Stephanie Jones Strategies serves as consultant to 2011 Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Stephanie Jones Strategies served as a consultant in the Faith & Politics Institute's 11th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage led by Rep. John Lewis March 4-6, 2011

The three-day Pilgrimage featured visits to Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, Alabama where, according to Congressman Lewis, "conscience, courage and conviction changed a nation." The bi-partisan, multi-racial, and inter-denominational delegation included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rep. James Clyburn, Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Martha Roby, Kerry Kennedy, Dorothy Cotton, Dan Glickman and South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool.

Among the sites visited were the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where a 1963 bombing took the lives of four young girls, the Kelly Ingram Park where Bull Connor turned fierce fire hoses and snarling dogs on youngsters marching for freedom, the bus stop where Rosa Parks began the ride that transformed history, and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, from whose pulpit a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first gave voice to a movement.

The trip culminated with a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where on "Bloody Sunday" in 1965, John Lewis and his fellow "foot soldiers" were beaten, trampled and gassed by police. The marchers' non-violent resistance to this brutality awakened a nation and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Unlike in 1965, on this journey, Alabama law enforcement officials not only protected the marchers, many of them saluted as we crossed the bridge - reminding us that "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."

"We are certainly not yet where we should be as a society - our nation and our world are still plagued by intolerance, injustice, misunderstanding, and inequality. We have far to go," Stephanie Jones said. "But last weekend's Pilgrimage shows us that we are indeed making progress and effecting change, one day, one person, one step at a time.

"By taking a moment to look back, to remember and to reflect on the sacrifices and commitment of those who paved our way, we gather the strength and inspiration to continue moving forward together."