Civil rights road trip highlights uncomfortable history

Those who want to experience civil rights history up close can take a four-day trip with Grand Haven-based Momentum Center this April.

The Cultural Immersion Experience: Civil Rights Road Trip Apr. 18 to 21 will explore significant places in America’s history. Participants will travel via bus from Grand Haven to Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala., with a stop in Memphis, Tenn.

The itinerary will include visits to key historical sites and museums such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Edmund Pettus bridge, and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The chartered bus will allow travelers to enjoy curated movies, videos and music.

'Be uncomfortable'

Although the trip is for everyone, it is especially geared toward “Individuals who really want to understand our history, who are willing to be uncomfortable” says Momentum Center Expiri-mentor Barbara Lee VanHorssen.

“We talk about what we’re experiencing, physically, emotionally, spiritually… about how are we changed when we go home,” she says.

The immersive journey will provide individuals with an education on the history of racism in America and the Black experience. The purpose of the trip is to learn about racial injustices with a commitment to anti-racism.

Experiencing local culture

The Momentum Center has provided cultural immersion trips in the past including China, Honduras, Egypt, Kenya and Tibet. 

“They are not vacations. They are not mission trips. They’re kind of the opposite of mission trips. It’s about what we have to learn from others,” VanHorssen says. “You need to spend time with people whose life experience is different from yours.”

The cultural immersion trips are experiences that enable people to see the lens through which they view the world and gain a deeper understanding of collective humanity. Due to COVID-19 restrictions for international travel, the Momentum Center’s civil rights trip provides a timely opportunity to travel domestically and have meaningful experiences, VanHorssen says.


For details and to pre-register, visit

The deadline to register is March 31. The cost of the trip ($760 for a double occupancy; $1060 for a single occupancy) includes travel, lodging, admission fees, and most meals. 

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot is required. If the trip is canceled because of COVID-19, a 100% refund will be issued.

The Momentum Center, which is headquartered in Grand Haven, is a grassroots movement to create a stigma-free community. It hosts community conversations and operates The Momentum Center for Social Engagement that addresses mental illness, addictions, and disabilities. The Momentum Center also houses the Momentum Café and operates Just Goods Gifts. It is the prime mover behind the (Anti) Racism Task Force.

Read more articles by Andrea Goodell.