Sunday, December 6, 2015

This year's trip!

This year, University of Illinois students will pay $325 plus the cost of food for the trip. For University Housing students we will charge your student account. Other students will need to bring a check for the cost at the time of signing up. In order to sign up email January Boten at to set up a meeting. Please include several times you are available to meet during business hours.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Civil Rights Pilgrimage Spring Break 2016 Itinerary

Friday March 18th
Noon: Leave Champaign
Sleep in Greensboro, NC at LaQuinta 1201 Lanada Rd. Greensboro, NC

Stop at a Truck Stop for dinner

Saturday March 19th
Eastern Time Zone
1am Arrive in Greensboro, NC
11am Lunch in Downtown Greensboro
Noon-1:30pm International Civil Rights Museum
2pm-3pm Greensboro Historical Museum
3:30pm-4:30pm North Carolina A&T University Gibbs Hall
4:45-6pm Dinner in Downtown Greensboro
6pm Leave for Charleston, SC
10:30pm Arrive in Charleston, SC
Sleep in Charleston, SC at La Quinta 11 Ashley Pt Dr. Charleston, SC

Sunday March 20th
9am church service at Emanuel AME Church
11:30-1:30 Lunch and Free time in downtown Charleston
2pm leave for Atlanta
Stop at a truck stop for dinner
8pm arrive in Atlanta
8:30pm First group discussion
Sleep in Atlanta at Hampton Inn 1808 Sullivan Rd, College Park, Georgia

Monday March 21
In Atlanta
9am King Center
11:30am-2:30 lunch and free time near CNN Center (people can choose to tour CNN, go to Aquarium, Coke Museum, or just hang out in the Olympic Park)
2:45-5pm National Center for Civil and Human Rights
5:15 Dinner at Paschal's
7pm group discussion
Sleep in Atlanta at Hampton Inn 1808 Sullivan Rd, College Park, Georgia

Tuesday March 22nd
8am leave for Tuskegee
9am Arrive in Tuskegee (Central Time Zone)
9am-11:30 Dr. Bernard LaFayette atWestminster Presbyterian Church
Noon-1:30pm Lunch at the dining hall at Tuskegee University
1:30pm Lecture with campus officials from Tuskegee University
3pm-3:30pm George Washington Carver Museum
4:00pm Meeting with Attorney Fred Gray at the Tuskegee Multicultural Center
5pm leave for Montgomery
Dinner in Montgomery at Montgomery Mall
8pm Discussion
Sleep in Montgomery at Holiday Inn 96 Folmar Pkwy Montgomery, AL

Wednesday March 23
9am-9:45am visit the State Capitol (no tour)
10:00am Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
11:30-12:30pm Lunch RSA Tower Commerce Center Cafe
12:45-1:45 Freedom Rides Museum
2pm-3pm SPLC
3pm Drive to Lowndes Interpretive Center on the way to Selma
5pm Arrive in Selma
Eat Dinner in Selma at Golden Ranch BBQ
8pm Discussion
Sleep in Selma at Hampton Inn

Thursday March 24
Spend morning in Selma
8am-11am Footprints to Freedom tour
11am Leave for Birmingham
noon lunch on the road
2pm-4:30pm Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park and 16th Street Baptist Church
5pm-7pm Dinner in Five Points neighborhood in Birmingham
7:30pm Discussion
Sleep in Birmingham at Holiday Inn 5000 Richard Arrington Blvd Birmingham, AL

Friday March 25
7am Leave for Little Rock
12:30pm arrive in Little Rock
12:30-2pm Lunch in Little Rock at Root Cafe or Boulevard Bread or Loblolly Creamery
2:30-4:30pm Tour of Little Rock Central High School joining the students on the UW-Eau Claire Civil Rights Pilgrimage
4:30pm leave for Memphis
6:30pm dinner in Memphis at Oak Court Mall
8pm Discussion
Sleep in Memphis at Comfort Inn 4225 American Way Memphis, TN

Saturday March 26
9am-noon National Civil Rights Museum
Noon-2:10pm Lunch on Beale St
2:30-3:45 Stax Museum
4pm-5:30pm Ernest Withers Museum
5:30-7pm Dinner on Beale St
7:30pm Discussion
Sleep in Memphis at Comfort Inn 4225 American Way Memphis, TN

Sunday March 27
5:30am leave Memphis for Champaign
Noon Arrive in Champaign

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Hello! My name is Maria Valenzuela. I am also a planner for the next Civil Rights Pilgrimage during spring break. I am currently a Sophomore majoring in History and Latina/o Studies.

I went on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage last semester, and I am very glad I did. I was very hesitant to do it at first but after talking to January I was immediately convinced that the pilgrimage would be a great experience. The week long trip opened my eyes to the complexity of the Civil Rights movement. We are really deprived of so much information about this movement, and I think this trip did an amazing job at filling in information that I did not know. One of the most unforgettable moments of the trip for me was at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. I decided to do a sit-in simulation and the experience felt so real. I felt like people were really screaming at me. It was a very powerful moment. The trip overall was equally as powerful.

     Along with the planning committee, we have been working to create a Civil Rights Pilgrimage that is equally as powerful. This trip does such good at a time where racial issues are still VERY prevalent. For this trip, I am in charge of Atlanta, GA; Selma, AL; and Birmingham AL. I am equally as excited for this trip and hope everyone who is part of it has an amazing, life changing experience as well.  :)

Why the Civil Rights Pilgrimage?

Hello Everyone, My name is Ronald Oliver, and I am one of the trip planners for the upcoming Civil Rights trip (2015/16). I am a Sophomore here at the University, studying Early-childhood Education.

