Friday, July 31, 2015

UTSA students to participate in 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act

civil rights trip

CaShonda Henderson and Brianna McCormick during UTSA Civil Rights Exploration Trip.

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(July 1, 2014) -- This week, three UTSA students will travel to Washington D.C. to attend a special day-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education will host the event.

Brianna McCormick, a junior multi-disciplinary studies major, CaShonda Henderson, a senior biology major, and Claudia Sanchez, a graduate student in Political Science, will join college students from across the country, civil rights professionals, seasoned grassroots civil rights leaders, journalists and elected leaders at the special event.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Henderson. "I know this experience will add fuel to my everyday fight for civil rights and social justice. I hope to learn from the personal stories of the activists attending this trip, and to use their examples as tools through which to educate myself and others."

The students will also interact with senior Obama Administration officials and more than half a dozen of the original Freedom Riders, activists who spearheaded the 1960s Freedom Rides. The Freedom Rides aimed to eliminate racial segregation in interstate transportation.

"I look forward to hearing the stories of what the civil rights activists of the 1960s went through to pave the way for where we as a society are today," said McCormick. "I come from a parent and family that grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, and I have an aunt and two uncles who actively participated in it. Being able to gain a deeper understanding about what they went through and relate that to my own story is an opportunity and experience for which I'm grateful."

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education put out a call to hundreds of universities looking for up-and-coming student civil rights activists and leaders, student artists and student filmmakers.

McCormick, Henderson and Sanchez were chosen to take part in the event by a national selection committee from among thousands of applicants because of their dedication to civil rights leadership, their community leadership experience and their participation in UTSA's annual Civil Rights Exploration Trips.

"I'm very glad that these students will represent UTSA for this special and important commemoration," said Yvonne Peña, assistant dean of students and director of the UTSA Student Leadership Center, which hosts the Civil Rights Exploration Trip. "They are remarkable leaders in the community, and their passion for social justice, service and civil rights is inspiring."

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, enacted into law by the 88th U.S. Congress, outlawed discrimination base on race, color, religion, sex or national origin in several areas including housing, employment and education. It legally ended racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and public accommodations and also ended unequal application of voter registration requirements.


For more information about the UTSA Student Leadership Center, visit To learn more about the UTSA Civil Rights Exploration Trip, visit or contact the Student Leadership Center at 210-458-7967 or visit University Center Room 2.01.04.

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