By Sam Jones, Associate for Marketing and Enrollment

Last spring, I left a job in technology retail to begin working in the newly formed UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ). After four years of selling phones and laptops, I wanted to return to justice work. That decision to join UUSC is what brought me here, to Atlanta, where I’m leading UUSC’s eighth Civil Rights Journey — the first ever through the College of Social Justice.

For me, the conviction for that decision came from experience in my teenage years. After high school, I joined AmeriCorps and spent two years working with youth in marginalized communities. Between working in after-school programs and organizing service projects, I helped lead a 12-week training program for high-school students that covered many facets of privilege and discrimination in the United States. After college and retail, I knew my calling was to get back to doing this kind of work.

So now, a year after starting in UUCSJ — after helping 60 people travel to Haiti and launching our programs at General Assembly — I’m leading a group of teenagers to learn not just about privilege and discrimination but about how to overcome them.

Our first day has been amazing. Hosted by the UU Congregation of Atlanta, we spent the day with George Friday, the field organizer for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), a UUSC civil-liberties partner. George is a dynamic woman who has been leading anti-racism and anti-oppression training for over 20 years, and her experience showed. She guided a powerful conversation that started with discussion of the origins of racism in America and ended with an exploration of the language we use to best be allies.

As we travel back to our hotel to get ready for our journey to Tuskegee and Montgomery tomorrow, the youth and adults here are energized, ready to learn, and excited to take part in this work. For me, this is a fulfilling culmination of that choice I made last spring. This journey will take us through the history of the civil-rights movement, and I am certain it will be a powerful continuation of today’s conversation.

Want to honor the legacy of the civil-rights movement and continue striving to make civil liberties a reality for all? Check out BORDC’s Local Civil Rights Restoration campaign and get involved!

Questions about the Civil Rights Journey? Contact us about this and more service-learning opportunities.

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