“Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?”

John Robert Lewis
Felicia Ishino and Bob Zellner on the bus.

A Letter from our Director

Riding on the bus during a Pilgrimage can be a unique experience. You often sit with a new person each day, as we switch up seat partners to promote conversation. On my first Pilgrimage, my initial assigned seat was next to civil rights hero, Bob Zellner. I remember asking him about his lifetime of activism and how it looked for him now as an elder. Even today, he still possesses the same fiery, optimistic, and sometimes radical outlook about nonviolent direct action as a means to achieving widespread racial equity. The idea of meeting the type of violence Bob Zellner experienced with a nonviolent approach and a belief that all people can change for the better is difficult to comprehend. To hear his stories firsthand is a gift worth treasuring.

I was recently speaking with Bob and he reflected on the pandemic and its impact on communities of color, as well as the change that has come from the protests across the country for Black Lives and against police brutality. We spoke about his role in the civil rights movement as the first white field secretary in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the connection to today’s social justice movements. Formerly complacent white folk are newly active in the Black Lives Matter movement and he acknowledged this encouraging shift. This is the moment that he and so many others in movements of the past worked hard for; the moment of change he hoped to see realized in his lifetime. 

Bob Zellner has been an important partner and a fixture on our Pilgrimages since the early days. The Pilgrimage draws in aspiration from the freedom rides that he took with other leaders like Bernard Lafayette and John Lewis. Their lives are testaments to finding the good in people and as we remember the lives and honor the work of heroes like Lewis, CT Vivian and Joseph Lowery, I ask that every reader join me in dedicating this moment – this movement – to the heroes who paved the way for a better future. 

Monuments and symbols of white supremacy are falling across the country, so let us recognize the real heroes of this nation. The women and men, like Bob Zellner and John Lewis who deserve to have statues erected in every city and their names emblazoned on the bridges that connect our past to our present. This is who we should be. This is at the core or our work at Project Pilgrimage. Changing the narrative and taking action.

Take care and hope to see you all soon!

Felicia Ishino

Spring 2020 cohort in Atlanta, GA.

Disciplined Hope in Mississippi

(Sasha, pictured above in the bottom row with hat, was a participant on the Spring 2020 Pilgrimage and they graciously agreed to write about their experience and what it has been like to process the past few months.) 

“Hope is a discipline.”

Mariame Kaba

I have thought about James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner every day since Mr. Leroy Clemons shared their story with us in Philadelphia, Mississippi. How could I not? The graphic nature in which Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were killed during Freedom Summer, the killer’s capacity for hatred and cruelty, and the injustice of their lives cut short are heart-wrenching at minimum. Their brutal murder is far beyond the scope of my racial equity context, where less threatening issues like microaggressions are the focus. As I stood in a forest, just down the road from the killer’s family home, the very spot where the men were killed, microaggressions feel inconsequential. 

I have thought about the radiant smile of Mr. Clemons and I can’t imagine what it must take for him to retell the horrific story while the monsters lived in his very town. Mr. Clemons is disciplined hope embodied, creating the circumstances necessary for hope to be real every day. He not only takes people across Neshoba County to retrace Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner’s steps and tell their story, but Mr. Clemons was also a key part in convicting their killer. To hold pain and act is the most hopeful thing we can do.

Read the rest of Sasha’s blog.

PARSE: A Podcast Club

PARSE is a podcast club about race in the United States that began in 2018 with a small group of people who wanted to get together and have productive, brave, and even fun discussions about issues like reparations, whiteness, and Beyoncé. What does PARSE stand for?

Podcasts Against Racism Supporting Equity

PARSE is an alternative to book clubs which are terrific fun AND can sometimes a significant investment of time. Podcasts generally last about an hour and can be consumed while accomplishing your household chores, workout, or commute.

PARSE will convene on the first Tuesday of each month at 5pm. A podcast and theme will be assigned a couple weeks ahead of time. The podcast will cover the theme and there will be optional supplemental materials, if you choose to go deeper. Our conversations will last roughly an hour or two. 

A Platform to Speak the Truth

Using a platform can be a powerful thing. It can amplify. Unite. Confront. Educate. A platform can raise a person’s voice and their view of the world. The person on that platform can influence others and provide access to knowledge and opportunities. Our society has constructed platforms for some voices to soar, while others have been left muted. Project Pilgrimage would like to change that.

Platform is our newest program which will aim to amplify voices, particularly in marginalized communities, to confront and illuminate issues that matter to our collective progress. 

Yes, this will be over Zoom for the foreseeable future. We cannot allow the fatigue of video conference to curb amplification. The forces that divide and oppress are not taking any days off during the pandemic. We hope to extend Platform into the future, when we can occupy spaces together. Until then, we choose to believe that the world can change through physical distance.

Here are the details. Platform will convene roughly once a month. We will highlight a speaker or two and a theme for them to discuss. Afterwards, there will be a question and answer portion. The opportunity to learn together with Platform creates a rich and provocative space. We look forward to seeing you!

Please join us and Quess? in August

For Your Radar

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments.

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