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Sojourn’s vision is to inspire high school students across America to become successful and engaged citizens and community leaders who promote social justice through nonviolent principles.

  Students engaged in their lesson in Selma, AL 


Sojourn to the Past brings the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement vividly to life for 11th and 12th grade students. The goal of the program is to develop communication and advocacy skills that better enable students to promote awareness of social justice in their community, and to create a more civil society where diversity is embraced, injustice is spoken out against, and all people are treated with dignity and respect.

Through innovative and experiential teaching and learning methods, the Sojourn program empowers student to pursue personal success and become a new generation of inspired and creative community leaders.

Sojourn to the Past accomplishes this important mission through:

In School/Community Activities:

Sojourn annually reaches tens of thousands of youth and adults across the country with its interactive presentations at school assemblies and in community meetings, mirroring the lessons taught on Sojourn’s ten-day academic immersion journeys and the relationship of those lessons to current human rights issues and conditions. The curriculum elucidated in these presentations is not found in any textbook. To date, the mobile classroom presentations have reached over 350,000 youth and adults.

Teaching Through the Lens of the Civil Rights Movement:

Students participating in Sojourn to the Past travel for ten days in a moving classroom experience through five states in the American South. History comes to life for them in many of the crucial sites where civil rights history was made. They meet personally with veterans of the Civil Rights Movement who, like the students, were young when they took up the cause for social change. These foot soldiers share with the students their inspiring experiences as leaders and advocates for human rights fostering an understanding that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.

The Sojourn program combines five principle approaches to interpret the living history lessons: use of primary and secondary source materials including books, speech texts, and documentary footage; oral presentations and meetings with veterans of the Civil Rights Movement; on-site instruction at over twenty historical sites and museums; rigorous analysis and discussion; and the integration of music, art and poetry as an important strategy for teaching the meaning and historical lessons of the Movement.

Post-Journey Application and Follow-up:

On the journeys, students design direct action plans for implementation in their schools and communities upon their return so they can carry forward the lessons they learned during their Sojourn experience. Many wish to pursue additional study in the areas of history and human rights and are guided by teachers to other resources including workshops, lectures, and seminars.

Collectively, Sojourn alumni demonstrate an increased sense of empowerment to affect change and help others; an increased belief in their capability to conduct rigorous academic work; an increased commitment to community service and civic responsibility; an increase in student activism in schools to promote nonviolence and awareness of social injustices; a heightened understanding of America’s diverse cultures and readiness to accept, celebrate, and defend differences; and an increase in the number of students pursuing careers in social justice.

Not only are your students prepared for and open to my life lessons, they are compassionate, considerate and dedicated to making change in our country. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of young people and thank you for helping change our country.
-Congressman John Lewis, Member of the Sojourn National Advisory Committee

Civil Rights Resource Center