Civil rights pilgrimage

Bellevue College  along with the University of Washington will be sending students on a trip to learn about the places and events related to the Civil Rights movement. “We’re going to be going in October 4-12 through four states: Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas,” said Professor Tim Jones who teaches political science and social studies at Bellevue College. Applications are due on Tuesday, June 10th.
“It’s a partnership with the University of Washington. We’re taking five UW students, five BC students, three or four [faculty members] from the two institutions, a couple of staff members and about 15 members of the community.” Various well-known members of the civil rights movement will accompany the students and faculty on a bus trip through the southern states.
The schedule for the pilgrimage is planned to be significantly more organized compared to the previous trip. “There won’t be quite as many surprises as there were on the first trip because we didn’t know exactly where we were going,” says Jones “We haven’t been to all the places ourselves yet; we haven’t met all the people but this time we have.” Furthermore, input from former participants will improve the experience and speakers now know what to expect.
Both teachers and students felt emotional from their personal experiences received from meeting people involved with the Civil Rights Movement. “Before I went on a civil rights pilgrimage, I was thinking about entering the medical field and becoming a doctor” said Melantha Jenkins, president-elect of the associated student government at Bellevue College, “After going on a civil rights pilgrimage and  being a woman of color in America, I thought that I understood civil rights. I thought that I knew it. However, because I got the opportunity to experience these different places, [to] go and walk the same grounds that these people, my whole life has been changed.” Jenkins is now pursuing a law degree in order to change less commonly known laws that infringe on civil rights.
“That’s really powerful stuff that stays ingrained in your memory in a much stronger way when you can see it and experience it, than it does through books and videos,” said Jones, “I think it’s also a really emotional trip. I have a Ph. D.; I know this stuff intellectually, but it impacted me really deeply on an emotional level.”
Participants feel that they gain from the trip and become involved with the community. “Personally, because I went on the pilgrimage, I’m starting a non-profit [organization] called Educate Our America, where I will be doing my own civil rights pilgrimage that won’t be the exact same, as well,” says Jenkins. “My sense was that the three students who did it with us last time from BC felt like they learned more in a week then they had learned the previous year at Bellevue College because it’s an experiential opportunity. It’s really powerful,” adds Jones.
For more information on the civil rights pilgrimage, contact Tim Jones or Student Programs at C212.