The Pass It On Project
One of our first projects together was The Pass It On Project, which took place at our school in Brooklyn, NY from 2008-2010. It was a semester-long study of the American Civil Rights Movement, delving into the ideas of race, social justice, and youth empowerment. Three days a week, for an hour, we would gather with fourteen 8th graders to talk about race, civil rights, social justice, education, and the role of youth both historically and today. It was an experiment in creating a younger generation of honest witnesses,who when faced with injustice would feel compelled to act, and whose actions would be strengthened by their own understanding of history. (view student blog here)
During the semester, the students studied the Civil Rights Movement in depth and, using this knowledge, designed and planned a two-week road trip through the American South. In June 2009, we embarked on this road trip together with our 14 students, for an experience that would change all of our lives. On this journey, we aimed to walk in the footsteps of history and reflect upon the legacy of racism and civil rights, and how each affects our lives today. In 2010, we implemented the program with a new group of students and the older students serving as guides and mentors. In June 2010, we traveled south for our second Pass It On road trip. The students who participated in this program went on to high school and used their knowledge of activism to bring about changes in their school climate and community. In summer 2011, after relocating to North Carolina, we adapted and implemented, in conjunction with the community, a week-long anti-racist activism workshop for youth in Robeson County, NC. We carry on this work with adults and youth today.
The Pass It On Project caught the attention of two Brooklyn-based filmmakers, Kalim Armstrong and Melissa Nicolardi. Both are the children of educators, and Melissa is a former NYC public school teacher. Their film, The Pass It On Project, "follows the students and teachers as they leave the familiar environments of home and classroom to embark on what each hopes will be a transformative journey. Told through the eyes of the students and teachers, and interweaving the accounts of surviving Civil Rights activists, The Pass It On Project is a coming of age story that explores issues of education, race, history and civil rights through characters that span three generations. It examines an approach to teaching history that is rooted in meaningful experience and relationships; and in doing so reminds us that some lessons learned cannot be measured on paper."
If you are interested in implementing The Pass It On Project or a similar program in your school, contact us for more information.
Read an article about the project here.