Our trips began in 2014 as a class that brought together students, faculty, and members of the community for a pilgrimage to powerful historic locations in Selma, Montgomery, Jackson, and Memphis with Civil Rights foot soldiers like Bernard and Kate Lafayette, Bob Zellner, and Dr. Carolyn McKinstry.
In 2019, we gained 501(c)3 status as a nonprofit organization called Project Pilgrimage with Felicia Ishino as our Executive Director. At this time, trips became more accessible to our broader community through scholarships, and intentional efforts were made to support Black-owned businesses.
Today, after 13 successful trips, dozens of engaging events, and thousands of lives impacted, we continue the work of inspiring everyday people to become everyday activists committed to justice.
The history of America resides within our collective memory through stories. Some stories that we have read or watched, others that we have only heard about. Many vital stories are hidden. For most of us, the version of American history we learn offers narratives consistently written by white people, centering white heroes. The truth is that there are a multitude of stories in our shared history and Sankofa Impact intentionally chooses to center the Black American freedom struggle.
The Black American freedom struggle begins the moment the first enslaved African touches soil in Virginia and wants to be free and that movement for liberation continues today. From our inception as a Civil Rights class with the University of Washington, we have focused on Black stories and that effort continues through our nonprofit work today. Many narratives of Black history, both traumatic and triumphant, have been either whitewashed, watered down, or entirely hidden. We find this unacceptable.
We recognize that many communities hold an endless set of profoundly important identities and that many of them experience a powerful harm in this country. Systemic racism and other forms of oppression are baked into our institutions and individuals are often tasked with overcoming challenges for simply being who they are. Our choice to focus on Black history is a strategic one that holds ourselves accountable to a set of stories that we believe are central in dismantling white supremacy. We work alongside many different communities and often that solidarity can be found in our work. We all must be free.
Our community is committed to fighting systemic oppression through the creation of collective historical memory, especially through the lens of the Black American freedom struggle. Sankofa Impact rejects the notion that centering Black history rejects other histories. We welcome all people in the timeless fight for justice and liberation. We are from different places, various class structures, education, spiritual beliefs, sexualities, genders, abilities, and we value each and every one of you committed to creating a better world.