Voices of Empowerment
Voices of Empowerment is an extended unit in which students perform a text from American history, drawing on the anthology Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. As students explore the historical context of the pieces they’ve chosen to perform, they come to appreciate the power of history and to learn that the struggle for social justice is ongoing. In performance, they gain confidence and poise. Teachers participating in this workshop will explore ways to adapt the unit to their classrooms and experience for themselves what it means to embody history.
Academy Fellow Jeffrey Ellis-Lee has been teaching in New York City public schools for twenty-five years. A UFT teacher leader, Jeffrey is a fierce advocate for equity in education. He has been developing Voices of Empowerment for several years, and has found this unit to be a powerful way to teach students the importance of advocating for social justice.