Foot Soldier's Journey (FSJ), Inc., believes that in a socially just society, every human being must be treated with equality. The struggle is ever-evolving from Wall Street to Main Street, from the internet to our communities and schools, and from the halls of Congress to local governments. FSJ's mission is fully committed to bringing about real, long-term, societal change.
To achieve this noble, strategic mission, we all must unite regarding key issues such as voting rights and voter registration, freedom of speech, peaceful civil protest, community activism, and more. Our youth of today are seeking opportunities to engage in causes like these that are bigger than themselves to help move our great country to be a more just society. Our mission is founded on the principle of, "the lessons of the past must be shared with the youth of today".
Today they are called the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement. Then, they were students, seamstresses, cooks, maids, sanitation workers, porters, housewives and laborers who filled in the civil rights battleground. They are the countless, nameless, faceless agents of change for equality and justice.
Here at Foot Soldiers Journey Inc., we are dedicated to struggle to eliminate racism. Narrowly defined, Racism is a sanctuary for the stupid and ignorant. It is cloaked in the bosom of inequality, privilege, oppression, and the suffering of one group at the hands of another group. Racism seeks to divide and destroy. It is the enemy of justice and goodwill.
We need to challenge the old racist and segregation strategy where ever we find it: That old strategy is to divide and concur. Divide by hate, race, fear, and propaganda and lies.
All of you have within you the light of hope and that light of freedom for everyone. Shine that light on the scourage of racism. You need to let that light shine all over YOUR CITY, the State of Illinois, America, and all over THE WORLD. Go where the problems are and March into a Tomorrow of hope.
You need to challenge the old racist and segregation strategy where ever you find it. That old strategy is to divide and concur. Divide by hate, race, fear, and propaganda and lies.
We can begin our fight by first, realizing that Mass Incarceration IS about race. We know that blacks are disproportionally incarcerated. Our criminal Justice System is notorious for its institutionalized racial bias. Alternatives for incarceration for nonviolent crimes should not be a partisan issue. We must create a system whereby the mistakes of our youth do not prohibit them from using the BALLOT BOX, or condemn them for life. Ladies and gentlemen, the responsibility is ours.
We can encourage the end to Wars: It has been said that the cost of the Middle Eastern war reached 80 Billion Dollars- enough to double the salary of every teacher in America. With what it cost to keep people in prison, we could eliminate TUITION at every college in America.
We can demand that True History be taught in all our schools. Today, young men and women who don’t know where they came from are allowing a corrupt system to determine where they are going. It’s called Systemic failure. Follow your Student Advocates for one day.
Stop wasting time. Go where the problems are! If your special interest leads you on a political path take that path and improve things along the way. If your personal path leads you to be for, or against the death penalty, gun control, our immigration policy, or abortion, take that path, and using your zeal, and commitment toward justice, make things better for everyone. Never sit and let the creek of lackadaisical waters of racism run under your feet.
Produce Educational Forums and join like-minded organizations. If you can’t find one develop your own Action Group to address racial/cultural prejudice, and reconciliation.
We can stop banning books, and start writing reading, and discussing them, thereby gaining much needed wisdom.
We can put up our best fight to make education a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT for every American. Doing so, will make America less dummier, and better educated, therefore making America a better place for all.
We can call upon our many elected officials, our community leaders, as well as our City Councils to overcome their biases so that they can take a greater stand against racism and hatred. Their silence creates a vacuum in which rumors spread, victims feel ignored, and perpetrators find tacit acceptance.
There are going to be tough times ahead. Society is going to require all of our efforts in order to navigate properly. Get busy.
Thomas Armstrong III
In the Segregated Deep South, when lynching, Klansmen and Jim Crow laws ruled, there stood a line of foot soldiers ready to sacrifice their lives for the right to vote, to enter rooms marked ‘White Only,’ and to live with simple dignity. They were called Freedom Riders, and Thomas M. Armstrong III was one of them. He was at the forefront of early protests led by black Southerners for voting rights and equal public accommodations from 1958-1963, resulting in threats that had him running for his life.
