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Youth Together in Oakland, CA, hosted screenings of Greensboro: Closer to the Truth in two local high school campuses on December 16, 2009: Skyline and Youth Empowerment School. The leadership classes and senior English classes at these schools participated in rich and powerful discussions afterwards about the film, the process, violence and healing, and how these all relate to their own personal battles and experiences. It was an opportunity for them to begin a process of healing by creating a space where they could share and be supported by their peers. Skyline used the momentum from the screening and discussion to create a Wall of Letters, a public art piece allowing students to tell their stories about overcoming trauma. The intent was to create a public display of the private struggles these students face in their day-to-day lives and in so doing help to strengthen the community by supporting a space for understanding about some of these struggles. This public forum, inspired by the film and the Truth and Reconciliation process, was a creative way for them to reconcile their own personal battles together, as a community.
Meanwhile, throughout January 2010, many classrooms in these two high schools screened the film and held similar discussions so that other students outside of the leadership classes could also contribute to the Wall of Letters. Youth Together used Greensboro: Closer to the Truth as a youth-friendly tool to help prepare students for meeting teachers, principals and other district officials to garner support for a measure to introduce restorative justice models as disciplinary practices in Oakland high schools. In the end, Youth Together youth leaders were successful in getting Restorative Justice Resolution No. 0910-0120 passed by Oakland Unified School District.
The momentum from all of these efforts culminated in a public screening of the film at the First Congressional Church of Oakland on February 18, 2010. The event drew a large crowd and was a heartfelt and deep discussion about the role of reconciliation in community healing. Nick James, Director of Special Projects for Youth Together, explained the need for these conversations: “Oakland is always in the position of having to react to tragedy and trauma so this will be an opportunity at being proactive and preventative.”
Active Voice and Good Work Films produced this video, "Students with an Active Voice: Using Film to Reduce Violence in an Urban School," to highlight one of the Project partners, Youth Together in Oakland, CA, and the exciting ways they were able to creatively leverage the power of this important film to educate and inspire their youth leaders to action.