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Oct 17 2016
by Kirami Bah

UNC-Greensboro Students Go On Civil Rights Pilgrimage for Fall Break

By Kirami Bah - Oct 17 2016

Fall break: a time where most college students plan to binge-watch their favorite shows, spend time with family or get ahead on assignments. At UNC-Greensboro, a group of students plans to spend their fall break alternatively.

An alternative fall break is one defined by doing an activity that positively impacts your community or yourself. Since fall break is a break from school, relaxing and spending time with family and friends sounds very appealing to a stressed-out college student.

But spending fall break alternatively does not have to be elaborate or expensive. The goal of an alternative break is to attempt to uplift those around you or yourself. Some ideas include anything from volunteering, educating yourself about any concerning issues or even participating in a Civil Rights Pilgrimage like the students at UNC-Greensboro.

Fresh U spoke to Porshe Chiles, Assistant Director of UNC-Greensboro’s Office of Intercultural Engagement, about the Civil Rights Pilgrimage. OIE is sponsoring this trip, which is based off a day trip that several students took last year for the Million Man March in Washington D.C.

"Students kept saying they loved the experience [and] they wanted to do something like that again," says Chiles.

In order to participate in this activity, students had to complete an application process. Eighty-six students applied and a resonating theme in their responses was wanting to impact change on-campus and in Greensboro.

Image Credit: UNCG Office of Intercultural Engagement

One UNCG student, Joshua Leeper, spoke about how he can gain a better understanding of the civil rights movement through the pilgrimage:

"I want to get a first hand experience, to see some of things [that the activists] went through. I’m going to the plantation to see how the plantation is used as a source of revenue. I want to be able to look at the accurate history, and be able to learn from it."

Another student found their interest in history to be the reason for their participation in this trip:

"I’ve never been to Birmingham, Atlanta or Selma, [and] I’ve always been interested in history, specifically black history. I want to learn more about the civil rights movement, and the ongoing development [of it]."
Ebenezer Baptist Church, Matt Howry via Fllickr Creative Commons

This year, students will be able to spend more than one day immersing themselves in civil rights. The pilgrimage will last for three days, beginning on Saturday, October 15th until Tuesday, October 18th. Participants will travel together to Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama and Selma, Alabama, visiting important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement. Some of these locations include Ebenezer Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, a plantation and several Civil Rights Museums.

As much as this pilgrimage will help educate students about the Civil Rights Movement, Chiles says that these visits will also benefit UNCG students by allowing them to be more aware of current social issues:

"It’s one thing to hear and see books and movies; it’s another to go to Ebenezer Baptist Church and hear Martin Luther King Jr’s voice coming over the PA system. That’s a different feel. It’s not just seeing, it’s living - it’s reliving those moments. And so the entity is far different, [a] far different cry from just watching a movie. It makes it tangible for [the] people that are attending."
Kelly Ingram Park, Mark Goebel via Flickr Creative Commons

Students going on the pilgrimage look forward to the knowledge they will gain about civil rights and social justice. Tiaira Moragne, a student going on the trip, spoke about how beneficial the pilgrimage will be:

"It’s one thing to learn in class [about the civil rights movement], but to be in space where actual movement happened gives a greater understanding and impact."

The benefits of this pilgrimage are numerous: from learning about American history to learning how to be a better person in today's society - hopefully these students will use their new-found knowledge and experience to their advantage as they become more aware of our country's history and culture.

Lead Image Credit: Kirami Bah

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Kirami Bah - University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Kirami Bah is a freshman at UNC-Greensboro majoring in Communication Studies. She has an affinity for quotes and loves trying new things. Follow her on Twitter @kirxmi.

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