Born in Silver Creek, Mississippi, Thomas Armstrong was 14 in 1955—the same year another African-American 14-year-old, Emmett Till, was kidnapped, tortured, and killed in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman. Three years later, as a student at Tougaloo College, he became involved in the civil rights movement.
He helped organize black Mississippians to register to vote, despite threats on his life. And in 1961 he and three other Tougaloo students took part in the Freedom Rides, a campaign to integrate interstate buses. Though they were arrested in a whites-only waiting room before they could even board their Trailways bus to New Orleans, the so-called Tougaloo Four inspired dozens of others to make the dangerous trips.
Mr. Armstrong moved to Chicago where he has resided since 1964. He remains closely allied with other former Freedom Riders and civil rights workers around the country and regularly speaks at academic institutions, churches and civic organizations.
He has been the subject of scholarly research by respected academics, sought after for major media interviews, and featured in print from critically acclaimed books to a Forbes magazine publication. The documentary Freedom Riders which was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2011 received rave reviews.
Mr. Armstrong collaborated with noted free-lance writer Natalie Bell to document his life experiences as a civil rights activist. In 2011, “The autobiography of a Freedom Rider: My Life as a Foot Soldier for Civil Rights” was published by Health Communications, Inc.
“Whatever difference I might have made, the civil rights movement has given me much in return: a true sense of purpose and an abiding fulfillment.” – Thomas M. Armstrong
Natalie Bell is a journalist who has worked for more than 25 years as a news reporter for broadcast and print news organizations in the Northeast, Midwest and Southern U.S. Her work has been carried by national and international news organizations, such as Dow Jones & Co. and National Public Radio. She is specialized in covering public affairs, in particular education. As a Fulbright-Hayes fellow, she covered political and cultural transition in post-apartheid South Africa.
She received her undergraduate in Journalism from Howard University and her Masters from the School of Journalism at Columbia University. In 2001, she served as a delegate to the United Nations World Conference Against Racism. She has also taught journalism and media studies as an adjunct professor for SUNY College at Old Westbury in the Department of American Studies.
Ms. Bell has family roots in Prentiss, Mississippi, and met Thomas Armstrong while researching her own family history. She is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, and has lived and worked as a television news reporter in Mississippi.
Since the publishing of the book in 2011, she has been engaged in an oral history project, in partnership with the Center for Oral History & Cultural Heritage at the University of Southern Mississippi. The goal is to promote the preservation of historically black educational institutions in Mississippi, which served the needs of African American children during an era when racial segregation would have denied many black students any educational opportunities.
Travis T. Armstrong is an Air Force veteran who retired in 2014 after 23 years of service. He served during combat operations in Southwest Asia to include Desert Storm (Northern Watch), Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan. Travis also served across the globe in Far East Asia, Europe and in the Continental United States. He specialized in providing Human Resource and Professional Development services to Air Force troops around the world. Among his many accomplishments, Travis led several large project management ventures in conjunction with the Pentagon that designed, produced, and implemented instructional development programs for the Human Resources career field of the Air Force, serving over 44,000 personnel.
During his service, Travis earned an undergraduate degree in Business Administration/Human Resource Development and a Masters Degree in Business Administration/Organizational Development in 2004 and 2006, respectively, from Touro University International. Since his retirement, he earned an additional Bachelors degree in American History/minor African American History from the University of Maryland Global Campus. In December 2022, Travis completed a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Trident University International. He has been actively assisting the Foot Soldier’s Journey team in research, community outreach, social media presence and other administrative activities.
Travis was born in Prentiss, Mississippi and raised primarily in Monticello, Mississippi. He currently lives in Schertz, Texas with his wife Denise who is his inspiration. He is the cousin of both Mr. Thomas Armstrong and Ms. Natalie Bell. His goal is to uplift and continue to tell the stories of the perseverance and achievements of our previous generations in the rural South as the Foot Soldier’s Journey organization has always done.