54 Strong: A Civil Rights Pilgrimage

  • Hosted by , Jason Gilmore, Lauren Mata and Jarlin de Leon

A group of 54 people from Utah State University, as well as the University of Washington and Bellevue College, are heading to the South on a Civil Rights pilgrimage. UPR wants to share their experience with you. For more information behind this series, click here

The project, in cooperation with the University of Washington and Bellevue College, is made possible in part by our members, the USU Access and Diversity Center and the USU diversity council - cultivating diversity of thought and culture, and by serving the public through learning, discovery and engagement. 

54 Strong: Women, Music and Civil Rights

Mar 29, 2016

On the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, our group of 54 Strong followed a light all the way to Marion, Alabama to learn more about the roles and power of women in the music of the Civil Rights Movement. In that small southern town, we had the privilege of meeting up with Billie Jean Young -- famed actor, writer and McCarther Fellow who enlightened our group on why music was so central to the success of the Civil Rights Movement.


On a cold night in late March of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found himself in a not so unfamiliar situation, running from the Klan. Earlier in the evening he had delivered a speech at a mass meeting in Greensboro, Alabama and was on his way back to Selma when he received the news that cars filled with armed men were on the lookout for him. There was also news that several churches had been burned to the ground. King quickly turned to an old ally, Mrs. Theresa Burroughs, for a safe house where he could weather the storm. With little thought, Mrs. Burroughs and her family, obliged.


In order to understand the diverse impacts that women had on the Civil Rights Movement, we need not look further than Birmingham, Alabama. In the early 1960s, Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the south and was a place where many civil rights organizers feared. In 1963, however, Birmingham would become the epicenter of the ongoing civil rights movement.

Jason Gilmore

When we think of the women of the Civil Rights Movement one powerful woman comes to mind. Rosa Parks. And rightfully so. Her iconic image, sitting alone on a bus, refusing to give up her seat to a white man, inspired a movement. But there are so many other women who have dedicated themselves to the causes of civil rights, not only in the 1950s and 60s, but still today.

A Group of "54 Strong" To Explore U.S. South

Mar 1, 2016
Jason Gilmore

A group of 54 people is heading to the South on a Civil Rights pilgrimage. They come from Utah State University, Washington University and Bellevue College and call themselves 54 Strong.