By the end of the war he was developing depression and relied heavily on the support of his soldiers like Nathaniel Green. I notice that this happens a lot when talking about American history. We build up these figures so much that we forget that they are actually humans with flaws. Another thing I was not a fan of was the poorly sculpted statute of MLK. Compared to the actual one that we saw later that day it was not as detailed and seemed rush. They entire thing was ironic. A building that is supposed to symbolize liberty and justice was built on the hard labor of slaves, just like the rest of the country. On a more upbeat note I really enjoyed walking around DC looking at the different memorials from Lincoln to MLK and Fredrick Douglas. I learned so much about Douglas that I did not know before. Besides knowing that he was a great abolitionist and speaker I learned that he married his second wife, a white women, as a political statement. Walking into the Smithsonian, seeing all of the black people ranging from different age groups getting to see their culture and history on display like that was truly a beautiful site. Personally after hearing the news of all the negative stuff happening within the black community from police brutality to different disparities that we face its refreshing to go out and be reminded that even in the face of adversity we as a people can still over come that and build something positive from it. Everything was very organized and it was a great start to the trip. I cant wait to see everything that is in store for the rest of the trip.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 2 in Washington D.C.

    I actually enjoyed my time being back in Washington D.C. The first day we didn't do that much much being that we were behind schedule the first day. I had a deep discussion with my group about how buildings such as the White House and other buildings were built by slaves. It's amazing how disrespected and humiliated African-Americans were treated from slavery through today. Tourist from all over visit and are astounded by the buildings. White people have lived in the White House with no Black president until 2008 and Black people weren't even allowed to visit back then. 
     Early this morning, we attended Frederick Douglass's home. He was pretty wealthy later in his life working for the president. I never really heard a lot about him but the basics. I never knew he was in an interracial relationship. He was a spokesman for women's rights and many other issues. He was an amazing man. Being able to attend the National African American Museum was such a blessing. The group was told to start from the top and work my way down. I couldn't help myself but to start at the basement so I can get a full timeline. The set up of the museum was so amazing. They had start of how slave trade was such a success. They had views of plantations, whips, chains, old artifacts of slave ships. It then move towards Jim Crow Laws, Civil Rights movement, the Black Panther, it was so overwhelming. I got really emotional at the Emitt Till memorial. Seeing his mother cry over his casket and his mom allowing the world to see how badly her son was beaten made me reflect on the issues today. Officers killing young people today over situations that don't require anyone to get hurt Mothers of the victims telling the news to be cautious and watch how you communicate with police. Overall, the museum has been the highlight of my trip. My favorite part was the top floor. I call it Black Excellence being that everything was about the accomplishments of Black people in Music, Art, and entertainment. So many old clothing from well known artists, music playing, movies, tv shows, you name it. This experience made me realize how far we've come and we all can continue to flourish in society. We have a voice and if we stick together we CAN make changes!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

From Jalen Young

Reflection : Touring the Capitol Building was a very interesting experience. I enjoyed what I had seen but upset by what I was not able to see.  I desired for the tour to cover more areas of the Capitol Building and even somehow allow us to see an active session of congress. During the tour as he was explaining different things I noticed that he did not give too much information of the Constitution’s inception. Matter of fact, when watching the pre-lecture in the auditorium it did not give too much detail on the Constitution’s creation. Albeit I do not expect a tour guide to know everything about US history and all its details nor a pre-lecture to have included so much information, but I believe it is very important to know because it is the very foundation of our nation. Moreover, I wanted to question our tour guide about the validity of the Constitution. Reason being is that the Constitution was actually an illegal document according to the Articles of Confederation, which was the United States’ first constitution. I wanted to see what he would have to say against it. However, I did not want to put a wrench in our group’s plans seeing that we were on a time schedule and a discussion such as that would take at least 20-30 minutes to get through. I want to be clear on my statement that it is not a conspiracy theory or a stretched interpretation of events. The constitution being an illegal document is easy to perceive when reading the Articles of Confederation. Knowing this and analyzing history of the United States will allow us to realize that when it comes to order in society that the type of government does not matter in bringing about the welfare and happiness of the majority in society. Yes, I understand that there are some types of government that are more helpful to the goal of society’s welfare and happiness, but it is not the deciding factor. It was never about the type of government, but who you know in government. I do not have the space here to express myself fully on the matter, but if one were to just recall many of the hypocritical events that have transpired in the United States they would see this to be true.

From Terrell announcements for Monday

Terrell - Greensboro

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hello everyone,

Sunday at Midnight arrive in Greensboro where we will stay at the Holiday Inn Express.

Our Monday activities will include going to the International Civil Rights Museum. We will arrive there at 9:30am. There will be a guided tour at this museum as we learn the story of the Greensboro Four, and how they were the great leaders of the sit-ins. Last year they showed us a documentary before we went on our tour, so be prepared to watch that as you will need this to help connect your knowledge with what you’ll be seeing during the tour.

At 11:05am we will have Guest Speaker Dr. Tara Green speak with after we tour the museum. Special thanks to Dr. Bailey for reaching out to Dr. Green for us and getting her to be our speaker. Please show gratitude and respect for Dr. Green because she’s giving us her time out of her busy schedule.

