Faith & Politics Pilgrimage creates lasting memories

Faith & Politics Pilgrimage creates lasting memories
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., took part in the Faith & Politics Pilgrimage. (Stephonia Taylor McLinn/The Birmingham Times)

Last weekend’s Faith & Politics Institute Pilgrimage ended Sunday in Selma with grateful reflections of the past and high hopes for the future.

Earlier in the weekend, Birmingham was the second of the four stops on the annual Congressional Pilgrimage throughout the Deep South as Democratic and Republican congressional representatives traveled to bond and reflect on the civil rights trail from Memphis, Tennessee, to Selma.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in downtown Birmingham was the site of Friday evening’s reception and dinner. The evening included a one-on-one conversation between CNN’s Dana Bash and Alabama’s newly elected U.S. Sen. Doug Jones on the story of his win last December. Jones spoke at length of his Birmingham upbringing during the time of the civil rights movement, and the eventual desegregation of his middle school.

Georgia U.S. Rep. John Lewis was recognized during the reception for his decades of work on civil rights and the leadership he provided by starting the annual pilgrimage in 1998.

Andrea L. Taylor, the president and CEO of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, introduced Lewis as a “freedom rider, marcher at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, convener of the March on Washington, a political leader and rebel of freedom and peace.”

In commemoration of his life’s work, Taylor presented a portrait of Lewis to him that will be housed permanently at the Civil Rights Institute.

Quentin Riggins, senior vice president of Alabama Power’s Government and Corporate Affairs, spoke on behalf of the company and presented a $10,000 check to the Faith & Politics Institute to continue the work of bringing officials from both sides of the aisle together for the common goals of bipartisanship and inclusion. Alabama Power has been a longtime partner of the Faith & Politics Institute.

The Faith & Politics Institute is a Washington-based nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire political leaders to reflect and engage with one another for the good of our nation. The organization hosts forums, conversations and pilgrimages to historic sites around the country as part of that mission.

Congressional representatives, regardless of party affiliation, volunteer to participate in several journeys around the country. Lewis started the Institute’s annual pilgrimage to Alabama in 1998 that travels from Memphis, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, with stops in Birmingham and Montgomery, and concludes in Selma to commemorate Bloody Sunday in 1965.

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