Civil Rights—A Journey to Freedom A Cultural Tour with Orbridge

A quilt, like the one above under construction at the Gee's Bend Quilting Collective, represents many things: warmth, art, resourcefulness, and a connection between the past and present.

America, much like a quilt, is held together with contrasting parts and a notion that all are created equal. In defending this principle of human equality, many Americans have sacrificed their fortunes, honor, and even their lives. Yet so much still needs to be done. To be learned. To be understood. To change.

Join Orbridge for a cultural journey to the Deep South for an intensive program focused on examining the Civil Rights Movement.

Tour the Lowndes County Interpretive Center, a site dedicated to those who peacefully marched 54 miles from Selma to the state’s capitol in Montgomery in order to gain the right to vote.

Why participate in this program? Why with Orbridge? Why now?

In 2019, Orbridge, in partnership with a non-profit organization in Alabama, began thoughtfully designing this travel learning experience that leverages unique relationships and knowledge of a vital subject and region.

With this program you'll encounter history as never before, with the opportunity to learn in-depth from knowledgeable guides, speakers, and actual foot soldiers. Discover stories and perspectives not readily taught (or even known) in conventional academia.

Hear Dianne Harris recount of being arrested and stuck in the arm with a cattle prod as a teenage freedom activist and walk with her across the Edmund Pettus Bridge; understand the importance of mass meetings for the Movement by informative discussions with Dr. Martha Bouyer, producer of civil rights curriculum supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities; and listen to historian Joyce O'Neal share her knowledge of Brown Chapel AME Church and describe life in Selma before the Voting Rights Act was passed.

From left to right: Congressional Foot Soldier Medal and Certificate recipient Dianne Harris, educator Dr. Martha Bouyer, and Joyce O'Neal—historian and foot soldier recognized by the U.S. Capitol (2016).

Orbridge's Civil Rights program also delivers enrichment from noteworthy participants Peggy Wallace Kennedy, Wanda Battle, and Sandy Taylor.

Left, top: Peggy Wallace Kennedy. Left, bottom: Wanda Battle. Right: Sandy Taylor.

Over lunch in Montgomery, hear from author and civil rights activist Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of two Alabama governors, including George Wallace—one of the most prominent faces of segregation. From such a unique background, learn how she has worked to transform a legacy of hate and division into a mission of love and reconciliation. At Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, you're sure to feel uplifted and connected in the presence of its Tour Director Wanda Battle, described by Southern Living as "a joyful, passionate powerhouse of positive energy." Leading tours at this MLK church is not just her job—it's her calling, and time spent together is a mixture of history, therapy, and popular trivia.

How often do you have the chance to dine with recipes featured by scientist George Washington Carver? Sandy Taylor, a retired Superintendent of the National Park Services in Tuskegee, cordially invites you to her home for such an occasion. Not just any house, this historic property built around 1855 was once a slave plantation, and has been painstakingly restored and re-imagined by Sandy and her husband.

The itinerary features many notable and iconic sites, among them the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, and the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Left column, top to bottom: 16th Street Baptist Church, exhibit within Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Right column, top to bottom: a statue at Kelly Ingram Park and the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Survey such sites in the cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, where the national leadership took shape, and tens of thousands of people came together to advance the cause of justice against remarkable odds and violent resistance.

Transformative discussions. Delicious food. Well-appointed accommodations. This relevant and meaningful program offers it all—and we haven't even mentioned meeting quilters from Gee's Bend, attending a lively musical presentation, joining staff at the Equal Justice Initiative for a conversation about changing the narrative of race in America, celebrating the accomplishments of the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen at Moton Field, and the fun, optional music-focused post tour available.

To receive a complete look at the engaging itinerary of this journey, please click here. For a glimpse into more of the valuable content you can expect from our tour, we invite you to meet in advance another of our esteemed speakers, Dr. Verdell Lett Dawson, featured in the video below produced by the Voices of Alabama project. This oral history work is a partnership of the World Monuments Fund and the Alabama African-American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium, originally managed by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Learn more about Voices of Alabama and explore the stories of 20 sites that played significant roles in the African-American struggle for freedom by visiting voicesofalabama.org.

We encourage you to join us for this program where you'll be moved, and also inspired to move, for the value of all people. Dr. King's words are as significant now as they were then: "Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Created By
Orbridge Destination Specialists