 I attended the Civil Rights Pilgrimage last semester and was able to meet so many amazing people, form new connections, and learn more about the not so talked about aspects of the civil rights era. One of my favorite places we visited was Greensboro, North Carolina. In Greensboro we were given the opportunity to hear the stories of those individuals who were involved in the sit-ins, and see their courageous battle to gain equality.

The planning committee and I have been working strenuously to plan a trip that highlights and forms connections between new information and your own previous knowledge. This year I will be in charge of Greensboro, North Carolina & Little Rock, Arkansas. I am really excited to be a planner this year. This trip will be unforgettable.

                                             Here are a few photos for your enjoyment. :)

Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 Planners Video

The 2015 Trip Planners made this video to share their favorite places we visited! (Thanks for the editing Nick!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ryan Woods' post

Civil Rights Pilgrimage in Review – Ryan Woods


 This trip was a wonderful way to spend my Spring Break, to say the least.  As such, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for something to do during next year’s (and the next, etc.).  The people were wonderful, the sites were great, there was always great information to be mined.  I know I certainly learned a lot.  And I might even say that most of this was from the individuals with whom I traveled.

 The dialogue between fellow travelers – whether on the bus, in a restaurant, at the hotel, etc. – was probably the most important part of the trip for me.  I know I burdened some of my friends with my overly-philosophical and, at times, bizarre way of discussing these issues.  But the conversations themselves were, at least to me, very enlightening.  I hope that I can continue engaging in such dialogue throughout the remainder of my life.

 I would like to encourage those who are so moved to read some of the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the movement.  I know that reading the former’s works – even the small portion that I have read myself – opens one up to a much deeper and more interesting thinker than the history books and museum plaques will show.

Monday, March 30, 2015


I loved this trip. It was an eye opening experience. I was able to learn a lot about the civil rights movement and the people who made it possible for me and many others to have the rights we have today. I've also met amazing people on the trip. People that I may have not crossed paths with otherwise.

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage gave me the opportunity to not only learn the history but trace back the footsteps of the people who made the present possible. We even had the opportunity to meet and speak with living history such as Dr. Lafayette. I recommend this trip for everyone. History inevitable repeats itself in different forms but if we all educate ourselves and learn from our history we can prevent the past from reoccurring.

Jasmine McDowell's post

I was surprised at how much I learned after this trip. Also, I was also surprised at how much my high school and middle school textbooks had left out so much valuable information. If it wasn't for me taking an African American history class in college, much of the information from the trip would have been completely new.

My favorite museum was probably the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The museum was built around the place where one of the first sit-ins took place. It felt very surreal to be able to stand in the place where African Americans peacefully fought against racism and segregation. In the museum was an exhibit called the “Hall of Shame” this exhibit was a hall of gruesome and violent pictures. It was story of the raw and unpolished history of the United States during the Civil Rights Movement. These black and white pictures of people who had been tortured, beaten, and lost their lives showed the hatred that haunts US history.

Those events helped to move people into action and are some of the reasons why the movement has progressed so far. While todaythere aren't as severe of cases of racism and segregation, I believe there are still parts of this country where inequality and racism still exist. After going on this trip, I hope to use the information I have learned to tell others about this history and raise awareness of the past in order to improve the future.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maria Valenzuela; CRP Reflection

Last Friday, I left my dorm ready to enjoy spring break. I was very excited to be on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage because I would visit different museums that would retell what I knew about the Civil Rights movement. The reality was much different.

In every museum, every site, from Greensboro, North Carolina to Memphis, Tennessee I was reminded that there was still so much I did not know. My high school history classes only gave me a glimpse of what had really happened in the Civil Rights Movement. I learned that the movement encompassed more than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. The movement involved mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons. The Civil Rights movement was the freedom riders, it was the children who walked out of class, it was the working men and women who boycotted segregated buses or facilities. All these people tell us that it takes many to change the status quo, it takes many to strengthen and empower a movement. 

The country I live in today would not what it is without this movement. The Civil Rights Movement as stated in the movie The Butler, "sought to save the soul of this country". Despite the many things the Civil Rights movement has done, that does not mean the fight stopped there. Today, segregation is worse than it was in the 1950s. To me segregation was a normal thing. I grew up and still live in the South side of Chicago. My neighborhood was predominantly Latino, and while I grew up it was very normal and comfortable for me to live in a segregated area. I never questioned my segregated environment. This trip has opened my eyes. It is true that history can  serve as lens to bettering our future. And this is what this trip has done for me. It has opened my eyes to what I thought was okay in my home city. Segregation should never be a comfortable situation. People shed blood and tears to change the Jim Crow South and to remain comfortable with segregation today does no justice to what civil rights activists went through and fought for in the Civil Rights movement.

I am very glad I went on this pilgrimage. I learned so much more about the Civil Rights movement and how it relates to current issues. One of the greatest lessons I can learn from this trip is to never sell myself short when I am fighting for something. If my cause promotes equality, promotes justice then I should not feel hopeless. Justice always wins and that is what the Civil Rights movement has taught me. No matter how hard or how long the struggle may feel, justice will always find its way to the finish line.

This trip has also encouraged me find other hidden history. Many of the things that truly inspire me are never found the textbooks I had to read in high school, and some of the history that pertains to me specifically never plays a major role in history textbooks. It is important to find the history that pertains to us, that inspires us, that provides us with examples of own people doing great things. Then we will be a step closer to understanding the beauty of every person's culture and background. As a famous quotes states, "you don't know where you're going until you know where you've been."

