This Pilgrimage is much more than a Civil Rights history tour. It is truly a spiritual as well as physical pilgrimage. We recommend that you plan to set aside or leave behind your many electronic and other ties to “business as usual” at home, so you can concentrate on being fully present to the unique experiences of the week. We will be visiting some of the historic sites and meeting veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, but we will also be spending time together and with guests exploring what racism, white privilege, and barriers to equality look like today in Southern towns we visit---and in our own hometowns. We want to develop commitment, vision and mechanisms within our group to work on issues of race, injustice and inequality that still bedevil the Unitarian Universalist Association and our society.
We hope the following information will help in your preparation over these next weeks.
Arriving in Birmingham
Some of us will be driving to Birmingham, but many of you will be flying in to begin the Pilgrimage on September 21st. We will be gathering at the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport, (5000 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35212, 205-591-6900). The Holiday Inn provides a courtesy shuttle from the airport from 4 am til midnight and runs approximately every 20 minutes. Our group reservations are listed as the Living Legacy Pilgrimage. If you need a room prior to the 21st or on or after the 28th, you are responsible for covering the lodging costs**. Call the hotel at the above number and mention Living Legacy Pilgrimage so that you can take advantage of the special Pilgrimage rates. Parking for the week is available at no cost for the week of the trip. Speak with the front desk clerk to arrange for this.
Reminder: You should have received an e-mailed bulletin with details regarding travel plans, along with a request to convey your specific arrival and departure plans to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check the Living Legacy website http://www.uulivinglegacy.org/2013-bulletins.html to review the earlier bulletins (in blog format so scroll to see the earlier bulletins)). If you have not already done so, please contact us at email@example.com right away with your travel plans, so we can plan accordingly for meals and lodging for the group.
If you are getting to Birmingham early There are at least two things related to the Pilgrimage that you might choose to sample if you arrive on Friday or early Saturday. The Birmingham Museum of Art (2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd - (205) 254-2565 - free general admission 10 a.m-5 p.m.) has three current special exhibits pertaining to civil rights issues or specifically to the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. On Saturdays at 10 a.m. in good weather the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (520 16th Street N - (205) 328-9696) offers a free one hour walking tour of the civil rights historic district; we will be visiting BCRI and parts of this district on Sunday.
Orientation We will begin the Orientation for our journey at 3 pm on September 21st at the Holiday Inn. We will continue getting to know one another by sharing a buffet meal together and other programming that evening at the hotel.
We look forward to welcoming all of you to this Pilgrimage to explore our living legacy!
Our charter bus has 56 seats, an on-board bathroom and overhead storage. Several seats in front and back will be reserved for use by the leadership and for supplies. There will be 44 of us traveling together, so we will share a seat with another traveler most of the time. However, there will usually be room for a couple of travelers at a time to have a seat to themselves when needed. During some segments of our journey, programming and DVDs will be offered. There will be light snacks, water and non-carbonated drinks available at all times.
For your comfort on the bus, you might want to bring:
- Blank Paper
Fall in the South can range in temperature from mid-50s to low-80s depending on the area. There may also be rain showers. Please check the 14-day forecast for our destination cities on the LLP website under 2013LLP- Route to help predict what to expect. Pack sufficient travel stuff for at least 7 days. We are not likely to have access to washing machines.
"What should I bring?" Here are some suggestions of things you might bring based on prior trips:
- Comfortable walking shoes (at least one pair with closed toes).
- Raincoat or rain jacket, umbrella for rain; sun hat and sunscreen.
- Light sweater or jacket.
- Short-sleeved and long-sleeved tops (options for layering).
- Slacks, skirts, shorts, etc.-neat casual is usually fine.
- One good church outfit for Sunday services at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where the normal dress is more formal than most UU congregations. We would suggest that you dress as you would for a special Sunday or a professional job interview.
The UU Living Legacy Pilgrimage is covering all group meals including gratuities, all room bills -- including tax, all entrance fees for museums, honoraria for our speakers, and contributions on behalf of the group at the churches and other "donation-based" locations. If you want to make an additional donation at any site, you are welcome to do so.
Please bring extra money for the following:
- Gratuity for our driver and our tour escort, who will be working hard to make our trip comfortable (at least $5 or more per day per traveler, cash only please).
- Gratuities for hotel housekeeping staff (cash - $3.00 per day is recommended).
- Offering plate at Sixteenth Street Baptist Sunday service (cash or check).
- Personal foods, particularly if you have special dietary preferences or restrictions; drinks, snacks (note that we will make at least one shopping stop).
- Incidental hotel expenses such as pay-TV in your room (payable directly to the hotel).
- Souvenirs and/or books from presenters, museum gift shops, etc.
Several of you indicated special food preferences or sensitivities, and we are working with vendors to accommodate as many of those needs as possible. We are arranging with restaurants, delis and host churches to provide a range of choices. Note that often in the South, vegetables are cooked with meat or animal fat, so they would not fit a vegetarian or vegan diet. At most of our meal stops, we are requesting that at least one vegan-friendly option be made available. We will try to let you know about special menu choices ahead of time, and those with dietary restrictions will lead our buffet lines. Also, we will be making stops on occasion for folks to pick up snacks, drinks or other personal food alternatives.
Accommodations and Luggage
We will be staying in hotels that are modest and comfortable.
There is plenty of baggage storage in the bus, but do keep in mind that we are each expected to haul our own luggage from the bus to the hotel room at each and every stop. Please let us know if you expect any difficulties with carrying your luggage so that we can try to make special arrangements for you.
Nametags and Folders
Each participant will receive a name tag--we ask that you wear it throughout the journey. These are helpful reminders for everyone involved with our trip, both within and outside our group.
Each participant will receive a folder of materials that we will be using daily. It will include a copy of the daily schedule, a list of participants, a Civil Rights time-line and a map of our route, along with other important resources. Many more books and resources will be noted,some of which are available online. There will be pockets for collected notes, brochures, etc. You may want to bring:
- Blank Paper
All of us together – participants, faculty, staff and chaplain – are a learning community on this Pilgrimage. We all bring with us different life stories, and we want to help each other feel safe physically and emotionally as we encounter some intense experiences. We have built into each day a time for sharing in a small group setting where we can listen to others' stories and share our own as we feel comfortable.
Documenting the Experience
Still Cameras, Video Cameras and Audio Recorders No question, these items are helpful in recording our shared experiences. Yet, we must be mindful of the requirements of common courtesy. We request that each participant wait until permission has been requested and given before recording or photographing people and locations that we visit. We would appreciate it if you would share your photos with us. Annette Marquis will be taking photos and will be collecting other’s throughout the trip. We will make them available to everyone who would like them.
Blogging and Social Media
We invite any of you to write guest blogs about your experiences for our Living Legacy Pilgrimage blog. Talk with Annette Marquis (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in doing this during or after the Pilgrimage. If you are a tweeter, please use the hashtag #uullp. If you are a Facebooker, post away but please don't post photos of others (except large group shots) on the Pilgrimage without their permission.
Please like our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LivingLegacyPilgrimage and post your experiences and photos to our page.
To link the sites on our tour with the history, we recommend that you search out a copy of the following book and bring it along on the trip:
- Weary Feet, Rested Souls by Townsend Davis - Arranged by location, it describes each place we will visit, including maps, Civil Rights history, photos and quotes. Provides a good preliminary review of the significance of each site, and a good tool for remembering the sites and telling others about them back home. We will be telling you which pages describe each day's itinerary.
- To further your anti-racism development, we also recommend that you read Witnessing Whiteness, The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do it, 2nd Edition
There are an increasing number of other titles, including such subjects as civil rights history, anti-racism, anti-oppression, multiculturalism and identity issues. We encourage you to explore the Resource section on the LLP website for other materials that you might want to check out prior to the Pilgrimage.
Questions? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
See you in Birmingham!
Living Legacy Pilgrimage Planning Committee
The Reverend Gordon Gibson, Judy Gibson, Janice Marie Johnson, The Reverend Hope Johnson, Reggie Harris, Annette Marquis, and Valerie Walker.