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#PursuingProgress – A History and Vision of the Alabama Pilgrimage

black, slaves, hands, alabama,

History

In April 2018, the GLIDE Center for Social Justice led a group of 85 people on a pilgrimage to the opening of the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

This journey was more than a visit; it was an awakening, deeply affecting each participant with our nation’s history of racial injustice.The images we saw and the stories we heard not only agitated us but summoned us to ask hard questions. Motivated by this experience, we returned home to San Francisco to deepen our collective justice.

This year, we are embarking on our fifth Pilgrimage to Alabama, a deliberate move toward healing the deep-seated wounds of racism and economic inequality, and specifically, examining their impacts on healthcare and mass incarceration.

This journey unites practitioners from UCSF, participants in GLIDE’s Men in Progress program, and members of the GLIDE community. It aims to expand our understanding of Black history, foster empathy across diverse lived experiences, and empower us to use our positions of influence responsibly to drive meaningful change.

Follow along with us:

You can follow this journey through our social media channels (@GLIDEsf) using the hashtag #PursuingProgress as we head out of SFO on Saturday, February 17. We will send updates through our GLIDE enews. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here (scroll down to the signup box at the bottom).

Finally, we will produce a five-minute video on this transformational work, #PursuingProgress, which will debut in the spring of 2024.

Vision

Our history and our future are so intertwined, it is worth considering that in many places around the country Black History is currently under attack. Books that shed light on our collective pasts are being removed from libraries.

Academic classes that examine our history and its role in our current society are being canceled, de-funded and re–written. Teachers can be fired for sharing some of our most critical stories.

CBS recently dedicated a stand-alone page to expose current instances of disturbing racism happening around our country. And the premier of Ava Duverney’s movie Origin, a spectacular and loving interpretation of the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, has been shared and amplified across cultures and around the world.

The Hebrew word תשובה / teshuva, which is often translated as ‘repentance’ appears in daily and High Holy Day liturgy. A better translation of the word would be ‘to make amends.’ As Americans, we have never made teshuva for slavery on our soil. We’ve never had a process of Truth and Reconciliation as South Africa did after Apartheid. This is a poignant invitation to repair or heal America as we know it today.

We view the opening of this Legacy Museum and Memorial and GLIDE’s recurring Pilgrimages as important steps in an American Teshuva Project. It is a journey of truth-telling that we must engage in if we are ever to heal the festering wounds of slavery.

Part of this enduring Teshuva work necessitates a constant and persistent pursuit of equity and fairness in the American healthcare and criminal justice system.

The journey to Alabama strikes at the heart of our work at GLIDE – radical truth telling, unconditional love, systems change, and the striving of a more equal, just world. As a member of the GLIDE community, you are an essential part of that work. We look forward to sharing this experience with you.

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