Members of the Alabama delegation are putting their politics aside and joining forces to lead a bipartisan congressional delegation of nearly 50 members from the U.S. House and U.S. Senate on the 2019 Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage.
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Martha Roby (R-AL) are co-hosting the annual event put on by the Faith and Politics Institute (FPI) along with civil rights icon U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA).
“The annual civil rights pilgrimage is a valuable opportunity to turn toward this painful chapter in our history, rather than away from it,” said Jones. “By reflecting on the sacrifices and injustices of that time, we can better apply their lessons to our daily lives. We are seeing a resurgence of the kind of dangerous rhetoric that inspired hate and violence in our past and undermined the values we hold dear. To honor those who bravely fought and bled in the pursuit of equality, we must continue to shine a light on their actions and stand up against those who would once again use hate as a tool to divide us.”
The theme of this year’s pilgrimage is “Finding Hope from History.” The bipartisan congressional delegation will experience sites where history was changed by the nonviolent protest of brave foot soldiers who marched for civil rights and will visit historic civil rights landmarks such as Birmingham’s 16th St. Baptist Church, Montgomery’s Dexter Baptist Church, and Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. The delegation will engage members of Congress on the events that changed the course of American history and seek to apply those lessons to the challenges of the day.
Sewell is hoping this year’s pilgrimage will do just that.
“As Alabama’s first Black Congresswoman, I know I stand on the shoulders of so many giants who courageously fought, bled and died to make our society more just and inclusive for all,” explained Sewell. “I hope this Pilgrimage will help us reflect on all that we can do – individually and collectively – to advance justice and equality in our nation.”
The Civil Rights Pilgrimage will also bring members of Congress to The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery to learn about the history of domestic slavery and lynching in the United States. Opened in 2018, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is “the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”
Roby, whose district includes the National Memorial for Peace and Justice says she hopes her colleagues will “immerse themselves in the history” of Alabama.
“Each year, this event serves as a unique opportunity for lawmakers to immerse themselves in the history of my home state and to better understand its place in the American Civil Rights Movement,” added Roby. “I encourage this year’s participants to share their experiences and Alabama’s stories with residents of their home states so that all Americans can take part in building a legacy of hope, faith, and justice for generations to come. Together, we will shape a brighter future.”
This year’s pilgrimage to Alabama will take place March 1 – 3.