Art for Social Justice

By Maureen Nagle, middle school English teacher

After reading To Kill a Mockingbird and thinking about issues of racial prejudice and institutional racism in the novel, our seventh graders then took part in a three-week intensive investigation of racial justice issues in America today.

Students reflected upon aspects of their own identities, considered their exposure to other races through a racial diet exercise, and read articles about the race-related issues in Ferguson, North Charleston and right here in Providence.

Upper school students then led a workshop called “Art for Social Justice” to teach seventh graders about spoken-word poetry and the power of poetry to speak our truths. Seventh graders then worked with partners to write original racial justice poems.

Our unit culminated with our racial justice poetry slam where students courageously took to the stage and wowed their audience with powerful poems that only inspired us to continue our work for racial justice. (See an example of the student work via the YouTube video above.)

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