IOWA CITY, Iowa – Five University of Iowa student-athletes are set to travel to Selma, Alabama, as part of the Big Ten Equality Coalition. The conference announced that for the second consecutive year a group comprised of 100 student-athletes, coaches, administrators, conference staff, and other key stakeholders from across the conference will participate in the Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery, July 14-16. The trip is a journey to Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, for an immersive and educational experience at a key center of the civil rights movement.
The five Hawkeye student-athletes attending are Harper Dunne (field hockey), Alli Bookin-Nosbisch (track & field), MJ McNary (field hockey), Myah Lugar (rowing) and Leif Schroder (wrestling).
The group, which will also feature participants from a handful of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), including Florida A&M University, Howard University and North Carolina A&T University will participate in a variety of activities, including marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the 1965 Bloody Sunday attack.
The trip begins on Friday, July 14, with visits to several local civil rights museums, including the Rosa Parks Museum, Freedom Riders Museum and Montgomery Interpretive Center, located on the campus of Alabama State University.
Friday evening will include keynote speaker and civil rights activist Sheyann Webb-Christburg, known as the “smallest freedom fighter.” The evening will conclude with an empowering and educational panel featuring young civil rights leaders representing the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU.
The event continues Saturday, July 15 with a bus trip to Selma and a community service project. Attendees will pack back-to-school backpacks with school supplies and balls provided by Wilson Sporting Goods to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
This will be followed with a visit to the First Baptist Church, the site where the Dallas County Voters League mobilized hundreds of students to begin their landmark civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Attendees will hear from several local speakers including Mayor James Perkins Jr., Lynda Blackmon Lowery and Warren Billy Young.
Participants in this year’s “Big Life Series” will then make their own walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge before the group returns to Montgomery. Community activist Doris Dozier Crenshaw will address the group at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The final event on Saturday will be a visit to the award-winning Legacy Museum, which provides an immersive experience from enslavement to mass incarceration.
The Big Ten Equality Coalition features student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, chancellors, presidents, and other members of the Big Ten Conference family from all 14 member institutions. It has a stated goal of seeking tangible ways to combat racism and hate around the world, while also empowering student-athletes to express their rights to free speech and peaceful protest actively and constructively. Following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, then-Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren wrote an open letter on June 1, 2020, officially announcing the formation of the Equality Coalition and the United States Library of Congress included the letter in its historic collection. An early product of the Equality Coalition was the creation of the Big Ten Voter Registration Initiative. The nonpartisan, conference-wide collaboration encourages student-athletes to take part in the electoral process and is led by a Voter Registration Committee that includes representatives from all 14 Big Ten Conference member institutions. The Big Life Series is one of the signature examples of the Big Ten Equality Coalition in action.