On the Road to Freedom: Understanding the Civil Rights Movement - SOLD OUT

Join Judge LaDoris Cordell (Ret.) on a carefully designed program which focuses on understanding the Civil Rights Movement, as we travel through Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama. Our program traces the history of this struggle, as it grew over time, through massive grassroots organization, a commitment to achieve racial equality through non-violence, brilliant leadership, and the sheer courage and determination of hundreds of thousands of participants. Travel to the sites of the movement, from Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge to Little Rock High School. Meet with many figures who were involved, such as 16th Street Baptist Church bombing survivor Dr. Rev. Carolyn McKinstry, Bloody Sunday foot soldier Annie Pearl Avery, and Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford.  Visit the newly opened Memorial for Peace and Social Justice in Montgomery, the first memorial to lynching victims in the United States. Tour the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. Meet with members of the Equal Justice Initiative and learn about the work that is being done today to fight racial injustices in the legal system. We’ll also explore the Mississippi Delta, tour Malaco Records and the B.B. King Museum, and enjoy local music and restaurants featuring southern specialties.  

Apr 7 - Apr 14, 2019  (8 Days)

$3,995 per person, double occupancy

For more Information

(415) 597-6720

Sunday, April 7

Independent arrivals in Jackson. Transfer to the Westin Jackson. Afternoon visit to the newly opened Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. This museum provides an honest and painful account of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, beginning with the back story to the civil rights period – the European slave trade. Evening welcome reception and dinner at the Westin Jackson Hotel. (D)

Monday, April 8

Our morning begins at the Medgar Evers Home Museum, where Evers lived and was later assassinated in 1963. Walk through the home, which has been restored to the way it looked in 1963. End the morning at Malaco Records, an American independent record label based in Jackson, that has been the home of various major blues and gospel acts. Stop by the Big Apple Inn, where we will meet with the owner, Geno Lee, whose unique delicacy, Pig’s Ear Sandwich, has attracted the likes of BB King and even President Obama.

Explore Farish Street with a local business owner, passing by the Collins Funeral Home, where a throng of 4,000 mourners marched after the death of Medgar Evers. Lunch at a local restaurant where, schedule permitting, we will be joined by Jackson Mayor Antar Lumumba. After lunch, meet with Dr. Charles Beady who runs the Mississippi Food Network working to eliminate poverty-related hunger in Mississippi. Enjoy a special dinner at Frank Jones Corner with a private performance by a local Blues musician. Westin Jackson Hotel (B,L,D)

Tuesday, April 9
Little Rock

Depart Jackson this morning for Little Rock, stopping by the BB King Museum. Continue to Baptist Town where Mary Hoover will prepare barbecue ribs before stopping in at Hoover’s Store and the Back in the Day Museum, owned by Sylvester and Mary Hoover. Tour the Back in the Day Museum, a community museum exploring the history of African-American culture in the Delta. Continue on to the nearby town of Money to see the remains of the Bryant’s Grocery, the site associated with the murder of black teenager Emmett Till.

End the day in Sumner at the Emmett Till Interpretive Center and meet with museum director, Patrick Weems where we will learn of the apology resolution written by the community. Enjoy dinner at Sumner’s Grille before continuing on to Little Rock and the Burgundy Hotel. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, April 10

Today begins with a visit to Little Rock High School, a national emblem of the often violent struggle over school desegregation. The crisis here forced the nation to enforce African-American civil rights in the face of massive southern defiance during the years following the Brown decision, a major triumph of the movement. Continue on to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center housed in a gleaming modern space overlooking the Arkansas River. Enjoy lunch in the beautiful restaurant at the center. Continue on to Memphis and check into the Hotel Madison before dinner at a local restaurant. Hotel Madison (B,L,D)

Thursday, April 11

Begin the morning at the Lorraine Motel, now the home of the National Civil Rights Museum. Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed at the motel on April 4, 1968, the day of his assassination. Enjoy lunch at the world famous Gus’s Fried Chicken. This afternoon, we will focus on Memphis’ music history with a special tour led by a professional Beale Street musician. End the day with a visit the Slave Haven Underground Railway house, where dark cellars, hidden passageways and trap doors were used by runaway slaves attempting to flee north to freedom. Dinner is at your leisure this evening. Hotel Madison (B,L)

Friday, April 12

This morning, travel to Birmingham and stop at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where a bomb killed four young girls as they prepared to sing in their choir on September 15, 1963. We have asked Carolyn McKinstry, who was 14 and inside the church when the bomb exploded, to join us on our visit. After lunch, continue on to Selma where we will meet with Michelle Browder, the founder of I AM MORE THAN..., a Montgomery-based non-profit serving young adults. Stop by the Slavery Museum for a conversation with Foot Soldier, Annie Pearl Avery. Continue to the Edmund Pettus Bridge where we will walk two by two in memory of those who were beaten while seeking the right to vote. Continue on to Montgomery and check into the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel. Dinner this evening is at your leisure. Renaissance Montgomery Hotel (B,L)

