Local church returns from Civil Rights pilgrimage, working to bring monument to Tallahassee

Published: Feb. 25, 2019 at 11:03 PM EST
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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News

February 25, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- More than two dozen members of St. John's Episcopal Church have returned from a Civil Rights pilgrimage, where they made several stops in locations across Alabama that were important to the 1960s movement.

High school sophomores Emilia Minton and Abby Schnittker were two of 17 students in the youth ministry to take the trip, stopping in Selma and Montgomery.

"This pilgrimage really ignited something in me," Minton told WCTV's Katie Kaplan.

"It was a huge change from what I had always heard to being there," Schnittker added.

Together, the group visited the site of the conflict of Bloody Sunday and crossed over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They also visited the Rosa Parks Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

"I think it's really important to engage our young people in this conversation so they see it not from some far off distant conversation or historical perspective,"said Reverend Kathleen Walker, the Associate Priest at St. John's.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is also known informally as the National Lynching Museum and has a monument that memorializes four men who were hanged in the Tallahassee area.

"When we reached Leon County, all of us kind of stopped and we were in shock and awe," Schnittker remembered.

The church has worked with other local churches, schools and organizations to bring a part of the monument to Tallahassee as a permanent memorial. The steel replica could be placed near the old jail at Cascades Park.

"To commemorate the lives of those people who were lynched," said Rev. Walker. "So, there's a lot of work to be done, but we're getting closer."

The church has been working on the effort for about a year.

"Leaving those memorials, it was really hard on my heart and it's so horrifying to see what other humans can do to other humans when we're all equal," Minton said.

For the youths involved, the experience served as a lifelong lesson in the work of justice, reconciliation and peace.

Rev. Kathleen said the effort to bring the memorial back to Tallahassee has probably another year to go. The coalition meets roughly once a month.

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