From May 12 to 15, members of the Diocese of Vermont and students at Rock Point School traveled to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama and Atlanta on a diocesan racial justice pilgrimage.
Their journey included visits to the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and the National Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta.
In Selma, pilgrims met with Ms. Diane Turner, who was 15 years old when she attempted to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in 1965. She described to them “what it was like growing up Black in Selma in the 1950s and 1960s, why she marched, and what was Bloody Sunday actually like,” Canon Walter Brownridge, who organized the pilgrimage, said.
Turner described Bloody Sunday as “scary and invigorating,” and told the group that her parents supported her activism but did not march themselves out of fear of retaliation from employers and white community members, C.J. Spirito, head of Rock Point School, said.
“I found the pilgrimage incredibly motivating, inspiring and stirring,” Spirito said. “It heightened the experience of learning for me and our students. Now we are asking how we carry this forward in a meaningful way that’s woven into the fabric of who are at school and how we live.”
The Rock Point School students who made the pilgrimage shared their experience in a presentation at the school and now other students want to make the same trip next year, he said.
“Our pilgrimage through the American Civil Rights Holy Land was a journey through our nation’s tragedy and triumphs pertaining to human rights,” Brownridge says. “It was powerful, challenging, and inspiring at times.”
photo: Pilgrims gathered at 5&Dime, an art gallery, in Selma. (l-r) Betsy Emerson, the Rev. Phyllis Manoogian of the Diocese of California/Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de América, Ms. Diane Turner, the Rev. Walter Brownridge, the Rev. Amy Spagna, Mary Hamilton (Rock Point School), CJ Spirito (Rock Point School), and Rock Point School students.