Saturday, April 13

Begin the morning with a short walk to the Rosa Parks Museum, where the civil rights movement truly found its footing in 1955. Continue on to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Parsonage where Martin Luther King Jr. lived as a pastor. End the morning at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit Civil Rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry. We will request a meeting with Lecia Brooks, Outreach Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Visit the nearby Civil Rights Memorial, designed by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer, Maya Lin. Enjoy lunch at Chris’ Hot Dogs which was founded on historic Dexter Street in 1917. After lunch visit the newly opened National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum, created by the Equal Justice Initiative. Enjoy a farewell dinner at the Central Restaurant. Renaissance Montgomery Hotel (B,L,D)

Sunday, April 14

Independent transfers to the airport for return flights home. (B)

*Itinerary is subject to change

$3,995 per person, double occupancy
$920 single supplement

Accommodations and meals as per itinerary; All sightseeing in an air-conditioned coach; Bottled water on the bus; All entrances and events as listed; Study Leader to accompany the group; Pre-departure materials and reading list; The services of a professional tour manager to accompany the group;  Welcome and Farewell receptions; Gratuities

Not Included:
Airfare to Jackson and back from Montgomery; Alcoholic drinks including wine and beer at included lunches and dinners; Excess luggage charges; Trip Insurance; Items of a purely personal nature


What to Expect

Please note that our itinerary involves some time driving from city to city, as well as a fair amount of walking around the sites including climbing up and down stairs. Some days have an early-morning start and include a full day’s schedule of activities, lectures and special events. Participants must be in good health and able to keep up with an active group. The temperatures in the region average in the 70's (°F) and can be slightly humid. This program has been carefully designed to be family-friendly. However, the program will be covering topics that include violence, and that may be difficult for children. Therefore, we recommend this program for children over the age of 11.

Throughout the trip we'll meet with several guest speakers, including:

  • Dr. Rev. Carolyn McKinstry, 16th Street Baptist Church bombing survivor, Bloody Sunday foot soldier Annie Pearl Avery, and Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford.  
  • Members of the Equal Justice Initiative on the work that is being done today to fight racial injustice.
  • Dr. Charles Beady to discuss the work the Mississippi Food Network is doing to fight poverty-related hunger and its correlation to racial issues in the south.
  • Patrick Weems, director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center.
Trip Educators
Judge Cordell (Ret.)
Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell (Ret.)
Study Leader LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, a 1974 graduate of Stanford Law School, was the first lawyer to open a law practice in East Palo Alto. In 1978, she was appointed Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Stanford Law School where she implemented a successful minority admissions program. In 1982, she was appointed to the Municipal Court of Santa Clara County. In 1988, Judge Cordell became the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court in northern California. In 2001, she retired from the bench and was appointed Vice Provost at Stanford University. From 2010-2015, she was the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose. Judge Cordell has been an on-camera legal analyst for CBS-5 television and a guest commentator on Court TV and a frequent moderator and contributor to Commonwealth Club programs.

The Commonwealth Club (CWC) has contracted with Distant Horizons (DH) to organize this tour.

A $1,000 per person deposit, along with a completed and signed Reservation Form, will reserve a place for participants on this program. The balance of the trip is due 90 days prior to departure and must be paid by check made out to Distant Horizons.

Cancellation and Refund Policy:
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $500 penalty
  • 90-30 days before departure: 50% of fare
  • 29-1 days before departure: No refund

The tour can also be cancelled due to low enrollment. Neither CWC nor DH accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased in conjunction with the tour.

We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415)597-6720.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance:
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance as coverage against a covered unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave trip while it is in progress. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed Travel Insurance Services website

Medical Information:
Participation in this program requires that you be in good health. It is essential that persons with any medical problems and related dietary restrictions make them known to us well before departure.

Itinerary Changes & Trip Delay:
This itinerary is based on information available at the time of printing (June 2018) and is subject to change. We reserve the right to change a program’s dates, staff, itineraries, or accommodations as conditions warrant. If a trip must be delayed, or the itinerary changed, due to bad weather, road conditions, transportation delays, airline schedules, government intervention, sickness or other contingency for which CWC or DH or its agents cannot make provision, the cost of delays or changes is not included.

Limitations of Liability:
CWC and DH its Owners, Agents, and Employees act only as the agent for any transportation carrier, hotel, ground operator, or other suppliers of services connected with this program (“other providers”), and the other providers are solely responsible and liable for providing their respective services. CWC and DH shall not be held liable for (A) any damage to, or loss of, property or injury to, or death of, persons occasioned directly or indirectly by an act or omission of any other provider, including but not limited to any defect in any aircraft, or vehicle operated or provided by such other provider, and (B) any loss or damage due to delay, cancellation, or disruption in any manner caused by the laws, regulations, acts or failures to act, demands, orders, or interpositions of any government or any subdivision or agent thereof, or by acts of God, strikes, fire, flood, war, rebellion, terrorism, insurrection, sickness, quarantine, epidemics, theft, or any other cause(s) beyond their control. The participant waives any claim against CWC/ DH for any such loss, damage, injury, or death. By registering for the trip, the participant certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical, or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants. CWC/DH shall not be liable for any air carrier’s cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable ticket to or from the departure city. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the traveler. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the passengers.

Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40