A new understanding of bravery, faith and justice: The Civil Rights Pilgrimage

| Michael St. Ores

UW-Eau Claire works fiercely to provide life-changing opportunities and to prepare students for success wherever they may go. I have a very profound example of this that happened over my spring break – the Civil Rights Pilgrimage.

I was one of eight students fortunate enough to experience the journey through the lens of a journalist and be mentored by one of our journalism faculty. Leading up to the trip, we worked together as a class researching the cities that we would be visiting, contacting individuals who experienced the movement to set up interviews during our visit, and discussing the role of the press in the Civil Rights Movement and how we as journalists can learn from that documented history.

The trip completely changed my view of the world. Talking one-on-one with Freedom Riders, with people who were beaten on Bloody Sunday, and with a man who was on Death Row for 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit; and listening to the stories of foot soldiers of the Movement, hearing about their courage and strength – all of this has inspired me more than anything life has thrown my way. These people were pushed down again and again for standing up for what they believed in, but never once did they hesitate in getting back up and pushing until the very end. Everything that I’ve experienced in my life so far has now been put into a new perspective; has made me gain a new understanding of bravery, faith and justice; and has made me so grateful for all that I’ve been privileged with in my life.

Without the work that UW-Eau Claire does to provide its students with life-changing experiences, all the learning and perspective-shifting that took place throughout that week and even until now would never have taken place. This, to me, is what makes UWEC unique. This university works tirelessly internally as well as with significant partners in the community, the nation and the world to bring the most positively impactful experiences to its students, and prepares them to get the most they can from them.

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage is just one of dozens of incomparable journeys UW-Eau Claire has brought me on the past few years, but I’m just like every other Blugold that walks the sidewalks of this beautiful campus. There will be a massive amount waiting here for you when you get here, too.