Civil rights pilgrimage; Marquette University students reflect on trip
MILWAUKEE - In January 2022, several Marquette University students and staff took a trip to the southern United States for an immersive civil rights pilgrimage.
"I have always been drawn to my history as a Black woman and as a Black person," Serina Jamison, a graduate student, said as she looked back on the journey.
Students Serina Jamison, Paige Stoeffler and Nathan Russell recently reflected on the trip.
"I wanted to immerse myself in an area that I didn’t know a lot about," Russell said.
The Civil Rights Pilgrimage was co-sponsored by the university’s Center for Urban Research, Teaching and Outreach and the Center for Peacemaking.
"We saw a lot of the pivotal landmarks and locations where the biggest components of the civil rights movement took place," Paige Stoeffler said.
It was a journey that took students and staff through St. Louis and into the deep south.
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In Montgomery, Alabama, the group visited the National Museum for Peace and Justice. In Memphis, they saw the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. In Selma, Alabama, they walked the historic Edmond Pettus Bridge.
"It’s one thing to look at the pictures and read about it. To walk over Bridge where so many foot soldiers have walked, it was incredible," Jamison said.
Jamison saw the pilgrimage as a chance to learn more about the Black struggle and pass it along.
"The main reason I wanted to participate is just to gain more knowledge as an educator, I’m a lifelong learner," she said.
The students say they were all moved by the Mothers of Gynecology Monument by Michelle Browder in Alabama.
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Nathan Russell said the trip was a learning experience.
"Going to school in Wisconsin, we don’t get taught much about civil rights besides the key stuff, key dates," Russell said. "I look back to what I knew beforehand to what I know now. It’s important to see how much missing information there is within information about such a topic that is needed to be learned about."
While the civil rights journey focused on Southern States, these students hope to make a difference at home.
"I encourage everybody to keep having an open-mind and to speak out," Paige Stoeffler said.
"Be vulnerable and be humble to receive the lesson we have learned from our ancestors in the past and use that information to continue to fight for justice," Serina Jamison said.