This summer, members of St. John’s joined the Diocese of Olympia on the Southern Social Justice Experience. Our group of 25 youth and adults traveled to New Orleans, LA; Jackson, MS; Selma, AL; Montgomery, AL; and Birmingham, AL to learn about the civil rights movement and meet religious communities to hear about their experiences during this movement in the 1960s. Through these experiences, the youth learned how their own voices can be used towards social justice and reconciliation in their own communities and churches. For blog posts directly from youth who attended the trip, check out the blog: https://youthpilgrimage.wordpress.com/
New Orleans, LA
Our group did a walking tour of the Treme Neighborhood, America’s Oldest African American Neighborhood located in New Orleans; visited Louis Armstrong Park; stopped by the site of the Upstairs Lounge fire; and toured the Whitney Plantation, a former sugar plantation that has become a museum devoted to slavery.
Our group visited the home of Medgar Evers, who was assassinated in 1963 for his involvement in the civil rights movement. Afterward, we visited the Smith Robinson Museum and Cultural Center to learn about James Meredith who was the first African American student to integrate Ole Miss. The museum also included exhibits about the Afro-American Migration and the work and life of Medgar Evers.
We then traveled to Selma, AL in a town at the center of critical marches and voter registration movements. We took a silent, reflective walk along the same path that marchers took from Brown Chapel to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in 1965. We also learned about the history of the St. Paul’s Epsicopal Church and the reconciliation work that’s being done in Selma 50 years later.
Our group spent the next day in Birmingham, AL. We visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, and the 16th Street Baptist Church. We ended the evening by spending time with the youth group from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. We had delicious BBQ and ended the evening with singing and compline.
Lowndes County and Montgomery, AL
We stopped at the Lowndes Interpretive Center, which is along the march route to Montgomery. Our tour guide Tiffany brought such passion and excitement to her presentation and interaction with our group! Then we made our way to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Civil Rights Memorial Museum, and we finished the day at the Freedom Riders Museum. Again, our tour guide Dorothy was the best. She engaged our youth so well with questions, stories, and passion.