Education Blog

Created Equal: Image, Sound, and Story

By Emily Keating, Director of Education 02.11.16

In many ways, this feels like the second in a series- a follow up to a post I wrote last July that shared my experience representing the JBFC at the Turnaround Arts National Leadership Retreat in Airlie, VA. But it’s not the type of sequel that requires having read or seen the first, so you’re fine to begin reading here! One of the values we hold dear in our teaching at the Media Arts Lab is Creative Collaboration and my colleagues, Sean Weiner and Theresa Dawson, and I felt the challenges and exhilaration of this process ourselves. Last Thursday, February 4, we launched a new partnership with the Brooklyn Historical Society at their extraordinary 150 year old landmark building in Brooklyn Heights.

The match was made, and financial support provided, by the National Endowment for the Humanities, who participated in one of the workshops at the Leadership Retreat. They saw the potential for two nonprofit institutions to extend a project they created called Created Equal to further engage young people in the history of the civil rights movement and deepen the experience of film viewing through media production.

The result, Created Equal: Image, Sound, Story, is an interdisciplinary curriculum designed to inspire middle school students to learn the history of a seminal moment of the civil rights movement, understand the power of people and the media to advance social change, and share their own story about racial justice through the creation of multimedia arts projects.

Teachers who joined us at BHS, and for a second day at JBFC, from Bridgeport, CT and Brooklyn, NY are leading their students through every facet of the program. A mentor text in the curriculum is acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson's documentary Freedom RidersStudents will learn shot composition, and apply it to a primary source document from the BHS archives and an image shared via Twitter from #blacklivesmatter. They’ll listen to a civil rights protest song, an anthem released last year by Janelle Monáe, and write their own lyrics about an issue they see in their own community. 

Students will be empowered as historians, storytellers, mediamakers, and social activists as they grow to understand how the past and the present are connected, shaped, and shared.

I look forward to sharing Part III – or more- as this groundbreaking project unfolds.