Students engaged in social justice.

Students engaged in social justice. Kimiya Factory / The Paisano

Students explore civil rights history

This year, the Student Leadership Center (SLC) facilitated the annual Civil Rights and Social Justice trip (CRSJ) and added a sixth day to the usually five-day trip. The trip included visits to nine museums in the cities of New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Selma, Alabama; and Memphis, Tennessee.

The SLC at UTSA facilitates trips like the CRSJ trip and other leadership-skill building workshops to further connect students with faculty and staff in a way that allows students to develop leadership skills and make connections they can use after graduation.

“The Civil Rights and Social Justice experience (CRSJ) is a five-day bus trip through the Deep South, which immerses students in the history of the civil rights movement. We’ll usually stop in three to five cities and students will get to visit historical sites of the civil rights movement. In the past this has included New Orleans, Louisiana; Birmingham, Alabama; and Memphis, Tennessee.” Vincent Perez, associate director of the SLC said.

Statue at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Statue at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Kimiya Factory / The Paisano

The trip is an opportunity for students who are curious about the civil rights movement to stop at famous landmarks such as Little Rock High School, the National Civil Rights Institute and the Slave Haven Underground Railroad. Large and small group discussions about student’s experiences visiting each historical location are offered, creating a learning experience for everyone who goes on the trip.

Pearl Gonzalez, an attendee of the recent trip and graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Program enjoyed the experience.

“Being able to immerse myself in historical sites, discussions and insights has given me an experience beyond the textbook. I not only got to experience the untold narrative of civil rights history, but I was given a sense of unity in this continuous fight for justice. In a world filled with so much chaos and hopelessness I was given an experience that enhanced my perspective and given me hope in humanity again,” Gonzalez said.

After the trip, students who attended the trip are required to apply their experience to the San Antonio Community and participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. march held in San Antonio on Jan. 21. Students must also reflect on their experience at a banquet being held Jan. 15 on UTSA’s Main Campus in the Denman Ballroom at 5:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend both the march and the banquet.

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