Civil Rights Immersion

Travel to the heart of the Civil Rights Movement

Join law professor emeritus Robert Bickel and three veterans of the Civil Rights Movement to personally explore the direct action campaign in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma.

Retrace the first footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who began America’s largest and longest Voting Rights March in 1965 at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Personally discuss every aspect of the Movement with Rip Patton, a veteran of the original 1960 sit-ins and the 1961 Freedom Rides. Hear personally Janice Kelsey’s first-hand experiences with Dr. King, James Bevel and others who awakened America to the iconic protests of the Birmingham Movement.

Our deluxe charter bus trip, will allow us, on our way to Montgomery, to view original news footage of the events that took place at the sites we will visit.  During our stay at our central Montgomery hotel, we will begin a journey by standing in a former slave pen where slaves were stockaded during the height of the slave trade in 1847-1860, and then trace (with our Movement veterans) the cultural, political and legal origins of  “Jim Crow” segregation, from 1896-1954, and all of the major sites of the Movement from 1955 – 1965 in Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma — leading to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Dates: May 14-19, 2018

Charter bus will depart from St. Petersburg, FL in the early morning.

Trip includes: hotel accommodations, breakfast at the hotel, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, all site and museum entrance fees, and transportation from St. Pete to Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham on our tour bus.

Accommodations: Your hotel reservations will be arranged for you. For information on the hotel, you can see the Hampton Inn Downtown Montgomery.

$1,699 per person double occupancy (must use promo code ‘double’) or $1,899 single occupancy

Register Here!

This is an exclusive offering to the League of Women Voters and space is limited to 34 participants.  Reservations cannot be cancelled, however, they can be transferred to a fellow League member.

Questions? Contact Julia Sharp Event and Travel Coordinator at or 703-489- 8079

You can also contact your trip hosts, Marty and Maura Sullivan, at or 407-247-4277. They’re going!

View detailed itinerary


DAY 1: Leave Florida by Charter Bus for Montgomery. During travel, we will view documentary film that includes original news footage and narration of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the beginning of Dr. King’s leadership; the origins of mass protest (exemplified by the 1960 “sit-ins” and the 1961 Freedom Rides); and the historic voter registration watershed struggle in Selma. Arriving in Montgomery, we will check in at our Hotel and participants can enjoy dinner on your own. [A list of restaurants within walking distance will be supplied].

DAY 2: Breakfast on your own at our hotel

9:00 AM – 12:45 PM: We will begin the day with a narrative on the early American History of the slave trade in Montgomery, and visit Hayneville and Lowndesboro as original villages of the “King Cotton Culture” and examples of the exploitation of slavery and its influence on the legacy of the struggle for Civil Rights in the 20th Century. [Lunch will be included in our morning program]

1:15 PM – 3:45 PM: An extensive tour via our bus of Montgomery Movement sites from 1955 – 1961, narrated by Randall Williams, Rip Patton, and Professor Bickel.

4:00 PM: Visitation of the Rosa Parks Museum.

[At the end of the afternoon, we will have examined the willingness of Movement leaders to challenge the city’s segregation laws by first employing negotiation, and then the need to actively protest unjust law, including the basis for economic boycott of the City’s segregated buses, and will begin to examine the relevance of the Montgomery Movement to the issues that we face today].

6:00 PM: Dinner on your own.

DAY 3 Breakfast on your own at our hotel

9:00 AM: Board our bus for travel to Birmingham and an all-day experience in the politics and violence of both private groups and law enforcement to stop the Movement. The Birmingham Movement, including the city’s fracture into two separate governments, revealed to the nation the issue of segregation, and racial bias as unacceptable in an American democracy. [During drive time to Birmingham, we will view original narrated news footage of the Birmingham Movement].

10:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Visitation of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Kelly Ingram Park, and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The Institute was founded to present the harsh truth of Birmingham’s culture of judicially enforced racial segregation and violent resistance to desegregation – in a way that reveals the redemptive lessons of the civil rights struggle as we currently seek to sustain and advance human rights in our social, political and legal institutions.

2:30 PM – 4:15: PM: Visitation of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and an Interview of Ms. Kelsey by Professor Bickel with Q & A.

4:30 PM:Board bus for Montgomery.

6:00 PM: Dinner on your own in Montgomery.

DAY 4: Breakfast on your own at our hotel.

9:00 AM: Program at The Equal Justice Initiative. Directed by acclaimed social advocate Bryan Stevenson, EJI is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment; the excessive sentences of children); and other human rights in the criminal justice system. Visitation of the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice: “From enslavement to mass incarceration.”

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM: Lunch on your own at the Commerce Cafe

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM: The Southern Poverty Law Center: Co-founded in 1971 by Morris Dees (Recipient of the ABA Medal) and Joseph Levin, Jr., the Southern Poverty Law Center is one of the nation’s most recognized civil rights law firms. SPLC lawyers utilize ongoing civil actions seeking to hold hate groups accountable for their activities. SPLC also directs its own juvenile justice projects, cases involving the rights of immigrant workers, and other projects. We will also experience entering our names on the iconic “Wall of Tolerance” and visit The National Civil Rights Memorial designed by the acclaimed artist Maya Lin, who also designed The Vietnam Wall.