Final Post

After a great week in the south and visiting some amazing places, we have arrived back on campus. It's bittersweet though knowing that I won't be exploring a new place everyday, but I have come back to campus with new eyes. My biggest takeaway from the trip would have to be that I tend to tolerate more than accept people who are different from me and that's something I'm going to work on now. I have been telling all my friends about the trip because they were genuinely interested in it and I think some of them may come next year. I really think I made the right decision about where I spent my spring break. I came away having learned many things and expanding my knowledge while also making new lifelong friends. I cannot thank January enough for organizing this event, it was a great opportunity. I also have to thank the trip planners Nick, LaQueishia, Latrice, and my discussion leader Youyou for planning our trip and getting us to all the places we possibly could. Thank you guys so much and I'll be posting a public album here with all my pictures soon.

Thanks again for a great trip everyone! See you around campus!

Final Thoughts

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage Trip has by far been the best trip I have ever been on.  Whether it was cracking jokes and enjoying the laughter of your new friends or being educated by prominent activists in the Civil Rights. This journey has really opened my eyes to see how privileged my generation is now. I will continue to never take anything for granted nor  will I ever spread hate or terror amongst others. Seeing new faces and making new friends was a huge plus which made this trip more exciting and fun. I would highly recommend students to take advantage of this great opportunity. That willingness to learn, that drive to be a part of something life changing, that urge to help define who you are and what you can do to contribute to future generations could stem from this program/trip. I have gained and learned so much from this trip I must pass that knowlegde on to the next person. I would like to thank the Trip Planners Laqueishia, Latrice, Nick, and YouYou for the great experience and excellent choice of Museums/Cultural Centers. I would also like to thank January Boten for allowing me to share this experience with some great people from the University of Illinois.



Trip in one word: Motivational

Most significant place we've visited and why: Freedom Rides Museum, simply seeing how the population of the movement members were students. It makes the actions of them more significant because it shows we as young people can make a difference. That we don't have to be anyone spectacular in order to stand for a cause.

One key take away? Application? I heard from a speaker and also from a video displayed in an exhibit about this theme: "Why are you afraid to die? People die everyday"... and "I am not afraid to die. I have given my life to the cause. I have already died."

It encourages me to take a stand and exercise my right to vote as well as encourage others to cherish the fight behind voting.

Feed back to futures planners: I was a planner but from feedback I would give an equal amount of time and not to feel rushed in certain cities. Allocating time for travel in between destinations.

Chibu Asonye's post

Day 1: Friday, March 20, 2015

Hi! My name is Chibu Asonye (I realized I didn’t tell you my name earlier), I’m currently a freshmen and I am very happy that I was able to go on this trip.

We’re on the bus and were watching these Civil Rights movies giving a look at what we will learn at the places we go. Guys, Elementary and High schools need to step up their game because they don’t tell you the truth. They act like the Civil Rights Movement happened in a day the amount of time spent on it. No Shade but we can definitely do better in our history departments. The Civil Rights advocates were bosses! Like in the slang term. They People Kicked Really Butts. I cannot stress enough how more I have learned about these people in the last like five hours. I’m already excited.

Day 3: Sunday, March 22, 2015

At the Center for Civil Rights and Human Rights, I did a simulation of the Lunch Counter Sit-Ins. It was a one minute and 46 seconds. I almost cried. How these people lasted for month with that kind of treatment blows my mind. They were my age.

Later that day

Being on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, I have been able to engage in conversations that I wouldn’t been able to. One night, we ate at Mary Mac’s Tea Room and I sat with three boys, Ryan, Austin, and Jacob.  Our table consisted of an African-American, Native-American, and two White students; but of the two White students, one was of high-socioeconomic means and status and the other was of low socioeconomic status.

 Clearly, we all come from different walk of life but we’re all on this trip. That night was an amazing nigh because of our talk and boy, did we talk. Ryan, comes from a highly affluent family, doesn’t have to worry about tuition, and is studying Philosophy. He asked out table about privilege; being a white male, do we think he should feel some sort of shame? Guilt? Like rich persons remorse. Now, I don’t know who is actually going to read this and what you all would say, and since I wasn’t this to be concise, I won’t go into detail about my answer (Which was a Hard NOO, by the way).  But I was surprised that he would ask this to us. I have to work and will be working for the rest of my four years because my scholarship requires it and I need to pay for books and my tuition. It surprised me that he cared and more so, sympathized with needing to work.

We also talked about the Chief and other socioeconomic barriers, what it was like for me, an African-American from Chicago to go from a very diverse high-school to a Primarily White Intuition (PWI). Again, I won’t detail my answer but for me it was and I quote, “Weird.” Anyone who has read this far, feel free to ask me for my full (don’t worry, I’ll also be concise) answer, you know, if you want to.

I probably would never have talked to Ryan, my new questioning friend, if I were not on this trip. Not going to lie, but I was starting to think the kids at U of I were a little too covertly racist but Ryan definitely gave me hope for my fellow classmates. Both White and Black (that was a reference to my PWI question, just in case you were wondering my reasoning).

Bye for now!

Day 4: Monday, March 23, 2015

I got to meet a Freedom Rider!!!!That basically says it all :D


Day 6: Wednesday March 25, 2015

 Ok, So we just finished this slavery reenactment and I liked it. I did. I didn’t necessarily have fun but I think why we acted this out was not only important but good. The reenactment brought out a lot of feelings from me and not all of them are very nice. So here’s a fair warning: What I wrote next is angry but read it. And if you read it, continue to read what I wrote next, don’t just stop at the angry part.

