Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014

2014 marks the 10th Anniversary of the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage. The eight-day bus journey takes students, faculty and staff to visit the American South’s civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement. The group’s stops include Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King served as pastor; the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated.

Take the pledge to fight for freedom

An update from Kayla, a sophomore human rights and economics double major: The Civil Rights Memorial and Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, opened my eyes to what fighting for human rights is all about; it's not doing something to make you feel good, and it's not helping out one group and neglecting others. It's about fighting for the freedom and equality of everyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, nationality, etc. It's about being the better person not because it makes you look better, but because it makes the community at large a better place for future generations. It's about doing right for all humans. Although in the back of my mind I had known this the whole time, today it was [...]

2014-03-13T10:30:23+00:00 March 12th, 2014|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014|

Pilgrims Meet Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Graetz

An update from Melanie Johnson, coordinator in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs: To meet the civil rights leaders Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Graetz in my lifetime is phenomenal. They fought for rights they had that others didn't, and for that their house was bombed three times and their lives threatened numerous times. I can't say it enough – THANK YOU!!!

2014-03-12T11:26:03+00:00 March 12th, 2014|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014|


An update from Karma, a junior majoring in political science and human rights, with a minor in law and legal reasoning: Throughout my experience as a human rights major, and especially throughout my experience on this trip, I have thought a lot about our education system. What I find particularly distressing about our education system is the lack of holistic information we receive in elementary, middle and high school about the civil rights movement, and about our history in general. When we learn about our history, we learn about it in such a distant and isolated manner. For example, when we learn about the persecution of Native Americans, we learn about it as if their persecution was that of an ancient time, [...]

2014-03-12T11:21:21+00:00 March 12th, 2014|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014|

The March Continues

An update from Celesstia, a senior political science and Spanish major with minors in philosophy and German: This trip has been more powerful than I anticipated. I knew that this would be a tremendous learning experience, but today I finally fully understood that I’m not only learning about history that before this week seemed far removed from me, but I am also learning about myself. I am learning more about who I am and the kind of person I want to be. Participating in this pilgrimage made me realize that we are all connected to the civil rights movement. Not only do we all directly benefit from the work and sacrifices of thousands of people, but in many ways the [...]

2014-03-12T11:15:00+00:00 March 12th, 2014|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014|

I am here now

An update from Mollie, a political science and human rights major: We traveled to Selma, Alabama, earlier this week and were privileged to have Joanne Bland guide us through Selma's history and take us back in time to her participation in the civil rights movement. Ray Jordan, one of our leaders, warned us she had a big personality – and that she did. Mollie and Joanne Bland Amongst my fellow pilgrims, I was trying to blend in and follow Joanne's explicit rules and instructions. Naturally, as I'm trying to avoid drawing attention to myself, Joanne asks me to come stand by her. (As a side note, she called me Ray Charles because we apparently resemble each other. I'm [...]

2014-03-12T09:47:36+00:00 March 11th, 2014|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014|

Photo from Selma

An update from Alexandra, a junior majoring in history and human rights with a minor in Arabic: Civil rights mural featuring the Rev. James Reeb and Jimmie Lee Jackson, who were slain while supporting civil rights. The mural is in Selma, Ala., near the Voting Rights Museum. 

2014-03-11T10:05:16+00:00 March 11th, 2014|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014|

Why this does not grow old

An update from Dennis Simon, associate professor of political science: This is my seventh year of serving as the faculty leader of the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage. As we departed campus on Friday afternoon, I found myself thinking about why traveling for eight days over a welcomed spring break does not grow old. Why have I not become tired of this enterprise? After some travel and discussion time “on the road,” it becomes easy to answer the question. First, I get to renew my partnership with Ray Jordan, whose title of trip coordinator drastically understates his role, contribution, and value to the pilgrimage. His many talents, including perspective and insight, never fail to impress the Pilgrims and make this journey [...]

2014-03-11T09:46:22+00:00 March 10th, 2014|Civil Rights Pilgrimage 2014|
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