Civil Rights Journey


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[image caption=’National Civil Rights Museum. Photo courtesy: Isaac Singleton Phtography’][/image]

[image caption=’Fannie-Lou Hamer & Medgar Evans. Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress’][/image]

[image caption=’Hollis Watkins in at COFO Office in Jackson, MS. Photo Courtesy: Annette Marquis’][/image]

[image caption=’Bryants Market. Photo Courtesy: Annette Marquis’][/image]

[image caption=’1955 edition of JET magazine features the death of Emmett Till. Photo Courtesy: Annette Marquis’][/image]


The UU College of Social Justice and the UU Living Legacy Project have collaborated since 2012 in an intergenerational Civil Rights Pilgrimage. This year the program will run March 18-25, 2016, with the Jefferson Church of Golden, CO. The pilgrimage will begin and end in Atlanta, Ga., and will take us to the key civil rights cities of Birmingham and Selma, Ala.

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage brings to life this essential part of American history — and helps us understand the ways that racism and barriers to equality still confront us today. Along with our visits to historic sites, we will learn about present-day voter suppression efforts and modern anti-racism movements like Black Lives Matter. Veterans of the civil rights movement and talented musicians will help us engage with the stories and music of the movement, past and present, and we’ll reflect together on ways we can apply what we learn to make a difference in our world.

A “pilgrimage” is a journey to a place made sacred by what has transpired there. A pilgrimage can be spiritual, personal, political — or all three. We call our journey a “pilgrimage” because by traveling to places where so many people rose up to meet the call of justice, we expect to be inspired and changed personally, spiritually and in our own calling toward justice.

To find out more about this program and to request dates for your congregation to travel with us, contact us at

[hidden]From July 5-12, 2014, the Living Legacy Project and the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice will host a multigenerational bus journey into Mississippi fifty years after Freedom Summer.

In 1964, young people were at the forefront of the Mississippi Summer Project — what came to be known as Freedom Summer. They risked their safety, and in some cases their lives, in order to secure the most basic element of American citizenship: the right to vote. Allies from the North joined their Mississippi brothers and sisters and helped shape a crucial chapter of civil rights history.

On this Mississippi Civil Rights Journey, we will learn from veterans of Freedom Summer, many of them Unitarian Universalists. We’ll experience the role that both faith and music play in sustaining people in the struggle for justice. We will deepen our understanding of and competence in a multi-cultural world, and study the links between Civil Rights history and today’s struggle against voter suppression. And we’ll learn how to be effective, inspired workers for justice wherever we live.

  • In Memphis, visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the site of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination
  • In Jackson, take a driving tour of COFO sites, visit COFO Headquarters, Medgar Evers’s home, and the historic Tougaloo College
  • Meet the family of Vernon Dahmer, a Hattiesburg voting rights leader killed by the Klan
  • Visit the cemetery outside Meridian where civil rights worker, James Chaney, is buried
  • Meet members of the historic Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Neshoba County, where civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were last seen after investigating a church fire set by the Ku Klux Klan
  • Travel through the Mississippi Delta where Emmett Till was killed nine years before Freedom Summer, and Fannie Lou Hamer, “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” led a revolution for black representation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City
  • Visit the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where , in 1962, James Meredith desegregated the University, an event that became a flashpoint for the state’s resistance to civil rights

And all along the way, integrate what we’re learning with present-day struggles for justice.

Please join us for this unforgettable experience!

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Next Journey

July 5-12, 2014, apply by May 19, 2014

This program is open to youth in grades 8-12 during the 2013–2014 school year and for adults of all ages.

Cost: $1,280 per person; financial aid is available. Price includes all lodging, local bus transportation, all meals, speaker fees, entrance fees, and the guidance of experienced facilitators. Cost excludes transportation to Memphis, and any snacks or personal items you purchase. Financial aid is available on a first come, first serve basis for those with financial need.  Be sure to fill out the relevant questions on the application if you would like to be considered for aid.

Aid awarded is contingent on funds being available.

If you have any questions, please contact us here.


We will be traveling by bus and staying in hotels. The program includes some walking and standing. Program leaders will work to make reasonable accommodations for those with mobility limitations. If you have concerns about the appropriateness of this trip for you, please contact UUCSJ.


In preparation for the journey please read or watch two of the three books and films. The study guide provides important background and preparation for the trip as well. Because the study guide is broken in to six 1-2 hour sections, we recommend you start working with it as soon as you are enrolled on the trip.

Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights by Robert P. Moses and Charles E. Cobb, Jr.
Read Chapters 2 and 3 (pages 23-87). This book is available from Beacon Press (

Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC edited by Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, Jean Smith Young, and Dorothy M. Zellner

  • Read Part 1 (pages 1 to 32) (one woman’s account of what led her to the Summer Project)
  • Read part of Part 3 (pages 144-152) (the role of music in the Movement)
  • Read one section in Part 4 (pages 195-209) (an account by a Unitarian Universalist)
  • Read Part 5 (seven accounts from the Mississippi Summer Project)

Eyes on the Prize, Episode 5: “Mississippi: Is This America?”
The “Eyes on the Prize” series is a PBS video documentary on the civil rights Movement.  It is widely available in public libraries and can be ordered from

UUCSJ’s Study Guide, a resource for cross-cultural engagement

Help us spread the word! You can download a flyer with our general youth program information here.

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Our Partner

The mission of the UU College of Social Justice (UUSCJ) is to inspire and sustain faith-based justice work on issues of local, national and global importance. The mission of the Living Legacy Project (LLP) is to share the lessons of the Southern Civil Rights Movement in order to challenge and inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Program Leaders

Rev. Gordon Gibson has been involved in organizing and leading journeys to civil rights sites since 2004. He brings his experience of living in Mississippi 1969-1984 when he was the Unitarian Universalist minister in the state. For seven of those years he was also an investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During the first weeks after Gordon was ordained, he was in Selma, Alabama, taking part in early phases of the voting rights campaign there. In retirement, Judy and Gordon live in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Gordon is writing a book about Southern Unitarian Universalists in the civil rights era. Gordon currently serves as a member of the Board and the LLP historian.

Wazir Peacock is a veteran Mississippi organizer for SNCC. To read more about his work and own personal accounts of civil rights, click here.

Kristin Famula, a UUCSJ Program leader, spent the past seven years in Colorado as the director of religious education at a Unitarian Universalist church.

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For FY2016 The Civil Rights Journey will be run by our partner The Living Legacy Project.

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Heather Vickery is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with UU congregations, State Action Networks, past UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) program participants, and regional staff in order to expand engagement in UUSC and UUCSJ’s work. As the Coordinator for Congregational Activism, she manages the workshop offerings and group visits to the UUSC/UUCSJ office and assists with communications for the Activism and Justice Education Team. Heather is an active member of the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network and a dedicated dog-mom to her rescue puppy Nova.

Heather may be contacted at and 617-301-4303