The Mad Part:

I liked the reenactment. However, I am currently extremely upset by the reaction of the White people in the other group that came with us. Why you might ask, well because they were acting like this happened to them. Like it didn’t. How dare you cry, like this is something that’s close to home? It’s not. No one in your family and your entire bloodline would ever go through something like that nor will they ever. For the pure fact that you are of the “dominant” race and no one could ever think of possibly oppressing you in any way. These girls came over to console each other. CONSOLE. Like what are you consoling? Her trauma. Trauma of what? What did you connect with that made is so that you would feel upset. Another girl was like, I can’t believe that my ancestors could do something like that and I have a black friend, so it really hurts….STOP. No, never. So, if you didn’t have a Black friend would it not have hurt? Would you not felt that what these people did was wrong? It takes knowing a black person to make all this slavery business to seem real and cruel? Like, Really? I’m over here like: I don’t know that many Jewish people but I recognize that the Holocaust was awful and an incomparable wrong that should never happen again. My heart goes out to victims and the survivors of this dark period in history. But I shouldn’t need to know a Jewish person to feel sympathy or empathy or sadness or anything in that regard. We are all humans, we are all people, we are all of the same race, Man-kind. If you need to be friends with someone who looks different from you to empathize with the victims of oppressors than I truly worry about you. Slavery was a systematic oppression and degradation of African people.

I ask you, why is that the way to see into injustice.

Less Mad Part:

So, I reread my upper paragraph and I’ve calmed down a lot. Talked it out with some people and I have a better hold of how the girls I “discussed” were probably feeling. I will admit, I was pettier then I should have been in my writing and I apologize because I was unfair. I can now see where they were coming from, I still don’t necessarily agree with their mentality but at least I can understand and I know that I’ve grown in that.

I’m really glad that we went to the reenactment.


Last Post:

            I learned a lot about Civil Right and also a ton of other really important life altering stuff this week. What I love most of this trip was the conversations because it allowed you to talk though the problems of that day but also of todays’ and man did we talk. I had a four hour conversation and I stayed calm. Took enough effort too.

            I think that everyone off all backgrounds and identities should come on this trip. I learned just as much if not more from my conversations and listening to people talk as I did with the museums. That’s because this trip created a safe environment for us to have these conversations and discuss controversial, life themed issues and problems. Issues and problems that we all know we play and can play a part in.


WOW it's been 9 days of learning, meeting historians, new relationships
travel, smiles
laughter, whispers, songs, story telling, eating, sharing and family! The students on this trip are trailblazers in their own right as they sacrificed their spring break to embark upon a journey that they won't just remember forever but that they can share with family and friends.

Although I knew many of these stories it was great to get in depth accounts and perspectives from individuals who walked that walk. Hearing from Dr. LaFayette first hand was incredible!
Learning about Ernest Withers and getting to know the man behind the photos I've seen for years was fascinating. Hearing accounts of the Little Rock 9 (10) was sad yet inspiring. Seeing the campus of Tuskegee University and remembering the lives of Carver and Washington
was nostalgic. Learning about the life of Bayard Rustin and his role in the March on Washington, slave reenactment
walking the Petus bridge in Selma
, going to the Freedom Rides museum and meeting Bruce Boynton
and hearing his story of getting the inside of bus stations desegregated, attending Ebeneazer Baptist Church and meeting Julian Bond and having him share Greek jokes with me.... I could go on and on 

I can't thank January Boten and the planners of the #UofICRP for allowing me to tag along and share in the awesomeness of this experience. I'm forever grateful (plus You You not pictured) Home in 3.5 hours!

LaVontae Brooks' post

What can I say about the 2015 Civil Rights Pilgrimage? It was one of the best experiences in my life. The reason I say that is because I was able to learn about all of the Trailblazers who made it possible for me to vote, sit anywhere on the bus, have the opportunity for an equal education, etc. I'm not saying I did not know about the struggle that my ancestors went through, but I was reminded and educated about the true events that occurred. Two of my favorite moments of the Pilgrimage was (1) listening to the great Dr. Bernard Lafayette speak in Tuskegee, Alabama. Having the opportunity to listen to several moments in his life where he overcame discrimination and even his own death was so humbling and filled me with so much hope. Dr. Lafayette said, "It's not your feet that's carrying you. It's something in you that's carrying your feet"! This reminded me of the importance of having a passion for what you do. (2) It was something about Little Rock Central High School that resonated with me. Maybe it was the fact that I care so deeply about education. Just knowing that the bravery of kids younger than me took on the challenge of desegregating schools was so inspiring. There were so many great things that I can talk about, but I don't have the time. The Civil Rights Pilgrimage has left me feeling grateful, inspired, humbled, EDUCATED, and optimistic about what's to come in the future! January Boten and the trip planners (Nick Tarleton, Youyou Zhang, Latrice Tynes, and LaQueishia Cummins) did an amazing job with making sure we left this trip feeling great about our decision to come.

- LaVontae Brooks, senior

Mary Renee's post

Right now it is 5:40am and we are all on the bus headed back to Champaign. How do I feel? I honestly feel really sad but very hopeful. I am sad in the sense that I don't want to leave my amazing new friends.  I have not been surrounded by so many people in such a closed space in a long time. Not everyone got alone but we all learned something from one another. The best part about new friends is newly found knowledge. When I asked one of my friends why she knows so much, she said "I talk to different people." It seems so simple but it is so true. This trip has taught me to turn relationships into moments and moments into memories. I am completely hopeful because I know every single one of us now have the knowledge and ability to change the world. For most of us, we just need the courage. This trip has been the ultimate experience. Got me thinking every high school should substitute the history book for a trip like this. From my experience, the books I read about Black History was told through the White eye. However,  the knowledge I learned on this trip were told by people who actually cared, people who know things I did not know and people who were actually present during certain historical moments in history, Please, don't sleep on this trip. It was amazing and if I could do it over I would again and again. What was my favorite place? It honestly depends on the people who are delivering the information. They could either make your trip or break it. We had one tour guide that cried as he explained to us the experience of "Little Rock Ten." Also there was a tour guide who kept it real the entire time and told us his personal account about the MLK conspiracy. These are the type of people that you will encounter. Their stories will forever be a memory of mine. There were plenty more but these are the ones off top of my head. There is one thing reading names and dates you might not remember but actually hearing people stories is something I won't ever forget. I am a very proud Black Woman! My history and the sacrifices of my people makes me so proud and appreciative of being Black. Remember, you can I make a difference. Rather its small or large, help contribute to someone day or someone's life. There is still so much that needs to be done in the world but with a plan/strategy and a specific goal, we can accomplish anything. 
-Mary Renee

Laronda Wilson's post

If I can describe this trip in one word, I would defenitlely have to say "INSPIRATIONAL." This trip inspired me to learn more and do better as well as use my knowledge to change the world. 

