Distinguished D.C. delegation to make pilgrimagePublished 7:44pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013
This weekend, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will lead the 13th annual Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage from Washington D.C. to Alabama.
The tour will include stops in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Montgomery before culminating in Selma, Sunday, March 3.
The pilgrimage to Selma will include more than 30 members of Congress.
According to The Faith and Politics Institute, this year the congressional pilgrimage will hold an added significance.
In 2013 the country is honoring the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Several of the pivotal events that fueled these changes occurred in Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma.
The Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage is a 3-day passage through living history that demonstrates the powerful role spirituality and courage play in shaping our nation’s history. These annual pilgrimages have afforded more than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate an experiential journey through the history of the American civil rights movement.
“It’s an opportunity for members of the United States congress and other leaders to join with rep. Lewis through the faith and politics and have a real, true, hands on, active experience with a central part of our U.S. history,” Burns Strider, director of communications for The Faith and Politics Institute. “It was a time when people stood up and they stood for equality and they stood for what was right, and they did it in a non-violent way. The Faith and Politics Institute believes remembering that and thinking about it and experiencing it, makes us better citizens today.
Lewis agreed and said returning to Selma is returning to the symbol of the civil rights struggle.
“After the Bloody Sunday conflict on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965, President Johnson said that in Selma ‘history and fate’ came together ‘in a single place at a single time in man’s unending search for freedom.’ He compared Selma to Lexington and Concord, and I think he was right,” Lewis said. “It is sacred ground, because blood was shed there that helped us build a more fair, more just democracy. It is important for congress persons to understand the struggle that ordinary people had to undertake and continue to wage today in order to participate in the democratic process. In modern history, Selma is the symbol of that struggle.”
The congressional delegation will include representatives from across the nation, and Lewis, who, as a civil rights activist, led the marchers 50 years ago, will serve once again as the pilgrimage chairman.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), U.S. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will serve as honorary co-leaders and U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), and Selma native U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) will serve as honorary co-hosts.
The delegation will include members of Congress and their guests, religious leaders, civil rights luminaries and students, among others.