Youth to Retrace Civil Rights Steps

Twenty high school students from Mississippi will travel in July to commemorate the journeys of many African-American and European-American pioneers of the American civil rights movement.

The event, called Writing a New History Civil Rights Youth Pilgrimage, is being planned by “Coming to the Table,” a program of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University.

The trip will begin in Philadelphia, Miss., on July 11, proceed to Jackson, Miss., and carry on to Memphis, Tenn., Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, Ala., and return to Jackson on July 16.

This unique journey will focus on high school students honestly and openly engaging American civil rights history while considering how they might write a new history for future generations.

Ten African-American and 10 European-American youth from Philadelphia, Miss, ages 16-18, will participate in the venture. Their stories and voices will be captured through a half-hour documentary that will be filmed during the journey.

In order for these students to connect with that particular history, they will hear from and interact with persons who have been deeply involved in the civil rights movement.

Historic sites the group will visit along the way include the home of civil rights martyr Medgar Evers, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national historic site, the Rosa Parks Museum, the National Civil Rights Museum and the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Coming to the Table is funded in part by the Kellogg Foundation and the Fetzer Institute to support the  program’s mission to “foster racially harmonious relationships and community by facing a shared history and building a bridge to a brighter history for the next generation.”

The name is inspired by the call of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his historic address at the March on Washington in 1963. He prayed that “the sons and daughters of formerly enslaved and the sons and daughters of their owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Coming to the Table is committed to achieving that goal through providing space and facilitation for cross-racial dialogues, supporting community projects and equipping youth to be agents of change by providing them full access to history. The program is non-partisan, multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-generational. More information is available at

More information/comments: Sha Jackson, associate director, Coming to the Table, 540-432-4491;