Every place that we have visted was very significant to the civil rights movement, but the the two places that moved me and stood out to me the most would have to be the slavery museum with the slavery reinactment activity and the Lorraine motel. I loved these places mostly because it was something that I was always interested in when I was younger. I have always heard about slavery from my grandparents and other elders that may have been a witness and or victim of slavery. My knowledge of black history and civil rights was limited to text books, so I am very thankful to have gotten this experience. And to to have witnessed it face to face was awesome! The slavery museum was very realistic as we went through slavery reinactment. It gave me a better idea of what happened to my annesters as well as compare it what is still happeningtoday. I always wanted to go to the Lorraine motel instead of seeing it while I am trapped behind a tv screen. There is nothing like seeing history for yourself. I was very moved when I witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King's motel room, the house he was born in, and the house that he lived in with his family, as well as his personal belongings. I also really liked how the museums recognized the cilvil right participants that were and are not as talked about today. 

There are several great things for me to take away from this trip. One big thing that I will take away from the trip is that these things such as racism still exists in the world todayand it is our responsibly to change history as well as make it. We can change this by spreading our knowlege and making sure that we are aware of what is going on. The movement cannot move foward if we are not educated on the situation. To move foward it's important to have memory, meaning, and moments As well as FORGIVINESS, EQUALITY, HOPE, PEACE, UNDERSTANDING, and UNITY.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

- President Nelson Mandela

P.S. Thnks tp all the planners. They did a great job planning the trip and making sure we got the most out of our experience. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Last Night

I love our trip. I love my group and my roommates! I learned so much about history, civil rights and ourselves during these days. I realized, compared and contrasted my and others' weaknesses and strengthes during the trip. Hope our friendship last forever. Hope our hope for a better future never fades away! Hope the world a better place for everyone! 

Got Instagram? Check out our journey this year!

If you have an Instagram account (or even if you do not have an Instagram account), please follow and check out University Housing's Instagram account by visiting I have been documenting our experience by sharing influential moments of our journey and the places that we have traveled to. Please like, comment, and interact with us! 

Instagram: @housingatillinois

Why Did I Choose To Be A Student Planner This Year?

Why did I choose to be a student planner this year? After participating in the Civil Rights Pilgrimage Trip last year, I felt that it was only right to pay it forward and create an experience for a new cohort of students participating in the trip this year. Latrice, Youyou, LaQueisha, and I have been meeting with January every week to build an awesome experience this year and to improve the trip as much so that students obtain the full experience from the trip. This year, I planned out events that we would be participating in once we arrived to Greensboro, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia.

I planned a visit to the International Civil Rights Museum and Center in Downtown Greensboro to get students exposed to the journey that we would be taking for the week. Students were exposed to an awesome tour guide (who we truly have to thank for not holding back OUR history) who shared insights about the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-Ins and how this historical event sparked many other Sit-Ins across the Southern states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, Alabama, and so many more states. Our amazing tour guide also shared insight on the two-sided Coca-Cola machine, which was something that totally blew my mind when I witnessed it last year and blew the minds of the students who participated this year. On one side of the machine was an option for people to pay five cents for a bottle of Coca-Cola and on the other side of the machine was an option for people to pay ten cents, double the cost of the other side, for the same bottle of Coca-Cola. Believe it or not, the side that had the offer of paying five cents for the bottle of Coca-Cola was the side in a “Whites Only” waiting room and the other side of the machine was the side in a “Colored Only” waiting room. This just goes to show how there were separate spaces for Whites and Colored people, but not equal opportunity for all. Sitting back and observing students’ facial expressions was pretty shocking - because the students themselves had never seen anything like this and their facial expressions gave the look of them still trying to figure out how this was possible. Students were also able to see how separate but not equal buses in Greensboro and the South were with the “Whites Only” section of the bus having supportive straps for those who had to stand up opposed to not so supportive (really barely anything to support) straps in the “Colored Only” section of the bus. Students really received a culture and history shock as they walked past the hundreds of Black people’s mugshots after being arrested, White males painting their faces Black and carrying out performances and other ways that Black people were dehumanized during the Civil Rights Era.

I planned a visit to the Greensboro Historical Museum so that students can get a better background of how the city of Greensboro was during the Civil Rights Era and the background of the community. We noticed that the Sit-Ins played a huge role in the community of Greensboro and to identify the first Black student to integrate a college in the community of Greensboro in the Spring of 1962 and a school in the community in Fall of 1971. Students were really fascinated walking through the museum learning so much about America’s history that they had never heard, seen, or been taught in their “AP” American History course in high school.  My logic behind planning to visit the museums in Greensboro were for students to be exposed to the injustices, acts of intolerance, and truly showcasing the “separate, but not equal” logic throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Students caught on very quick to my logic and purpose of visits to the museums.

