Southern California Library

Where Making History Is a Struggle

Learning from Histories of Struggle

9th Grade Students from South LA Delve into the Archives
to Explore How to Use Art for Social Change


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9th grade students from a local high school analyze materials from the Library's collection on teachers who were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era for voicing dissent.

9th grade students from a local high school analyze materials from the Library's collection on teachers who were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era for voicing dissent.

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"Right after the election, I spoke with students and many of the questions were along the lines of: what do we do now? Where do we go from here?" 

  ~ Tyler Fister, South LA high school arts educator

Many of us have the same questions as Tyler's students. We're wondering what we can to do to not just keep our communities from more harm, but to help them live and  thrive. Here's Tyler's answer:

"So in terms of transformational change, which seeks a life beyond resistance, it is important that as educators and organizers, and community members, we study the histories of how folks have organized to live."

Tyler felt so strongly about the importance of this work that he decided to collaborate with the Library on an ambitious project.

He's bringing about 60 9th grade students to the Library over the next several months, for a series of workshops. The goal is to deepen students' analysis and complicate their notions of what causes poverty and racism, and explore the use of art for social change. Then the group will produce artwork reflecting some of the concerns or interests of the students. To hear more of what Tyler had to say, and find out about the students' first  visit to the Library, click here for an excerpt of our conversation with Tyler (PDF).

If you believe like Tyler that it's more important now than ever to learn from histories of struggle, please support the Library's work today; your gift will be put straight to work and will enable the Library to both expand and deepen our partnerships with local educators.

And as our thank you, we will give you a free print of one of Tyler's murals for your gift of $50 or more.

 

 
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Highlights from the Library's Collections for the Student Workshop

As part of the Library's first workshop with the students, they broke up into work groups and gathered at stations that had images pulled from different Library's collections. The goal was to  have the students study the images and practice "reading" them; what message was the image trying to convey and was that message effective?

As Tyler told us afterwards, "even I was surprised with how engaged the students were with the material." You can have a look yourself at some of these items in the slideshow below. The images are taken from the Library's collections on the Black Panther Party, the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), Mothers Reclaiming our Children (Mothers ROC), the Blacklisted Teachers, and the East L.A. High School Walkouts.