The Long Walk to Freedom
is a multi-generational living history project and exhibit that explores a crucial era of American history when ordinary people did extraordinary things. The project was created by Community Works with funds provided by a California Arts Council’s “Arts in Education Demonstration” grant. Functioning largely as an educational vehicle by youth and for youth, the exhibit features photographs, archival materials, quotes, an interactive DVD and a 15-minute video that highlight the contributions of 12 civil rights activists who changed the face of our nation through their vision and valiance. The example of their lives provides our youth with a blueprint of activism for decades to come.
“The Long Walk to Freedom” makes history relevant to today’s youth and offers them a vision of how they can make a difference in their own communities by examining the youth movement of the 1960s. The exhibit is the culmination of an 18-month in-depth study by 60 students in the 11th
grade at George Washington High School, a public high school in San Francisco. These students met and interviewed the 12 activists, studied their lives, and documented their experiences. Inspired by the voices they were hearing, these young students learned research and interviewing techniques, conducted biographical studies and personal interviews, and wrote essays, letters, songs and videos.
The comprehensive educational project’s state-of-the-art exhibit includes a video introduction, an interactive DVD, historical photos, contemporary photographic portraits, archival materials, a graphic timeline (developed in collaboration with the Schomberg Research Center), guided tours, public forums, classroom workshops, curriculum materials and an exhibit guide. It also features the young creators’ poignant impressions of the activists they interacted with. The project is the centerpiece of Community Works’ oral history arts education programming that studies the lives of “local heroes” who are making a difference in their communities. It introduces models of public service and community involvement.
Honorees include: Robert Allen, Frances Beal, Janet Clinger, Bettie Mae Fikes, Jon Fromer, Matt Herron, Philip Hutchings, Yuri Kochiyama, Carlos Munoz, Willie B. Wazir Peacock, Eleanor Walden, and Cecil Williams- all of whom helped fight for racial equality in the 1960’s and are still making a difference today.