Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Professional athletes and sports executives pose with members of Congress and other civil rights tour participants March 4, 2018, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. RISE partnered with the Faith & Politics Institute for the trip.


RISE led a group of players and executives from the NFL and WNBA on a civil rights pilgrimage March 2 to 4, 2018, in Alabama.

The trip was run in partnership with the Faith & Politics Institute and provided participants opportunities to visit historic sites, interact with members of Congress and hear from activists and key figures of the Civil Rights Movement.

Seven players and their families joined RISE board members Scott Pioli, Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager; Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner; and Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, and RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson on the trip.

They RISE participants joined a bipartisan delegation of 30 members of Congress led by the Faith & Politics Institute and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

The pilgrimage focused on the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and allowed participants to explore the places that defined King’s legacy of nonviolence, equality and unity. Highlights included visits to Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The trip concluded with a march across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, commemorating the famous civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 referred to as “Bloody Sunday,” where Lewis and other nonviolent protesters were beaten by police.