When planning to visit museums and historical places in Atlanta, Georgia, I wanted to bridge the connection made in Greensboro to ways that the community back them uplifted themselves as well as shedding light away a bit from Civil Rights and thinking more about Human Rights and events to be more aware of occurring in today’s society. We visited Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where Dr. Martin Luther King’s family preached to allow students to experience a Baptist church and how gospel songs and hymns uplifted the people and gave them #HOPE. Though many students did not identify with being a Christian or Baptist, they were still able to clap and hum to the songs sang during the 11:00 am service and the message which came from John 5:1-15. The message talked about creating who you want to be and to stop limiting who can get to God and many students were able to connect this scripture to limiting those who have the determination, passion, and willingness to step out on faith and fight for the rights we have today during the Civil Rights Movement. Many students even went up to the altar to receive a prayer to watch over them which truly touched my heart. We also ran into Dr. M.L. King's sister, Christine King-Ferris and one U of I alum who shared a great deal of history about the Civil Rights Movement as her parents played roles in supporting the leaders of the movement.

We then visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Downtown Atlanta which really gave students an idea of what Human Rights are. Students had never thought about human rights as this was something that was completely stripped away from slaves and Black people during the Civil Rights Movement. Students enjoyed this museum as this was a new stop on our trip this year. The museum was filled with so much information that I we needed more time to go through and interpret everything. Students really enjoyed the top level of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Downtown Atlanta which touched a lot on human rights. They learned of current leaders who were mistreating people in different countries, Woman’s Rights, Transgender Rights, and so many more rights that we never truly think about that do not receive the proper respect, awareness, and equality in America today. having the opportunity to look at the original documents written in cursive by Dr. M.L. King Jr. and a beautiful picture that illustrated everything that we are still fighting for in today’s society truly hit home for many of our students.

Planning events for Greensboro and Atlanta allowing students to dive into the content of the trip as well as leading small group discussions to get students thinking outside of the box and challenging them to answer difficult questions is truly what I enjoyed the most about the trip. Before we broke off from the group, I always ask students the following questions which shows you the next leaders of tomorrow and the potential we have to one day change the world:

  • Share your favorite thing that you learned or something that you still do not understand with the group.
  • In one word, explain how you are feeling after today’s journey on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage Trip.
  • What is #WhitePrivilege? Do other backgrounds/ethnic groups have a #Privilege that Whites do not have?  

Brianna's Thoughts- This Spring Break Civil Rights Trip Has Helped Me Open My Eyes To Things I May Have Been Blindsighted To In The Past, and Has Helped Me Gain A Better Appreciation and Respect for African American Culture and History. I Feel Like A New Woman, More Knowlegable, More Accepting, More Encouraging, and More Willing To Make A Change That'll Positively Influence The Advancement and Emancipation of African Americans That Are Still (Mentally) Enslaved in America. ‪#‎amazingopportinity‬ ‪#‎iwashereforareason‬

John Elue - CRP Journals

Below are my unedited journal entries during the Cilvil Rights Pilgrimage from 3/20 - 3/28:


We're on the bus heading to the south 

I like the energy on this bus so far. We'll be on the civil rights pilgrimage for the next 9 days. In that time, I expect we'll all get much closer. I expect we'll all go through some amazing learning. I also expect we'll return as changed people. 

It's interesting to think that I've begun journaling for the next year. It feels good to know I'm consistently doing something. I want to be consistent with my reading. That's something I need to work on in my life. 

On this trip, aside from the learning, I want to work on my poetry and my photography. Finding good inspiration might be the key. 


North Carolina 

We're on our way to Atlanta. Today we spent the day in North Carolina. I had fun. I actually just fell asleep for a bit as I was writing that. I don't think I'm stressed, but I'm tired. I might try to nap on the bus. What we did today:

1. Ate breakfast at the hotel

2. Walked down elm street and took pictures 

3. Went to two museums.

4. Ate again

I'm really digging the south though. I'm excited to keep learning!  


Southern Chicken

We went to this awesome resturant. It was pretty chill. I ordered the four piece chicken, fried okra, and Mac n Cheese. Earlier we went to the CNN center. It was packed because the Atlanta Hawks were playing and there was a marathon today. The rain didn't really help either. Regardless, we went to the newly made civil rights museum. It was probably the coolest museum I've ever been to outside of the science and industry museum. I already feel so humbled, especially after this morning's church service. I felt something I have never felt before. Reverend Rice's sermon was honestly incredible. I want to get up, take up my mat, and walk. I'm ready. 

Addition From Sermon:

John Ch. 5

"Do you really want to be made whole?"

"Get up, take up your mat, and walk"


We have to stop limiting who can get to God and how they get to God


Today was legendary

We met some amazing people today. We also visited some amazing museums. My favorite person to meet was the person January has been talking about since the trip started, Dr. Lafayette. He was honestly a great speaker. He made me feel like progress is possible with the proper training and the right amount of research. I'm glad I recorded his lecture. Besides Dr. Lafayette's talk, we also visited Tuskegee University. It was an honor to witness all the history that took part there. As usual (for the last few days) I got some good photos. I'm looking forward to posting my work, but I hope the process isn't too burdensome. 


We're all getting closer and I can feel it

There are slight riffs with certain people in the group, but I think things will work themselves out. I'm truly blessed not only to be on this trip, but also to be on the trip with these people. 

We had another discussion today. I think if was nice to get things cleared up. A little random, but I feel like I enjoy reading a lot more now. I'm able to get in the zone, and I think that's helping me gain focus. I'm excited for tomorrow because we'll head to Selma. Crossing that bridge will be amazing. Taking pictures will be amazing too, especially since I've figured out how to shoot in manual. 