6:00 PM: Dinner on your own [A list of Restaurants and Cuisines will be provided.]

DAY 5: Breakfast on your own at our hotel

9:30 AM: Board our bus and travel to Selma, the site of the largest, and longest voting rights march in American History, made possible by the Movement’s commitment to make the right to vote the most important cause following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. We will stop at the Dallas County Courthouse where teachers led the first mass attempt to register to vote, and were met by Sheriff Jim Clark, who barred them from registering over the passionate challenge of Rev. C.T. Vivian. Sheriff Clark’s violent attacks on marchers on “Bloody Sunday” awakened the nation to the issue of the denial of voting rights. The second march, made possible by Judge Frank Johnson Jr.’s decision in the case of Williams v. Wallace declared the Selma march to be a compelling exercise of the First Amendment. Following the end of the 52 mile march to Montgomery, President Johnson submitted the Voting Rights Act to Congress, and signed the Act into law on August 6, 1965. We will walk the first stage of the march, across the imposing Edmund Pettus Bridge, so that we can retrace the steps of those who made the Voting Rights Act possible. Return to Montgomery.

1:00 PM: Afternoon on your own

6:00 PM: Historic Dinner with Veterans of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and other aspects of the Montgomery Movement.

DAY 6: Breakfast on your own at our hotel

9:30 AM: Board bus with all luggage for return to Florida: During a part of our drive time we will view and discuss the acclaimed HBO documentary “Triangle: Remembering the Fire” . — the story of the shocking death of more than 130 female garment workers at the Triangle Garment Factory in Greenwich Village, New York, and the truth that this film reveals about the oppression of female workers at the same time that racial segregation defined the American South. The compelling story of these women gives us a look at the later ongoing struggle for worker solidarity, safe working conditions, decent wages, and the current issues of unequal treatment, including sexual harassment and economic discrimination against women in the workplace. It is this common cause that reveals the very special bond between women and minorities as they both seek to challenge American political, social, commercial, and legal institutions to make real the promise of equal opportunity and human dignity. Q & A with Professor Bickel on this issue “The issue was never dollars… the issue was dignity. The issue was self-worth. The issue was the sacredness of human personality. That’s the hopeful end result and concern of both law and movement. In fact, most of the great laws on the books for common people were based upon the worth of mankind. If we don’t start there, then
the law becomes unworthy.” Rev. C.T. Vivian, Interview with Professor Bickel in Tampa, Florida, 2007

Academic Facilitators: (brief bios)
Professor Robert Bickel: Professor Bickel earned his J.D. Degree, with highest honors, from Florida State University in 1968, and then entered the Justice Department’s Honors Program. He has taught Constitutional Law and Civil Rights History for more than 35 years. Professor Bickel is currently collaborating with the Newseum Institute in Washington DC on appellate cases that challenged segregation and the direct action campaign for civil rights, including voting rights.
Rip Patton (Group discussion facilitator and mentor): Rip Patton was a 21-year- old music major at Tennessee State University when he joined the Nashville Movement. He joined the Freedom Rides in 1961 and was in the first group to make it from Montgomery to Jackson, Mississippi, where his group was arrested for entering a “white only” Greyhound Bus Station waiting room. His group also included John Lewis. He went to Parchman Penitentiary for this simple act of peaceful protest. He will accompany us throughout the travel course to interact with participants individually and collectively.
Randall Williams: Randall Williams knew every central figure in the Montgomery Movement. He is an expert on American History from slavery to the Movement events in Montgomery between 1955 and 1965, and will help us examine how the Montgomery Movement played out every aspect of southern state resistance to social equality.
Janice Kelsey: Janice Kelsey was introduced to her first “mass meeting” in the Birmingham Movement in 1963, and remembers personally being in the audience and hearing Martin Luther King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. Ralph Abernathy as they described the Birmingham part of the direct action campaign. She has special memories of May 2, 1963 – the first mass march in the “children’s campaign.” She remembers that from her jail cell, she could see the now well-documented use of fire hoses and attack
dogs (under the direction of police commissioner “Bull” Connor).

Reflections and full bios of trip leaders.

Register Here!

This is an exclusive offering to the League of Women Voters and space is limited to 34 participants.  Reservations cannot be cancelled, however, they can be transferred to a fellow League member.

Questions? Contact Julia Sharp Event and Travel Coordinator at or 703-489- 8079

You can also contact your trip hosts, Marty and Maura Sullivan, at or 407-247-4277. They’re going!

P.O. Box 10884 Tallahassee, FL 32302-2884
Telephone: (850) 224-2545 | Fax: (850) 222-4485

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