This project – a collaboration between the 11th Grade United States History class at Envision Academy of Arts and Technology in Oakland, Ca., Hip Hop music and theater collective Felonious, and Sound in the Silence USA – is the result of three months of historical study and creative activities.
Throughout February and March 2018, the students learned about the Jim Crow South, the Civil Rights Movement, and the rise of Black Nationalism. In April 2018, they took a deep dive into the work of the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter, including watching the documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and an assembly with Black Panther Erica Huggins and community organizer Melissa Crosby.
In late April 2018 artists from Felonious spent a week working with the entire 11th grade to develop spoken-word pieces about current social issues, inspired by the legacy of the Black Panthers. All students performed their pieces in class, and a select few were chosen to perform at The Flight Deck on 2 May in Oakland, Ca. in front of a sold-out house. These students placed themselves within the continuum of history and created original poetry meant to inspire us all toward social justice.