Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Thomas Merton once said that the American civil rights movement was the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the history of the modern world.

To mark the 2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, 29 Saint Lukers embarked on a Civil Rights pilgrimage to visit important sites in Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery, Tuskegee, and Atlanta. Their journey was tracked on Saint Luke’s Facebook and Instagram pages, and some of the pilgrims will share their reflections at the 9AM Discovery Hour Forum on February 11.

Some notes from their 4-day journey:

A powerful first day— 29 pilgrims set off, flying to Birmingham to begin our Civil Rights Pilgrimage. The group visited the famous 16th Street Baptist Church and the exhibits at the Civil Rights Institute to get oriented for all that is to come.

Day 2 – We drove to Selma, where we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to remember the events of Bloody Sunday and the march to Montgomery that helped secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We retraced the steps of that march, stopping to remember the martyrdom of Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels who stepped in to save the life of young Ruby Sales. After lunch in Montgomery, we traveled to Tuskegee to learn more about the heroic Tuskegee Airmen who served in World War II. Gordon Smith shared the story of his incredible father, Luther Smith, who was a decorated fighter pilot and prisoner of war. A truly memorable day.

Day 3 – We started off by sharing in the 7:30am Eucharist at St. John’s, Montgomery, then made our way to the incredible Legacy Museum—run by Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative—which tells the story of slavery in America and its legacy up to the present day. We also visited EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which commemorates the more than 4,400 black Americans who were killed in racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950. A sobering day, to be sure, but also one filled with inspiration: Ordinary people, filled with faith, hope and courage, can help change the world and build God’s dream for a more just and loving society.

Final day of Saint Luke’s 2024 Civil Rights Pilgrimage. To mark the MLK holiday and Dr. King’s 95th birthday, the pilgrims visited the King Center in Atlanta, including the home in which he was born, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he served, and the tomb where he and his wife Coretta are both buried.

We look forward to hearing from the pilgrims on Sunday, February 11th in the Parish Hall for Discovery Hour.

Parents of Saint Luke’s 7th – 12th graders: Find out more about the Youth Civil Rights Pilgrimage planned for June 2024 and how to register here.