May 14, 2004
Last year when we began discussion how to produce something useful to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board, someone said why not get today's students to ask people who were students 50 years ago about their experiences? What was public education like in Champaign-Urbana before the Supreme Court's prescription for racial integration? What happened when schools were desegregated? Were they ever actually desegregated? And other little questions like, have we lived up to the promise of Brown, that all students regardless of color or background, would get equal access to a quality education? So after months of work, we present Our Journey: Stories of School Desegregation and Community in Champaign-Urbana, produced by WILL and seven young African-American women who are students at Franklin Middle School in Champaign. These students did the research, the interviews, and the writing, and we all learned much in the process. The Our Journey web site provides links to the documentary in RealAudio and MP3 format, plus individual interviews and interview excerpts, transcripts, photos, and gobs of detail. Someone should do another documentary on how these girls tackled this project. It changed their lives. Education is supposed to do that, so we pat ourselves on the back, and invite you to join us in congratulating them on an amazing documentary. Here's hoping it helps us learn more than we did in the past 50 years.
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