Vajra Watson founded SAYS: Sacramento Area Youth Speaks to give young people a voice through hip hop and spoken word. "We underestimate young people," Vajra says. "They're ready to grab the mic. Are we ready to listen?"
Arts & Culture
During a dance performance on stage, Jackie Rotman's music suddenly stopped. In response, members of the audience joined Jackie on stage and began dancing to show their support. Expanding on the idea that dance can help foster a positive atmosphere, Jackie began providing hip-hop classes free of charge to youth that would not otherwise be able to afford them. Now with 10 chapters across the country, Everybody Dance Now! is a nonprofit organization that aims to transform the lives of youth through dance, leadership, and community.
After a series of anti-immigrant attacks by local teenagers ended with the hate crime killing of local immigrant Marcelo Lucero, art students at Patchogue-Medford High School wanted to do something positive for the Lucero family and spread a message of peace. Over the course of a year, students gathered after school to create We Are All United: No One Walks Alone, a mosaic dedicated to Marcelo Lucero.
When anti-gay extremist Fred Phelps announced his hate group he calls Westboro Baptist Church would picket Newark Memorial High School's production of "The Laramie Project," community members like Gail Nelson couldn't sit quietly. Borrowing from a scene in the play, concerned citizens dressed as angels to block from view Phelps' followers and their hateful placards. (2:04)
When the Kansas hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church (Fred Phelps' family) announced they would picket Bay Area schools and Jewish institutions, Lowell High School students in San Francisco decide to rally to show their love for their diverse, inclusive community.
In this excerpt of "Not In Our School Palo Alto," Palo Alto High School students in Margo Wixsom's art classes design compelling posters about confronting intolerance and stereotyping. (2:34) Discussion Questions: The teacher in this video wants to show her students the connection between using statements like “That’s so gay” or “You run like a girl” and burning down churches or other violent acts of hate. What do you believe is the connection she is trying to make? Was there one art pieces and/or companion words used with the art that you found particularly inspiring or moving? Why do you think this was the case? (The video may need to be viewed more than once to showcase the artwork.) Some of these phrases used were: Hate builds walls, love builds bridges It’s not what you look at, it’s how you see Love can’t see color You can come out now, you are safe here It’s not what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that makes you who you are Can you think of examples of other forms of creative expression that have made a difference in the way you think about social or civil rights issues? (This could be a book, movie, TV show, mural, poetry, etc…) Why do you think these different mediums can be effective in engaging people in dialogue or reflection on these issues?
As large scale protests across the country highlight the racial injustice that continues to plague the country, Dr. Martin Luther King's dream for justice, equality and non-violence provides an urgent call for reflection and action this year. Every January, Not In Our Town honors Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy by sharing the real life stories of people who are applying Dr. King’s principles today. Though the political landscape has changed since the Civil Rights era, his dream that the United States would fulfill its promise of equality has yet to become reality. But Dr. King’s work proves that change is indeed possible in this country. The communities in Embracing the Dream: Lessons from the Not In Our Town Movement are living proof of that—town by town, school by school, they demonstrate that change is happening. Watch their stories below. What will you do this Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Monday, January 18th - to Embrace the Dream? Not In Our Town provides Three Simple Action Steps 1) Take the Pledge to Stop Hate and Bullying
At South Ocean Middle School in Patchogue, NY, students are using art to talk about the tragic murder of local Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero. After seven local high school students were arrested for the killing, Principal Linda Pickford wanted to create a safe environment where her students could express their feelings about the tragedy, and share their ideas about diversity, immigration, inclusion and respect. So when Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri suggested she host an art exhibit called “Embracing Our Differences,” she mounted the collection of banners on the front lawn of her school, opening up a conversation about how our differences and how communities can come together. (5:53) Discussion Questions:
When the Kansas hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church (Fred Phelps' family) announced they would picket Bay Area schools and Jewish institutions, students at Gunn High School decided they could not sit quietly. With the support of their teachers and administrators, they chose to respond with song and positive messages of love, peace and acceptance. (3:34) Discussion Questions
Outside Cleveland, OH, Lakewood High School students in teacher Joe Lobozzo's Facing History and Ourselves class use video to engage with community members and explore perceptions of changing racial and economic demographics. They continue the conversation with their peers in the student Race and Diversity Club. (5:12) Discussion Questions: