The Civil Rights Movement Initiative (CRMI) is a after school program that serves students from three Providence public high schools. Young people were crucial to the Civil Rights Movement and youth are the heartbeat of the city of Providence. In recent years students in Providence have fought for ethnic studies and civics education in their curriculums along with more strict gun control policies. Although the city is small, many of the schools are quite siloed, limiting opportunities to build community across schools. Through this initiative we hope to create and strengthen a community of students from different schools across the city.
This program offers students exposure to a rigorous, pre-college level curriculum that centers the history of the Civil Rights Movement through Black grassroots organizing and collective resistance. These topics are typically not covered in a nuanced or critical way in current high school curriculums. There is abundant evidence that engagement with this history has shifted students’ perceptions of self and has given them the space to wrestle with feelings of inferiority that are often learned in schools. We hope that the CRMI Program can serve as an opportunity for students to grapple with this history and encourage them to interrogate systems of domination and how these legacies continue to shape their lived experiences.