Four Huskers join a group of 100 Big Ten Conference student-athletes, coaches, administrators, conference staff and other key stakeholders for the inaugural Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery. Derrick Walker (men’s basketball), Sadio Fenner (men’s track and field), Micaylon Moore (men’s track and field) and executive associate athletic director — senior woman administrator Marquita Armstead will make the trip.
The journey to Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, will provide an immersive and educational experience for this in attendance of a key center of the civil rights movement. In addition to the Big Ten representatives, the group will also include student-athletes, coaches and administrators from the ACC and Pac-12 conferences.
The Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery is an example of the Big Ten Equality Coalition in action and was initially announced during Black History Month this past February. The group will participate in a variety of activities, including a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the 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,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “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 is scheduled to begin Friday night in Montgomery. Sheyann Webb-Christburg, author and eyewitness of the original Bloody Sunday attack, will serve as the keynote speaker of the event. There will also be a viewing of an episode of the documentary series “Eyes on the Prize.”
The trip continues Saturday in Selma at the First Baptist Church, the spot where hundreds of students coordinated by the Dallas County Voters League began a days’ long journey from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The group in attendance this weekend will then continue the trip with a march across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge before returning to Montgomery to visit a series of landmarks, museums and learning centers.
The group will visit the Interpretive Center at Alabama State University to learn about the impact that students had on the civil rights movement. They 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.
Attendees will hear from EJI Legacy Museum founder and social justice lawyer Bryan Stevenson on Saturday evening. They will then break into small groups to discuss the experience, which will be led by campus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion directors.
“I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity to go to Selma,” Michigan State track and field athlete Brooke Bogan said. “I believe that going to see things such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge will really bring a lot of things into perspective for me. I’m excited for the knowledge and further understanding I’ll gain from this trip.”
All member institutions have conducted a series of introductory virtual meetings prior to the trip to discuss the purpose and to prepare for the experience. Upon returning to campuses, the Big Ten will provide tools and opportunities for those who attended to share their experience with teammates and peers.
While not every university has yet published who is attending, here is who is who we know will go for the Big Ten member schools:
Illinois: Danielle Davis (softball) and Ayah Aldadah (cross country)
Iowa: Armando Bryson (men’s track and field), Logan Lee (football), Kaevon Merriweather (football), Amiya Jones (volleyball) and Manuela Lizarazu (women’s golf)
Maryland: Rainelle Jones (volleyball), Destiny Ward and Nyela Williams (women’s track and field), Cynthia Edmunds (Senior Associate Athletic Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Organizational Effectiveness), Dr. Yvette Rooks (head team physician) and Jada Anderson (gradate assistant)
Michigan: Mazi Smith (football), Jaedan Brown (women’s tennis), Briana Nelson (women’s track and field alumna) and Abigail Eiler (Assistant Athletic Director, Chief DEI Officer).
Michigan State: Mel Tucker (football coach), Dr. Ashley Baker (Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer), Brooke Bogan (women’s track and field), Spencer Brown (football), Maliq Carr (football) and Tre Mosley (football)
Nebraska: Derrick Walker (men’s basketball), Sadio Fenner (men’s track and field), Micaylon Moore (men’s track and field) and Marquita Armstead (executive associate athletic director — senior woman administrator)
Northwestern: Ben Forbes (men’s swimming and diving), DJ Huff (wrestling), Grace Huff (softball), Jasmine McWilliams (women’s basketball), Kenny Soares (football), Monique Holland (Deputy Director of Athletics/Chief of Staff) and Maria Sanchez (Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer)
Ohio State: Jaydan Wood (women’s track and field), Donovan Hewitt (men’s gymnastics), Brooke Shields (cheer), Nina LaFlore (women’s soccer) and Zed Key (men’s basketball)
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.