On Friday, October 22nd, more than 100 people gathered in the cafetorium of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College (DMLK) to watch the premiere of Power in Our Voices: The Know Justice, Know Peace Story directed by Diego Estrada Bernuy and Emily Han-Young Hurd of Degotelo Studios and supported in part by RootED Denver.
After the film, a panel of DMLK students, educators, and district curriculum staff sat down with moderator, Dr. Brenda Allen, RootED Denver Board Chair and Professor Emerita, to discuss the film’s themes, the students’ journey and next steps in revising the manner in which DPS teaches Black history. The event was live streamed on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College Facebook and YouTube pages.
The film showcases the remarkable story of four young women finding their voices and becoming empowered to envision and effect change at their school and across the city. The film relates the emotional and inspirational journey that led to Denver Public Schools’ adoption of the Know Justice, Know Peace Resolution.
The film presents a powerful example of what’s possible when student perspectives are lifted up, and when educators are responsive to feedback and have the autonomy to implement changes. DMLK Principal Kimberly Grayson said, “Our vision at MLK is to create great leaders, great communicators and great thinkers. And a part of that is to ensure that we are listening and valuing our students and their voices.”
Student Kaliah Yizar added, “It’s so important that we don’t let the students coming up today not feel important. Especially with things like mental illness affecting teenagers already. Be willing to give students a foundation to value themselves and know that they can do something because the future is really in our hands.”
The students created a podcast, Know Justice Know Peace: The Take, to address the inequities in education today. They hope to keep their resolution alive by having conversations with key people in the implementation, sustainability and overall success of their efforts to transform the DPS curriculum.
At the conclusion of the panel, Dr. Walter Milton and Dr. Joel Freeman, the creators of Black History 365, presented college scholarship checks to all students from the original podcast, Dahni Austin, Alana Mitchell, Jenelle Nangah and Kaliah Yizar.
View the facilitator’s guide on the RootED website as a way to deepen your understanding of the film and how to organize conversations about it with others.