Alexis told me we'd be driving for five hours

I'm actually getting used to the traveling. It's soothing to know that there's so much diversity on this bus. That diversity leads to some heated arguments, though. Today we argued, possibly discussed, a lot of issues stemming from the slavery simulation. The discussion was interesting because it taught me about nonviolence. I normally thought it was something that pertained only to the physical, but I think that's just a part of it. I think a large part of nonviolence is mental and spiritual too. Hopefully I can live a better life by remembering that. 

A quick rundown of today's events:

1. Museum 
2. Second museum (slavery simulation) 
3. Edmund Petus Bridge


Real emotion is easy to catch

I say that because of the way our tour guide, Ryan, felt today. He told us stories of the little rock 9 [10] and how they triumphed over adversity. The other museums we visited today were also awesome. I'd say today may have been one of the most vibrant days of the trip; from the colors to the topics, today was diverse. Once again, I'm glad I bought my camera. I've been able to capture so much beauty. 


She said I have a good artistic eye

We ate dinner today at an establishment where the service was horrible. We arrived first and, against our efforts, left last. Regardless, I ate with Lavontae, Jacob, and Natasha. Besides the food being good, my conversation with Natasha was good. She is the only African American honored in the college of ACES. She looked through my photos and gave me some great feedback. I feel honored. 

We visited the national civil rights museum today. I know I keep saying this, but it may have been the best ones yet. I'm glad I have pictures because I don't know how I'd reflect upon the moments adequately without them. It's such an honor to be on this trip. 


Ernest C. Withers 

I've said that this trip was amazing over and over again, but today can say that definitively. This trip has been incredible, and each new place added to that feeling. Along with the museums and such, the people I ate with were also amazing. The people I bonded with helped me have so much fun. I hope I see them around campus. I hope they say hi haha. Anyway, today was great. We went to two music museums, a photo gallery, and some miscellaneous places. By misc. places, I mean the bar where we got the best special ice cream smoothie beverages ever. I also mean the archives of Dr. Withers. Woo! Thank God for this trip. 

Austin Pye's post

Overall I think the civil rights pilgrimage was fantastic. I learned many new things about myself and civil rights. I think traveling is the best way to learn about civil rights because you hear from firsthand accounts and can actually be at these historical places. Also, I really enjoyed meeting many new people that are different from me and making new friends. The pilgrimage is a great program for anyone instersted in diversity, civil rights, and history. I'm very glad to have gone on this year on the UIUC Civil Rights Pilgrimage.  

Anqi Liang's post

The trip is so inspiring. We went to every important place for the civil right movement. In every museum, I learnt something I never learnt before, something is not on the textbook. That’s very inspiring for me, because as an international student, all I knew before this trip were Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. But now I know there are still many stories many people in the fighting process for the civil right. And national civil rights museum is most meaningful for me. Because in the museum, I could learn the complete history of the black people fight for their right, which can give me a better understand of the whole development of the black society in U.S. I knew that black people risked everything to get their rights: though it could cost their lives, they still fought for rights, for justice, for equity without fear. What I learn in the trip is that if you don't stand up for the unfairness now, the inequality will never get changed. Therefore, after this trip I will be afraid nothing when I know something unfair happening around me; I will stand up and speak out for the justice without hesitation.


Anqi Liang  

BSAS 2018

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Dumaninsha Ward's post

One of the most important things I've learned on this Civil Rights Pilgrimage Tour is that you can't help educate anyone until you have taken the time to educate yourself. For a while I felt like I knew the basics of the Civil Rights Movement but I've learned that I have been cheated out of so much and it almost makes me sad that I didn't take the time to learn more sooner. This trip has been really informative and I've learned so much.  I am very happy that I got to experience it.

"It's not what is being delivered, it's how it's being interpreted" -Dr. Bernard Lafayette  

Jacob Fleener's post

If I could describe the Civil Rights Pilgrimage trip in one word it would be inspirational. The most significant place we visited was the National Civil Rights Museum. I had been to Memphis two previous times and I had not had the chance to see the museum so I had a lot of anticipation built up. When we went there, it was insane how much history was there. I think the most significant part of the trip is where Dr. King spent his last moments alive and see what he stood for. The one thing that I took away is the three M philosophy from the Little Rock Central High School (Little Rock Nine or Ten depending on what history you learn). The three M's are we live for the moments, there is always meaning behind everything, and we live for the memories that are formed. This trip was amazing and the little feedback I have is that I wish we could have gone to Birmingham for the trip to see everything that occurred there.

Shakari Stroud's post

This trip or more so like a journey has allowed me to do a great deal of self reflection. I have enjoyed every place we have visited which carried its own uniqueness. From this trip a quote by Dr. King Jr. Has stuck with me. This quote is "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." This quote has stuck with me because for me it's a reassurance that there is never one way to accomplish something or be successful at something even if you have to start from the bottom, but if you don't loose hope and keep the faith you are bound to accomplish everything you set out to be. Because of this trip I have felt a great deal of responsibility to pass on the knowledge I have learned on this program, because a lot of these things you don't learn through the text book. The exposure of this raw material and journey does not amount to what I have been taught in high school and in college. This trip makes me question my potential and ability for what I can do to make a change in my own community and life, seeing so many young people in a powerful movement during the Civil Rights, but specifically for those we don't even hear about at all in history such as Dr. Lafayette and Jane who was the tenth person of the Little Rock 9. I have learned a lot on this trip thanks to the places we have visited, but primarily about myself during discussions talking with peers and hearing and picturing everyone's point of views from the places we have visited and their experiences. I am happy to have been apart of this trip because it has allowed me to grow and work on my leadership skills in that I am now able to initiate and spark conversations on campus within my communities I identify with and communities of identities I do not identify with. Being exposed to new things, you are forced to reflect on every aspect of your life because you are affected in some shape or form by the experience. If we refuse to acknowledge these changes we can't grow as an individual, and we can't expect to change circumstances and situations in our daily lives. This experience has been liberating, moving, and emotional. 

