Every year we walk the 54-mile historic route from Selma to Montgomery, retracing the steps of the original marchers in 1965 whose courage, perseverance and righteousness led to the Voting Rights Act.
On the five-year anniversaries, we join the Civil Rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as they organize a large commemorative event that lasts a week and includes evening mass meetings along with the day's walking. The next 5-year commemoration is in 2020.
Our Peace Pilgrimages are more humble, usually around a dozen or so people walking Highway 80 and reflecting on race in America. We have been doing this "off-years" walk for about 15 years. For the last two years, we have been a group of 8. The walk starts with the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, the largest annual Civil Rights gathering in the country, commemorating the "Bloody Sunday" event that shocked the nation. Beginning in 2019, we end the Pilgrimage in Montgomery at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, i.e., the Lynching Memorial. This memorial is the work of the Equal Justice Initiative [eji.org], a nonprofit legal organization that seeks to educate by showing the direct connection between slavery and today's mass incarceration, and between lynching and today's death penalty.
It was a sacred journey that started with more than 100,000 descending on Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Bridge Crossing. On the way we walked with hundreds of people young and old, including some of the original marchers, were hosted in grand style by Macedonia Church in Montgomery and felt the joy of being part of something much bigger than ourselves.
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Here are pictures from the Peace Walk from Asheville, NC to Oak Ridge, TN, set to music. The interlude with no music is Azule, promoting peace through community, art, and craft near Hot Springs, NC. We ended at Y-12, the nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, and joined our voices with the 122 nations who voted to ban nuclear weapons in July. Thank you to those countries and to all who work for a work without nuclear.
“The time has come.
The time has come when we can no longer contain the urge to do something, but rush out of our houses.
The time has come to look up to heaven, prostrate ourselves to earth, to voice our grief, and to share it with everyone.”
The Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii,
Founder of Nipponzan Myohoji
We marked the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a peace walk from Asheville, NC to Oak Ridge, TN, from July 28 to August 6. It was in Oak Ridge at the Y-12 Plant where the uranium for the Hiroshima bomb was enriched, and it is at Y-12 today where the continued manufacture of these weapons of mass destruction has been normalized, just another day on the job. We walk to awaken ourselves and everyone to this madness.