DOI / VISTA Team News

DOI/VISTAs Relive Historic Civil Rights March

by Kristy Bibb, Conservation Legacy Business Assistant
April 1, 2015


DOI/VISTAs Lindsay Lunsford, Kevin Blanchette and Pamela Segura commemorated the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery by taking part in the National Park Services’ (NPS) five day walking classroom. The Selma to Montgomery Historic Trail’s “Walking Classroom,” was an opportunity for youth and the members of the public to walk the 54 mile historic route that led to the eventual passage of the voting rights act of 1965. DOI/ VISTAs marched all five days sleeping in tents along the way and heard inspiration stories directly from the “foot soldiers” of the original march in 1965.

Lindsay Lunsford, a DOI/VISTA serving at the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site in Alabama participated in the march leading a team of Tuskegee University students to Montgomery. Kevin Blanchette, a DOI/VISTA serving at Groundwork Lawrence in Massachusetts, traveled all the way from Boston to Selma for the once in a lifetime opportunity.  Dr. King’s close colleague and instrumental civil rights leader, Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr shared his experience organizing the march and maintaining a non-violent approach during the movement with Kevin, which served as the highlight of his experience. Pamela Segura, a DOI/VISTA serving at Groundwork Hudson valley in New York also made the long journey South for the event. Reflecting on her experience, Pamela noted that  ‘the Walking Classroom helped place her work as a DOI/VISTA in a larger social, historical, and cultural narrative as her contributions to Groundwork Hudson Valley as a VISTA were undeniably tied to socio-political movements that came well before her.’ For her, “It was so wonderful and encouraging to see that so many people still care about acknowledging the past and using it to help construct a more just and harmonious future.”  

The Walking Classroom ended on its fifth day in Montgomery, Alabama in front of the State Capital where march participants and onlookers watched the daughters of Dr. King and George Wallace embrace one another. The event was a great way for DOI/VISTAs to spread awareness of the past struggles for civil rights and to come together and share hope for continued progress in the future.