Navigating history


Student views an exhibit at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. Courtesy of UTSA SLC

Heather Montoya

UTSA students return from 6th annual CRSJ Experience

UTSA students attended a Civil Rights and Social Justice Trip coordinated by the Student Leadership Center (SLC) just before the Spring 2018 semester. Students left for the trip on Jan. 2 and returned on Jan. 6.

The trip’s affordability and the opportunity to visit historic sites induced Jabrell Scott, junior communication major, to attend the trip. “I wanted to go on this trip because the cost of participating wasn’t that bad for students to visit three states in one week and having a place to stay in each state they went to,” Scott said. “In addition, I wanted to visit the historical sites that played a big role in the Civil Rights Movement.”

Students visited Little Rock Central High School and the Clinton School of Public Service in Arkansas. In Alabama, students explored Kelly Ingram Park, the 16th Street Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Institute. In Tennessee, students went to the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum; the Mason Temple, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last speech; the National Civil Rights Museum, built around the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated; the Stax Museum of American Soul Music; and Beale Street.

Scott’s most memorable experience on the trip was visiting the Lorraine Motel. “I would always read books about MLK, which had basic information about his life and where he was killed, but I never thought I would visit the motel where he was killed,” said Scott. “Even though I was born decades from that time, I was in shock that someone had so much hate for this man that they would end his life.”

CRSJ 2018 poses in front of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Courtesy of UTSA SLC

Eliot Howard, associate director of the SLC, helped plan and attended the trip himself. Although he has attended past trips, Howard continues to learn each time he visits the destinations.

“This year I was learning about Rosa Parks’ predecessors, other women in Birmingham (and various cities through the South), who were practicing that same civil disobedience of refusing to give up their seats and being arrested,” he said. “It was one of them whose Supreme Court case actually overturned the segregation of buses.”

Not only was the trip meant to teach students about the history of the civil rights and social justice movements, but it also aimed to teach them how to be leaders.

“During the whole week we were visiting historical sites, I realized that the world offers more, motivating me to go explore the world and see what else is out there that impacted our present and how I can help shape the future into a better world,” said Scott.

Howard hopes that students learn how to connect what they learned to their lives “so they are looking more in depth at the news and how that connects to their lives, their communities and the history of the social justice movement.”

Applicants must be full-time undergraduate sophomore, junior, senior or graduate students; be in good standing academically and financially with UTSA; and have a 2.5 or greater cumulative GPA.

For more information on the next Civil Rights and Social Justice Trip, visit the Student Leadership Center in person at the University Center UC 1.00.40 or online at http://www.

Students before a statute of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Kelly Ingram Park.
Courtesy of UTSA SLC