SAN BRUNO, Calif. (KGO) --An influential African-American leader is proposing that Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling's fine be directed to a Bay Area civil rights organization.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, is not from California, but on the floor of the U.S. House, he honored a California group that teaches about the fight against racism.
"Sojourn To The Past -- the longest running civil rights education program in the United States," Lewis said.
Lewis knows the struggle perhaps better than anybody. In one iconic photo, he can be seen being beaten by an Alabama state trooper. Several times a year, he shares that experience with a room full high school kids as part of Sojourn To The Past.
"He's been a champion and friend to this program and believes in the work we are doing," Jeff Steinberg, the founder of Sojourn To The Past, said.
Now, Steinberg says Lewis has outdone himself with a letter. He even noticed that his signature was hand-signed and the letter was addressed to the commissioner and Players' Association of the NBA. Lewis says that Clippers owner Donald Sterling's $2.5 million fine for racist remarks should go directly to Sojourn To The Past.
"We do anti-racism work," Steinberg said. "And we know the NBA is going to give that money out to charitable causes. We thought who better than us to be a recipient of that money?"
Sojourn To The Past has an office full photos and memorabilia from the Civil Rights Movement, but the students who go on those journeys do far more than look at pictures. They get to visit those historic locations and meet those influential people in person.
Minnie Brown Trickey was among the first black students to attend a white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. High schoolers hear from her and other trailblazers as they travel across the country and into the Deep South. It's a 10-day trip that can change teenagers forever.
"It was just a key moment in my life in helping me know what I wanted to do with my life," former Sojourn To The Past student Lolo Villagomez said.
But at a cost of $3,000 per student, money is a big obstacle. Sojourn To The Past would use Sterling's fine for scholarships and to plan new journeys.
"We want to put together a Japanese internment program. We want to do a Sojourn for women in the South," said Steinberg.
It's all to help teens learn about history and about themselves.
Lewis said the program helps students, "to think about their own values, about what kind of country they want America to be."