Big Ten News: One Hundred Big Ten Conference Student-Athletes, Coaches, Administrators, and Other Stakeholders to Travel to Alabama

July 13, 2022

“Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery” Latest Example of Big Ten Equality Coalition in Action

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference today announced that a group comprised of 100 student-athletes, coaches, administrators, conference staff, and other key stakeholders from across the conference participate in the Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery, July 15-17, 2022. 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 Big Ten Conference initially announced this experience during Black History Month 2022 and is another example of the Big Ten Equality Coalition in action. The group, which will also include student-athletes, coaches, and administrators from the ACC and Pac-12, will participate in a variety of activities including marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the 1965 Bloody Sunday attack.

“We established the Big Life Series to help further prepare our student-athletes to impact the world beyond their athletic careers,” said Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren. “Our trip to Selma and Montgomery is a first in a series of trips that our student-athletes, administrators, and members of the Big Ten Equality Coalition will take to inspire a meaningful dialogue about racial, social, religious, and cultural injustices in our nation. Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery will empower our Big Ten Conference family to use their voices to drive change in their respective communities.”

The trip will begin Friday night in Montgomery with Sheyann Webb-Christburg, author and eyewitness of the original Bloody Sunday attack, serving as the keynote speaker and a viewing of an episode of the documentary series “Eyes on the Prize.” The trip continues Saturday in Selma at the First Baptist Church, where hundreds of students coordinated by the Dallas County Voters League began their days’ long journey from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The trip continues with a march across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge before the group returns to Montgomery to visit a series of landmarks, museums, and learning centers.

In Montgomery, the group will visit the Interpretive Center at Alabama State University, a historically black university (HBCU), to learn more about the profound impact that students had on the civil rights movement. The group will also visit the Civil Rights Memorial Center, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and the award-winning Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) Legacy Museum, which provides a comprehensive overview of America’s history of racial injustice – from enslavement to mass incarceration.

On Saturday evening, trip attendees will hear from EJI Legacy Museum founder and social justice lawyer Bryan Stevenson before forming small groups to discuss their experiences. The small group debrief sessions will be led by campus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion directors.

All member institutions will have conducted a series of introductory virtual meetings prior to traveling to Alabama to discuss the purpose of the trip and to prepare for their experience. Upon returning to campus after the trip, the Big Ten Conference will provide tools and opportunities for each attendee to convey their experiences about the tripto their peers.

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, 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. Big Life Series one of the latest examples of the Big Ten Equality Coalition in action.

Big Ten Conference (bigten.org) is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching, and public service. Founded in 1896, Big Ten Conference has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness, and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten Conference institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. Big Ten Conference sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013.

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