Robert Moses, Civil Rights Hero

Robert Moses is a civil rights hero. The chronicler of the civil rights era during the King years, Taylor Branch, says that Moses was a self-effacing, observant and sensitive leader. He told one newspaper, “"To this day he is a startling paradox. I think his influence is almost on par with Martin Luther King, and yet he's almost totally unknown


He is not unknown to generations of students who have benefited from Moses’ belief in the power of math to open doors to opportunity. His Macarthur Genius award testifies to the belief people have in Robert Moses’ approach to civil rights in a time when education holds the key to challenging oppression and prejudice. He continues to work through his national non-profit, “The Algebra Project,” using mathematics  as an organizing tool to pursue quality public school education for every child in America.



Robert Moses was in Seattle as a guest of Washington Stem and Project Pilgrimage. He spoke about his own work within the context of American history and his current path to a small group of Project Pilgrimage alums in late November 2017.


Project Pilgrimage’s Sharayah Lane, along with freelance journalist Steve Scher, led the discussion.

Finding The Right Words, Meg Lippert Lauren Mata, On The Bus, Spring 2016

The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation brings people together to talk. It may sound simple, but finding the right words to bridge the deep, old divide of bigotry and prejudice in the U.S. is hard work. Community Member Meg Lippert and Utah State University student Lauren Mata marvel at the simple tools that people could use to find common ground.  

Lauren Mata, USU student  photo by Troy Bonnes

Lauren Mata, USU student

photo by Troy Bonnes

Meg Lippert, Community Member  photo by Troy Bonnes

Meg Lippert, Community Member

photo by Troy Bonnes


"Mississippi Goddam," by Nina Simone

"Mississippi Burning" by Graham Nash

Sense of Injustice, David Domke and Jarlin Division - On the Bus, Spring 2016

The sense of injustice is a real and palpable feeling. It lays heavy on the heart, breathing quickens, rage builds. So does hope.

UW Communications Chair and Pilgrimage leader David Domke felt it in the dirt on his fingers.



UW Professor David Domke  Photo by Troy Bonnes

UW Professor David Domke

Photo by Troy Bonnes


Utah State University student Jarlin Division could smell it and taste it, after a night in prison. 

Utah State University student Jarlin Division  Photo by Troy Bonnes

Utah State University student Jarlin Division

Photo by Troy Bonnes

EJI's project to honor and memorialize the victims of lynching is ongoing. Learn how you can participate.

Remembering Emmett Till, Julie Lyons and Kira Baker- On the Bus, Spring 2016

The story of Emmett Till's brutal murder resonates through the years.  The civil rights pilgrims, students from UW, Bellevue College and Utah State University as well as adult community members from around the NW, walked through the Emmett Till Museum, established in tiny Glendora Mississippi through the efforts of the town's mayor, Johnny B. Thomas.   Back on the bus, Community member Julie Lyons and University of Washington Student Kira Baker were still processing the moment and how Till's murder affected America.

Playbill image from The Ballad of Emmett Till

Playbill image from The Ballad of Emmett Till

Leaving Money, Mississippi, Samri Tasew and Ron Posthuma- On the Bus, Spring 2016

We went to Money, Mississippi to track the legacy of the murder of Emmett Till. The murder was more than 60 years ago, but it isn't forgotten. The pain seems to linger like a heavy shadow over parts of the Mississippi Delta.  Community member Ron Posthuma and Bellevue College Student Samri Tasew were dealing with that weight.

Ron Posthuma and Samri Tasew on the bus. ( photo by Troy Bonnes)

Ron Posthuma and Samri Tasew on the bus. ( photo by Troy Bonnes)

Equal Justice Jeanine Blue Lupton and Mark Pearson- On the Bus, Spring 2016

Anthony Ray Hinton was freed after spending 30 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery Alabama, helped secure Hinton's release. He has come out without bitterness, without anger.  

