(September 28, 2018) – TACOMA, WA – Members of the Fannie Lou Hamer’s America team, Pablo Correa, Joseph Davenport, and Dr. Maegan Parker Brooks shared their experiences as instructors of the Find Your Voice Young Filmmakers and Educators’ workshops at the 2018 Race and Pedagogy National Conference held at the University of Puget Sound Campus in Tacoma, Washington September 27-29. This quadrennial gathering brings hundreds of K-12 educators, scholars, activists, and artists together from across the nation to engage issues of race and to discuss the impact of race on education.
Fannie Lou Hamer’s America is a multimodal project, based on the civil rights activist’s life, that includes a new and original documentary, an educational curriculum, an interactive website and clearinghouse for Hamer-related materials and a virtual tour. The project’s mission to create a platform for Hamer’s voice in our modern time while addressing and promoting conversations about racial equity.
The Fannie Lou Hamer’s America Documentary team spearheaded the two workshops last summer in the Mississippi Delta. The Young Filmmakers’ Workshop, conducted by the film’s director and editor, Joe Davenport, and its videographer and project webspinner, Pablo Correa, enlisted 16 students from across the Delta to participate in a five-week course hosted at Gentry High School in Indianola. During the workshop, students were taught the aesthetics of digital studies, including the use of professional-grade production equipment, primary source research and creating their own oral histories. The students worked together in teams of three to plan and produce short films. They set up, conducted, and filmed their own interviews, and produced and filmed a reenactment scene. Their final film project was screened locally at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola. Their collaborative project exploring Delta history and race relations will be released alongside the Fannie Lou Hamer’s America documentary in 2019.
The Educators’ Workshop met for two days in June at Gentry High School, and gathered seven educators from across the Delta, representing elementary, middle, and high school grades. Led by Maegan Parker Brooks and Dr. Davis W. Houck, the workshop participants reviewed Mississippi's Social Studies standards alongside the rare archival materials related to Fannie Lou Hamer that the Fannie Lou Hamer’s America research team has gathered. Upon review, each participating teacher designed an original lesson plan for her grade level and we collectively reviewed these plans. Teachers will implement the plans in their classrooms this fall and will refine the plans in the Spring of 2019, before the Find Your Voice curriculum is released.
Correa, Davenport, and Brooks, whose panel proposal was competitively selected for presentation at the conference, shared the lessons they learned from leading these summer workshops on a panel entitled, “‘Mississippi Goddam’: Enriching Narratives of Movement Activism and (Re)writing Narratives of Resistance.” The title for their panel was taken from Nina Simone’s 1964 movement anthem in which she declares: “Alabama’s got me so upset//Tennessee made me lose my rest//And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam!” The panelists began with audiovisual footage of Simone’s epic performance of this song, before delving into what makes Mississippi distinctive and what educators, activists, and artists alike still stand to learn from in-depth study of the state, its people, its history, and its present.
In addition to presentations about the Fannie Lou Hamer’s America documentary and the Find Your Voice Curriculum, the “Mississippi Goddam” panel also included a presentation by Dr. Stephanie Rolph, an Associate Professor of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, Ms., entitled, “What They Were Up Against: Why Teaching Resistance Is a Vital Part of the Civil Rights Narrative.” Dr. Rolph’s presentation foregrounded white supremacist resistance to the mid-twentieth century movement for equality. Their panel was well-attended and received; it generated thought-provoking questions about how teachers in the Pacific Northwest could more meaningfully incorporate lessons from the Delta into their own curriculum, as well as how teachers in the Northwest could collaborate with teachers in the Southeast.
“It was an honor and a privilege to spotlight the incredible students and teachers we have worked with in the Delta before this national audience,” said curriculum designer, Maegan Parker Brooks. “It was also heartening to see so much interest in our project at the conference. There were several excellent panels slated concurrently, so we were quite pleased to have standing room only in our classroom. We’re excited to share lessons from Mrs. Hamer’s inspirational life with an even larger--global--audience when our documentary, website, and curriculum launch this spring!”
Sunflower County was targeted for the curricular pilot programs because of Fannie Lou Hamer’s love, commitment and dedication to helping citizens of the historically impoverished community.
The documentary is slated for completion and release in 2019.
Facebook: Fannie Lou Hamer’s America and Twitter: @flhamerica.
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