FREEDOM RIDERS Premiere on PBS/Channel 8

Posted May 16, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) is a part of an amazing yearlong community initiative, called the Freedom Now Project, to remember and preserve the history of activism in Houston.  Our city has many important stories about civil rights organizing and change.  This year WITS is one of several organizations dedicated to educating and inspiring students about the art and writing of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

We hope you will set aside time tonight, Monday, May 16th, for the Houston PBS/Channel 8 premiere of FREEDOM RIDERS, a 2-hour documentary about the more than 400 black and white Americans who risked their lives to bring about change in the United States.

WITS students are being motivated in powerful ways by the stories and photographs of Freedom Riders, many of whom were young people.  They are imagining what it may have been like to stand up and do the right thing at a crucial moment in U.S. history.  Here is a poem written by Maya, a 4th grader, about the power of joining forces with others to bring about change.


I am marching down the street.

It’s night, and I am singing with

people all around me.

It’s cold, but I don’t notice

because I am trying to find my

way to freedom. I am letting

my soul take flight like a bird.

My arms are linked to the sky.

Voices ring in my ears as we

sing our way to heaven.

by Maya, age 10

On Thursday at 7 p.m. a group of WITS students will read their original stories and poems about the Civil Rights movement. This free event, The Watchful Eye, will be held at the Menil Collection, and the public is welcome to attend.

“The Whole World Was Watching” Exhibit Opens this Saturday

Posted March 4, 2011 & filed under Notebook.


The Whole World Was Watching, a photography exhibit tracing the Civil Rights Movement, opens this Saturday at the Menil Collection and The African American Library at the Gregory School.  The collected works from Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil portray a vivid and haunting  account of what it meant to be an African American living in the turbulent South, fighting  Jim Crow segregation. Reverend William Lawson, a forerunner of Civil Rights activism in Houston, will speak on the Menil bookstore deck; other highlights include songs by Heritage of Zion Quartet, music by Tierney Malone, and exhibit tours.

What: The Whole World Was Watching: Civil Rights Era Photographs from Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil

When: Saturday, March 5 through September 25

Where: Receptions 2-4 p.m. at The African American Library at the Gregory School; 4-6 p.m. at the Menil bookstore.

Cost: Free and open to the public

Additional info: The Whole World Was Watching launches “Freedom Now Project,” Houston’s commemoration of  sit-ins, marches, and boycotts that changed the social landscape of the South and help shaped the history of  the Civil Rights across the country. WITS joins other nonprofits  to present a variety of educational programs, lectures,  activities, and events leading up to and extending beyond the May 16th  premier of the PBS documentary Freedom Riders.

For more information, visit the Freedom Now website and follow the conversation on Facebook.