Apollo Theater video oral history project asks “Why Can’t We?”

The Apollo Theater Video Oral history Project at Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing & Visual Arts has just completed its sixth year. Thirty-five 11th graders learned to document oral history interviews using video in conjunction with their African American and Latin & Caribbean American Studies class.

Working with an Apollo teaching artist, Wadleigh Secondary students learn aspects of video production, applying foundational filmmaking tools and theory while recording personal accounts of historical events from a variety of interviewees. Over the course of conducting the interviews, students learn how to have productive conversations and how to research and gather information. Through this process, they are able to connect the past to the present while considering their own impact on the future of the community.

The project this year, Why Can’t We? focused on capturing the experiences of individuals who exceeded the expectations that life and society placed before them. As the students explored the lives and the contributions of people such as Dred Scott, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sixto Rodriguez they came across a common theme: Each of these individuals went beyond the limits that were placed before them. The students then sought out men and women in their communities to interview, who in their own way went beyond the limits and expectations that they faced. Following the interviews, students analyzed footage, researched information that added depth to their stories, and edited the content down to the most essential concepts that would best engage the audience.

Why Can’t We? from Apollo Theater on Vimeo.

WHY CAN’T WE? is posted on the Apollo Theater website.

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