Community member and Pilgrimage musician Mark Pearson reflects with community member Jeanine Blue Lupton about HInton's conscious rejection of hatred for the people who  deliberately imprisoned him.  The Equal Justice Initiative was formed to change the American prison system. Hinton is one of more than 156 people exonerated or released from death row in the U.S. since 1973.

Jeanine was struck by a different moment from our trip. White privilege is a term many white people don't quite get. But during a discussion of whether our diverse group should go to a Trump rally, that concept became clear to many on the bus. 

Music is by Mark Pearson, Songman.

Nashville- Vichayapai, Copoloff, Tran, Michener, Raman and Halprin

The struggles for civil rights in America didn't happen by accident. The actions that led to the end of Jim Crow were planned and executed by people trained in direct action.

54 people are on a bus traveling across the American South. First Stop, Nashville, home of American Baptist College and Fisk University, two Historically Black Colleges where civil rights eraprotests and actions of the late 1950's and 1960's were planned and co-ordinated by students.

Community member Marissa Vichayapai, Bellevue College Student Chloe Copoloff, UW student and leader Simon Tran, Community member and Bellevue College High School teacher Luke Michener, Bellevue student Shreyas Raman  and Community member Mike Halprin talk about their experiences as the pilgrimage begins.

What's The Story of Your Name- Baker, Bell, Copoloff, Division, Huang, Mata, Raman, Tran and White - On the Bus, Spring 2016

52 folks are about to step onto a big bus in Nashville, Tennessee. We are on a civil rights pilgrimage together. Our goal is to better understand the struggles of the past and the present. 

Who are we? Well, one way to explore that is by answering the question, what is the story of your name?

Who's name?

Kira Baker, Alice Bell, Chloe Copoloff, Jarlin Division, Gigi Huang, Lauren Mata, Shreyas Raman, Simon Tran, Devon White

Resolve: On The Bus, Fall 2015

History doesn’t stay in the past.

The issues that drove an earlier generation to demand justice for all remain unresolved. 

I’m Cynthia Wanjiku along with Scott MacDonald, Michael, “Renaissance”Moynihan and Sade Britt.

We are part of a multi generational, multi-ethnic, multi gender group of 53 people from the Pacific Northwest and we are on a pilgrimage across the American south. 

We are riding a bus thru Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.

We are seeking the links in the chain that connect the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s to the ongoing quest for equal justice in the 21st century. 

Zellner University - On the Bus, Spring 2015

Bob Zellner is a civil rights foot soldier.  He marched with Dr. King, with Rosa Parks, with John Lewis.

Bob Zellner joined our group ostensibly to provide some historic perspective.  He brought humor, clarity and inspiration. 

On a cold day in Mississippi, the roads covered in sheet ice, we stayed off the bus. Instead, we gathered in a conference room of our hotel for a long, warm session of what we called Zellner University.



Over the years in the movement, Bob Zellner has been attacked, beaten into unconsciousness, had his life threatened, been arrested 18 times. But at 76, he is still marching and still singing.  As he told us one night, as he made his way to the front of a church, rather than linger in the back, “that’s the thing about the SNCC guys, we always want to be up front, where the action is”


Bob Zellner was the first white field secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.  SNCC was one of the most important grass roots groups of the civil rights movement. SNCC registered voters, led the freedom rides and helped organize the 1963 March on Washington. 


Zellner was born in the south and came from a long line of Methodist preachers and KKK members. During World War II, his father had an epiphany  while helping the Jewish underground alongside black gospel singers in the Soviet Union.  Returning home, he raised his family outside the Klan.  

Bob Zellner pushed even further, exploring the civil rights philosophy during his college years as the movement was emerging in Alabama and across the south. He joined SNCC in 1961.  Later, with his wife and fellow foot soldier Dorothy Zellner, he created GROW, an organization training rural whites and black in social justice organizing tactics.


He wrote a book about his life, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement,” in 2008.