Created Equal: Image, Sound, and Story is an interdisciplinary curriculum and professional development program that aims to enhance the teaching of the Civil Rights era in middle school classrooms through integrating a history and media arts pedagogy that provides teachers with resonant primary media sources from the 1960s and the present. 

The Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) collaboratively designed this program, which provides in-depth interaction with leading scholars, hands-on training in the project’s digital curriculum, and classroom support as teachers implement the lesson plans with students. The program is designed to inspire young people to learn the history of a seminal moment in the Civil Rights movement in America, 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. Students will be empowered as historians, storytellers, media makers, and social activists as they grow to understand how the past and the present are connected, shaped, and shared.


Now in its second year, Created Equal: Image, Sound, and Story has been implemented in seven schools with 14 teachers, and will reach over 250 students during the 2016-2017 school year. All seven schools were selected on the basis of their participation in Turnaround Arts, a signature program of Michelle Obama’s work with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and are located in Bridgeport, CT, and Brooklyn, NY.

The Created Equal curriculum uses New York-based filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s 2010 documentary film Freedom Riders as a jumping off point for students to make connections between contemporary and 1960s-era Civil Rights activism, with a focus on school segregation for the 2016-2017 school year. Students will build skills working with primary source documents from the 1960s, and critically engage with contemporary media, including #BlackLivesMatter social media content and Janelle Monae and company’s “Hell You Talmbout” protest song. As students make local connections to civil rights activism in the North, they will develop the skills necessary to unpack contemporary civil rights battles around ongoing issues, including fair housing, police violence, segregated schools, and employment discrimination.

“By connecting past and current events, students learn about the civil rights fight and realize that it’s still happening. What’s more, they are studying it happening in their community, which makes it even more relatable. They no longer say ‘The civil rights movement was 60 years ago and has nothing to do with me,” - Arlain Boucaud, Teacher, East Flatbush Community Research School, MS 581.

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The Created Equal: Image, Sound, and Story curriculum provides opportunities for students to create video, audio, photos, and a mini-documentary to develop critical thinking through discussion, reflection, and writing.

Created Equal is an excellent resource because it works within the students’ medium. They Instagram, they Facebook, they use their phones. It’s them. It’s the age of technology, students enjoy the power of using it, and Created Equal allows them to do so” - Stephanie King, Teacher, East Flatbush Community Research School, MS 581

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Created Equal: Image, Sound, and Story is an interdisciplinary curriculum and professional development program developed by the JBFC in partnership with the Brooklyn Historical Society, and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The participating schools are: Barnum School, Roosevelt School, and Tisdale School in Bridgeport, CT; and PS284 Gregory Jackson Community School, PS165 Ida Posner School, East Flatbush Community Research School, and Ebbets Field Middle School, in Brooklyn, NY.