A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey that, with its elements of symbolism, ritual and enlightenment, seems almost medieval in the 21st century.

The symbolic reason approximately 100 Charlottesvillians boarded buses July 8 for a six-day civil rights pilgrimage was to commemorate the 1898 lynching of John Henry James, which was virtually unknown until about two years ago. The group took soil from his murder site, now owned by Farmington Country Club, to Montgomery, Alabama, where the Equal Justice Initiative collects jars of dirt from 4,400 documented lynchings, mostly in the South.

There was a healing element to the journey after last year’s Summer of Hate, and a desire for truth-telling to help transform the community and move it forward. Because the events of August 11 and 12, say the trip’s organizers, were not isolated aberrations, but part of a 400-year history of racial terror.