The planners for this program has been absolutely amazing and I appreciate the time they have put into this trip so that we could get the best out of it! 

Thanks you guys!!



1. Incredible is the word I have to describe the trip.

2. The Edmund Pettus Bridge was one of my favorite places to vist because I was able to literally walk the path of such a inspiration people, those who were were assaulted during Bloody Sunday then make it successful during the 3rd attempt to get African Americans the right to vote.  

3. From learning about the power of research and knowledge from Dr. Laffayate, I will be able to go back to campus and make sure that I start to take action by educating those who do know about the current and past minority struggle in order for them to want to get involved and create a better campus environment for all and have it go out into the outside world.

James Tandaric's post

I was given the opportunity to reflect about this trip and what I had learned.  These were my comments:  

1.  One word to describe the trip: Empowering

2.  The most significant place to me was going to Central High School at Little Rock, Arkansas.  To me, this was the most significant place for two reasons.  One reason is as someone who is passionate about education, hearing the stories of the Little Rock Ten and about what they went through helps motivate me to follow my career of education.  Second reason was we had an incredible speaker named Brian who gave an emotional story about his experience working there and why he works there.  This was really powerful to me and really made think about what those students went through. 

3.  One key take-away was learning how the movement was mostly younger people.  I was surprised as how many young people were there and this made me think how young alduts can make an impact on our world.  One action step is I will attend the workshops about our campus on Tuesday so that I can raise my voice about campus issues.  

4.  One way to improve the trip for everyone is offer more time to discussion and reflections at night. That way, students can have more in-depth conversations about the trip. 

Taylor Walker's post

Describe the trip in one word:


What is the most significant place you visited and why:  I don't want to say that any one place was more significant than another because each piece of the civil rights movement was important to the whole mission.  But the Museum of Human and Civil Rights in Atlanta Georgia was my favorite.  The integration of technology with the information made it more accessible and really brought the civil rights movement to life. It took visitors on a vivid trip through the major events of the movement as well as smaller details that often get overlooked.  And finally, it connected the events of the past with the issues that still plague the world today.  Understanding the events of the past are important to solving problems in the future, and this museum encompassed that idea. 

One key take away: The one key take away for me was that education is important.  As Dr. Lafayette said, one must research their cause, have a set goal to accomplish, and then do direct action. It's important to have an understanding of what the problem is and what tactics can help accomplish the solution.  At all stages of the movement, people had training in their cause, whether it be nonviolence training or formal education in college. People also worked on awareness and educating others in their community which is important.

For future planners: 
I really enjoyed the discussions afterward because people were able to trade ideas in a safe setting.  In some of the larger museums, I would have liked a little more time, but I understand that we were on a time crunch and I appreciate that we were able to visit so many places in such a short timespan. I'd like to thank everyone for making the Civil Rights Pilgrimage a fun, enlightening experience!

The Honesty in Stories and Actions

1. One word to describe this trip: honest 

2. Most significant place visited: Ernest Wither's Collection and Archives.

Imagine 60 years of history in photographs by one man in one small space filed in boxes, drawers, and cabinets. These photos are the epitome of stories captured.

3. Greatest take-away and action: be specific and make your action for the issue's roots. None of these issues are ever at a surface level and you have to understand what you're tackling in depth to know how you're going to change it. I'm going to be focusing more on my plans on making change for civil rights through education, more specifically teaching. I am not going to wait on it because there is no better time than right now to make my next step forward.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Small World

As I was going to breakfast today in Little Rock, I was in the elevator with a couple who asked me "Is all of Illinois at this hotel?" I went on to explain that it was our spring break and that we were on a civil rights pilgrimage as our trip. They were so interested and asked where we had been so far and where we were going. They thanked me for sharing and continued on their way but regardless it was a pleasant exchange and I was glad to represent our school in that aspect. 

Another thing that struck me today is that some of the hotel staff in Little Rock asked me why we came there for spring break. I again explained the trip we were on and they understood more, but not all the way I don't think. When you think "Civil Rights Movement," Little Rock isn't the first thing to pop into my head. I think Selma, March on Washington, or Freedom Rides before that. Our time in Arkansas gave me an education in civil rights and the movement that I never really thought or learned about before this trip. These people who live in the city where many civil rights incidents occurred, like the John Carter lynching or the destruction of the West 9th Street area due to the construction of interstate 630, don't understand the importance of their cities' affiliation to the civil rights movement and it baffles me that they want to just erase that part of their history so as not to learn from it. 

Now today, we traveled to Memphis where we visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. It was kind of eerie exploring the civil rights history in America in the same location where Dr. King was there. I think he would have been proud of the museum and how informative it is to the public to educate them on one of the darkest times in American history. Now, to connect the title of my blog post to the post itself, I along with other members on the trip ran into University of Illinois alums while at the museum. They were interested about us being there for spring break and thought it was a great experience for us to go on this pilgrimage. We then talked about all things Illinois like the cost of attendance now versus then and the changes on Green Street. I enjoyed talking with them and I hope in turn they enjoyed talking to us.

The museum today is at the top of my list of places to revisit in the future. It was informative and interactive and was a great way to start the conclusion of our trip. My friends and I were able to pick out pictures of important people (like Dr. LaFayette's mugshot haha) that we had met or learned about at previous locations. It really connected the entire trip together for me. 

I am very ready to get back to school and finish out the semester, but I am going to miss being with these 50 or so other people every day exploring new cities and museums and increasing our knowledge ang perspective on civil rights.