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About Sojourn

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To learn about Sojourn to the Past from Congressman John Lewis watch his personal message below praising Sojourn.

There is no civil rights education program for students in the country that is aligned with state and national curriculum standards, eligible for college credit in California, and available to underserved, underprivileged or mainstreamed students that is in any way similar to or provides the life-changing experience that Sojourn to the Past (Sojourn) offers.

Sojourn has recently been honored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, by the National Education Association, and by the United States Congress as a unique and exemplary social justice education outreach program for youth. (Tribute made on the floor of the House of Representatives by Congressman Lewis).

Sojourn to the Past is a unique, transformative, and empowering academic immersion program that takes 11th and 12th grade students from diverse academic, racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds out of their schools on a ten-day moving classroom journey along the path of the Civil Rights Movement through five states in the American South.

Comprised entirely of history and the humanities, the rigorous academic Sojourn experience brings the lessons of our shared American history to life. Sojourn’s holistic educational approach incorporates music, text and video into a rigorous curriculum that introduces students to historical sites, monuments and museums. Most importantly, students are able to interact with the best primary resources available: the foot soldiers of the Movement themselves. These speakers include US Congressman Lewis and members of the Little Rock Nine, who like the students, were young when they took up the cause for social change.  Through the lens of the Civil Rights Movement, students learn they have the power to become positive contributors to society who are capable of achieving personal success regardless of life’s challenges. To date, more than 6,000 students and teachers have participated in more than sixty journeys.

Each year, Sojourn reaches upwards of 25,000 students, teachers and others across the country at school assemblies and community meetings with its ninety-minute interactive and introspective presentations mirroring the history lessons taught on the journeys and their relationship to current societal issues. These presentations have reached upwards of 300,000 individuals.

Sojourn is also significant for the positive impact it has on the educators who participate in the journeys. They return to their schools empowered with new strategies for teaching civil rights curriculum that affects the thousands of students who pass through their classrooms over the years.

With racially motivated and hate-based crime on the increase in the country (violent crime is the number one cause of death among minority youth and suicide among gay and lesbian youth is on the rise), Sojourn recognizes its responsibility to teach youth about the lessons of acceptance. Sojourn is significant, not only for its historical and educational value, but, more importantly for the burgeoning recognition of responsibility the students acquire to put the lessons they learn from the Movement into practice in their schools and communities fostering a more civil society that is free of discrimination, violence hatred, bigotry, and inequity. “Programs like Sojourn to the Past ensure America’s future as a land of liberty and justice for all.”  – United States Senator Barbara Boxer


Sojourn to the Past was definitely a pivotal point in my life and certainly a large part of the reason I work in advocacy now.
-Esther, former participant

Civil Rights Resource Center