The 1960 School Crisis: When Will It Be Over?
A course that gives Xavier students the opportunity to explore a chapter of their own history, engage with a documentary film production, and add a screen credit to their resumés.
Old newsreel footage from the New Orleans School Crisis of 1960 seems shocking to us now: white mothers screaming racial slurs at black first-graders, chasing them down the street, throwing stones at them. Today, school integration is not usually considered controversial in the US, and yet schools all across the country remain almost as racially segregated as they were 60 years ago. In New Orleans, public schools are only nine percent white. In Chicago, they are only 10 percent white. In Los Angeles it’s the same, 10 percent white, while the city’s population is 52 percent white. Meanwhile, American public education is in a constant funding crisis. Most accounts of this history focus on a few familiar causes—Supreme Court rulings, political strategies, white flight—nor are they wrong to do so. In this documentary, however, we will push beyond the historical narrative and ask: what is the relationship of schools, race, and money?
This course will be based in Xavier’s mass communications department. Throughout the semester, students will have access to raw footage from the documentary, and they will explore the basic stages of production: 1) research and story development, 2) interviews, 3) editing, and 4) scripting. Each student will produce edited scenes as well as written work reflecting his or her own approach to the film’s subject matter. At the end of the semester, each student will receive both a grade and a screen credit on the final documentary.
This project is sponsored by Xavier’s Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit.