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April  2014

Greetings from Arts & Democracy!


On February 6th, Arts & Democracy hosted Education for Liberation through Arts and Culture in collaboration with Paul Kuttner, an educator and scholar working at the intersection of community organizing, youth civic engagement, and the arts. The call explored the possibilities and challenges of practicing - and fighting for - culturally relevant, creative, liberating education.


"Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world." 

-  Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed 


Amid the clamor of standardized tests, school privatization, and punitive accountability, we can lose sight of one of the most enduring purposes of education: freedom. Education for liberation is about understanding and addressing oppression in all its forms. A creative process, it involves collaboratively re-imagining our relationship with the world through dialogue and action.

Some of the most innovative forms of liberatory education are embedded in visual arts, literature, history, music, theater, and other artistic and cultural traditions. And, as the banning of ethnic studies in Arizona makes clear, the right to liberatory education is something that must continually be fought for.


In this e-newsletter, you will find the conference call recording  as well as other resources related to education for liberation.

FEATURED PROJECTS                                                                  

Khmer Girls in Action (KGA) is a community-based organization whose mission is to build a progressive and sustainable Long Beach community that works for gender, racial and economic justice led by young Southeast Asian  women. KGA's campaigns invest in and empower Southeast Asian youth to become leaders while celebrating and forefronting the stories and culture of the Southeast Asian community. Health Happens in Communities - Long Beach video documents KGA's Step Into Long Beach participatory action research project that laid the foundation for their Youth at the C.O.R.E Wellness Center Campaign


Project HIP HOP (Highways Into the Past - History, Organizing, and Power) is a youth-led organization that works at the intersection of arts and organizing in Boston. It was started by local activists to connect Greater Boston area youth with the living history of the Civil Rights Movement to inspire a new generation to fight racism and other forms of social injustice while building their own movements. Through their cultural organizing model Project HIP-HOP seeks to 1) develop artistic leadership in youth; 2) challenge and shift societal narratives; 3) unite people through common culture; and 4) use art as a tool for campaign organizing.


Save Ethnic Studies is an organized effort of social justice educators to challenge racist laws banning Mexican American and ethnic studies programs in the Tucson Unified School District and across the state. The struggle over ethnic studies in Arizona addresses critical national social justice issues - whether politicians have control over what is taught in our schools; whether teachers can teach diverse perspectives of history and literature; whether Latino students, historically behind in standardized tests and graduation rates, can catch up with the rest of the student population; and whether these students will emerge from school with a sense of who they are, and what their people have contributed and are contributing to America.


Xican@ Institute for Teaching and Organizing (XITO) strives to support the Xican@/Latin@ community through teacher preparation, social justice pedagogy, and community organizing. There is a lack of opportunity for teachers to improve their practices in meeting the needs of students of color through culturally responsive, authentic and research-based methodology. XITO fills that gap with the goal of impacting future education policy.  Chican@ Literature, Art & Social Studies Program (CLASS) is an intentional strategy for continuing the teaching of Chican@ literature and history while it continues to be banned in Tucson.


El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice was the first public school in the U.S. to focus on human rights created by a community-based organization. It contributes to educational reform and systemic change through culturally relevant and standards-based curriculum and assessment, integrated arts for social change and holistic leadership development. 


The Highlander Research & Education Center serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South through their core methodologies of popular education and cultural organizing. Founded in 1932 as the Highlander Folk School, Highlander supports people to take collective action to shape their own destiny. 


New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) is a group of current and former public school educators and their allies fighting for social justice in the school system and society at large by organizing and mobilizing teachers, developing curriculum, and working with community, parent, and student organizations. 


The Philadelphia Student Union leverages media and youth culture to build the power of young people to demand a high quality education in the Philadelphia public school system. On Blast is a youth-run podcast; Movement Music is a collection of original political music highlighting student voices.


 Project South develops leaders in  communities directly affected by  racism and economic injustice to  build social movements to eliminate  poverty. Using popular education,  they build a base of skilled  leadership to challenge racism and poverty at the roots. Youth Speak Truth Radio is a weekly public affairs show run by their Youth Community Action Program  


Southern Echo develops effective accountable grassroots leadership in African-American communities in rural Mississippi and the surrounding region. Programs include the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse, an intergenerational alliance of more than 65 statewide and local organizations formed across traditional barriers of race and class to dismantle the pipeline from schoolhouse to jailhouse. 


Young Peoples Project (YPP) uses math literacy to develop the abilities of elementary-high school students to succeed in school and life. YPP involves students in efforts to eliminate institutional obstacles to their success.

As always, we're proud to highlight the great work in this field to support and cross-pollinate an extraordinary network of artists, cultural workers, policymakers, educators, and activists. Please be in touch, and let us know what you think!
All our best,

Amalia, Caron, Kathie, Javiera, Michelle and Michelle
Arts & Democracy 

   Thank you for your support! 
In This Newsletter
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Listen to our latest conference call recording!



20th Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference

June 26-29, Omaha, NE 


July, Highlander Center, New Market, TN 

Week-long camp for Southern and Appalachian youth-led and youth-centered groups organizing for social change 

Urban Bush Women's Summer Leadership Institute 

July 24-Aug 3, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 

Free Southern Theater model addressing inequity by claiming our places, our legacy, our stories. 
Deadline to apply: April 4th 



A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform by Mark R. Warren, Karen L. Mapp, and the Community Organizing and School Reform Project (2011) 


College Credit Mexican American Studies Class Replaces Banned Arizona Public School Offering by Roque Planas (2013)


Controversial Ethnic Studies Courses Return to Tucson by Aalia Shaheed (2013)


Cultural Organizing as Critical Praxis: Tamejavi Builds Immigrant Voice, Belonging, and Power by Erica-Kohl Arenas, Myrna Martinez Nateras, and Johanna Taylor (2014)


Cultural Organizing: Blogging where Arts, Activism & Culture Meet by Paul Kuttner


Culturally Relevant Arts Education for Social Justice: A Way Out of No Way edited by Mary Stone Hanley, Gilda L Sheppard, George W. Noblit, Thomas Barone (2013)


EdLib Lab is an online laboratory for finding, discussing and developing social justice teaching materials 


Llano Grande Center for Research and Development's Captura Digital Storytelling Toolkit grows out of their work to inspire a youth culture that aspires to attend college and engage in community change


Local Learning Tools share methods used by folklorists and other cultural specialists to identify and document personal, family, local and regional traditions 


Planning to Change the World is a plan book for social justice teachers edited by Tara Mack and Bree Picower (2014-2015) 



Precious Knowledge 

documentary by 

Ari Luis Palos and Eren Isabel McGinnis portrays the final years of the successful but controversial Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School


Through the Schoolhouse Door: folklore, community and curriculum edited by Patty Bowman and Lynne Hamer (2011)


Teaching Youth Media: A Critical Guide to Literacy, Video Production, & Social Change by Steven Goodman explores the power of media education to help urban teenagers develop critical thinking and literacy skills


Unequal Education is a documentary produced by an Educational Video Center (EVC) youth team for a Bill Moyers PBS broadcast 20 years ago. EVC followed up this year is holding schools and community screenings to spark discussion on education equity. To set up a screening, contact: [email protected]


Arts & Democracy builds the momentum of a cultural movement that draws on a rich history of arts activism, social justice organizing, and grassroots engagement. Arts & Democracy is a sponsored project of State VoicesThank you to the Nathan Cummings Foundation.