Res. Life offers spring-break tour of civil rights sites

Back to Article
Back to Article

Res. Life offers spring-break tour of civil rights sites

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Pilgrims in a historic land

Approximately 50 years after civil rights advocates marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, SLU students will make a pilgrimage to landmark locations of the civil rights movement and discover the continuing legacy it has on today’s social justice issues.

Selma: The Alabama town is one of numerous cities to be visited this spring break. SLU students participated in the seminal march that occurred there in 1965. The University News archives

Selma: The Alabama town is one of numerous cities to be visited this spring break. SLU students participated in the seminal march that occurred there in 1965. The University News archives

The Department of Housing and Residence Life is sponsoring this opportunity for 20 students to take part in the civil rights pilgrimage, March 6-14, during spring break.

“One motivation for the pilgrimage is for students to visit these places and to draw similarities and differences between the kind of the struggle that happened in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, to some current societal equities that are still happening today,” said J.J. Janulis, assistant director for Housing and Residence Life.

Janulis has conducted similar civil rights pilgrimages at Marquette University, where he worked as the coordinator of intercultural engagement.

“I wanted to bring the pilgrimage to SLU because there’s a lot of momentum from Ferguson, a lot of momentum with “Selma”, and I just think that there are so few opportunities for students to do something over spring break that teaches something about our history, our country’s history with civil rights,” said Janulis.

The pilgrimage will start from St. Louis on March 4 and work its way through Memphis, Tennessee, Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, Little Rock, Arkansas—and then back to St. Louis.

Students will explore such sites as the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and the Medgar Evers home in Jackson.

“Maybe, most importantly, I want the pilgrimage to breathe some life into locations and a movement that I think society would prefer to historicize. So it’s important for us to recognize that these places and these struggles didn’t only exist in history books, but they still happen,” said Janulis.

Students who have already signed up for the pilgrimage have similar motivations for participating.

“Civil rights issues have not ceased since the 1960s, as many have elected to think,” said Emerald Austin, a junior anthropology major. “I really want to get closer to the history of oppression in my own country, and pay homage to those who fought for what was right and deserved for all human beings.”

While keeping these civil rights issues alive is also an important factor for Martin Luther King Jr. scholar Noelle Janak, she is looking for further inspiration. “I think, in this time of great promise and conversation, it is important for me to rediscover why I march and fight so hard for justice,” said Janak, a freshman public health and social justice major.

Janulis hopes that those joining him on his third civil rights pilgrimage will find inspiration and confidence from it.

“What I hope students will learn from this trip, is that in many of these cases, it was one person that started a movement,” said Janulis. “One person can …create a ripple, and that ripple effect will hopefully create some change in society.”

In the future, Janulis hopes to further develop the civil rights pilgrimage into an academic venture.

“Part of my dream is to actually have a priest, a Jesuit, come with us and then actually have this be a part of an academic class,” Janulis said.

Spots are still available. The $200 fee includes travel, lodging and all attraction costs. Payments can be made via SLU Marketplace.

The deadline to sign up for the pilgrimage is Feb. 18.