Lastly, at 12:05 we will have lunch in Downtown Greensboro. You have the freedom to choose where you want to eat in that area. Food places include: Crafted the Art of the Taco, Koshary, Jimmy Johns, Subway, etc. Be mindful that we do have to be on the bus by 12:55pm in order to leave at 1pm as planned. Where you eat includes walking distance, waiting time to be seated and to get food, and time it takes to eat and get back to the bus.

At 1pm, we will leave Greensboro for Atlanta, GA. We will also stop for dinner while we are on the road. We will arrive in Atlanta at 7pm at the Hampton Inn. To give you guys a little time to get your room situation taken care of, we’ve allotted almost an hour for you to get comfortable. At 7:55 we will have a discussion about the how things are going on the trip so far. After discussion, you guys are free to go to bed, socialize, etc. We know that Atlanta is one of the favorite cities on our itinerary, so we have had people leave the hotel in the past to go to Walmart, Cascade Skating, etc. However, you should remember that this is not the party trip, but you are still allowed to enjoy yourself. We just ask that if you plan on leaving the hotel that you let January or Kim know where you’re going. You are responsible for being back at the hotel, and we will be leaving the hotel at 8am.

Weather - 64* HI, 43* LO - Periods of clouds and sun

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day 1 Washington DC

For me, today was a great day. Our group formed more as our own community traveling together. We visited the US Capitol and had the chance to be at the center of our government.  There were glimpses of the times in our history that we worked a little closer to becoming a "more perfect union." It is obvious we have a long way to go, but traveling with these students gives me hope.

We also were able to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial. It was pretty remarkable to finally have his proper place as one of our country's greatest heroes. 

Overall, I am so thankful to be here with these particular students and to be able to experience all we will over the next week with them.

Washington Day 1 - Shontierra

Today was a pretty long day. The weather was nice and I especially enjoyed my walk during free time  from the White House. Also, I appreciated the discussion we had on lynching in America, the videos we saw on the bus, and the great seafood dinner I had. The Capitol building was surprisingly a lot about George Washington and there were many instances of erasure. Symbols of people of color are rarely present and those that are present aren't that representative of us as a whole. I found the White House to be a very normal place. It wasn't as iconic as I imagined. It was nice to hear my peers thoughts on the day because I found I share a lot of the very same knowledge and we were all able to gain some new information from each other in reference to history and today's adventure.

From Deonte Harris

Washington was very essential and a good way to start off the trip. It provided us with detail on our history and how certain people influence history more. Seeing certain statutes did show how some people will be valued a lot less. Though seeing a giant statute of Martin Luther king Jr. Memorial also gives me appreciation and respect to the man who made his entire existence about getting help for his people. Only one day and im excited to see what's next. 

From Ji Whan Yoon

When I went to capitol, it was interesting how they represented George Washington as almost god of the United States, and it gave fresh me fresh mind how Americans treated President Washington. However, when I had discussion, I realized not only I but also US students thought it was bit weird to represent President Washington as a god.

From Amber Sims

I thought todays trip to DC was pretty amazing and it was great to see the inside of the capital and all. I just wish our tour guide had follow ups on the information he provided and inside was kinda rushed.

My thoughts from our first day in Washington D.C is placed a lot on how much emphasis the capitol puts on George Washington. I know he's the first president and the "founding father" but I didn't expect almost everything in the capitol to be based off of him. Also we discussed how slavery and racism supposedly started and I just find it incredibly disturbing that they treated blacks so terribly with not one bit of remorse, and then had the nerve to try to justify it. It's really disturbing.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Washington DC (Day 1)!


We will arrive in Washington DC at 3 AM on Saturday! After getting an ample amount of rest, we will start our day at 11 AM having lunch at the Springfield Town Center, so please be on the bus no later than 10:40 AM. This is the mall nearest to the hotel and although we are there for about an hour for lunch, feel free to walk around and enjoy the mall. This is a day filled with walking so make sure you get a good meal in and are wearing your comfortable shoes. The weather for today will be around 55 degrees and partly cloudy.

Promptly at 12:30 PM, thus we will need to be on the bus at 12:00 PM sharp. we will begin our Capitol Tour. This is a guided tour, thus we will have a person giving us descriptions and details about the ins and outs of the Capitol Building. Keep in mind that this is our first time we have been given this opportunity, and we would like to keep coming back, so please be attentive and have fun. The Capitol Tour will last roughly about an hour and after we will get back on the bus and make our way towards the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

At the memorial,  we take our first group photo during our trip. From there, about 2 PM, we will have free time till 4 PM. During this time, there is so much that you all have opportunities to do. For example, you can visit other museums along the National Mall, you can visit the Lincoln Memorial, and many more. The National Mall is America’s most visited national park, so there are endless and timeless memories that can be made.

After free time, we will travel to Hard Times Cafe for dinner. The bus ride will be about 15 minutes, so please be on the bus on time! This is an American restaurant, thus they serve everything from burgers to pizza to chicken tenders and much more. Additionally, we will be in there Large Room that hosts pool tables and other games. At around 6:30 PM we will load the bus and head back to the hotel. Since this is our first night on the trip, things will be a bit hectic in regards to getting backs, assigning keys, and just getting settled. Although hectic it is manageable. Once settled in, or at least comfortable, each group will have discussion at 7:30 PM in their assigned location (TBA - depends on the hotel setup). Discussion, since it is the first night, will not be too long, but long enough to get everyone initial reaction to the trip thus far. After discussion, you are free to utilize your time however you would like, just remember you are still representing the University of Illinois.