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Teach Us All

Logline: Teach Us All is a documentary and youth-led social justice movement on educational inequality and the re-segregation of America’s schools set against the timely historical backdrop of the 1957 Little Rock school desegregation crisis.

Film synopsis: Sixty years after the Little Rock Nine faced violent resistance desegregating Central High, America’s schools continue to represent the key battleground of the Civil Rights Movement. Teach Us All derives powerful and applicable lessons from history within a timely context, emphasizing the need for unity and collective action to rectify the staggering disparities dividing America’s children. Timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary (September 2017), our social justice campaign seeks to build the capacity of students to carry forth the legacy of the Little Rock Nine and take leadership in today’s fight for equity.

  • Sonia Lowman
  • Sonia Lowman
  • Elizabeth Eckford, Little Rock Nine
    Key Cast
  • Terrence Roberts, Little Rock Nine
    Key Cast
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 28, 2017
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Sonia Lowman

Sonia Lowman is Director of Communications for the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, an international education nonprofit. Prior, Sonia worked in myriad international contexts that included: managing communications for International Medical Corps, a humanitarian relief organization with operations in 30-plus countries; running an International Monetary Fund youth outreach initiative in the Middle East for Arab university students; and contributing to policy papers on international women’s rights for several NGOs, including the United Nations. She has a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics.

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Director Statement

I went to a segregated (white) school. I grew up in a segregated (white) neighborhood. I remember learning briefly about the Little Rock Nine, but my peers and I never connected their story to our real lives. We failed to realize we were living proof of a promise still unfulfilled. Or that our public education system, a theoretically democratic good, creates winners and losers—largely along racial and socioeconomic lines—with lifelong consequences to both individuals and the collective.

Often segregation is portrayed as a story of black America. But this is a story for all America—for a country that claims to stand on the ideals of equality, liberty, and justice. This is a story for our “melting pot” of people from different colors and backgrounds who often don’t really know each other because of the ways in which we arrange our schools and neighborhoods. And this is an answer to the Civil Rights Movement—a couple generations later, with still so far to go.

While recent media attention on race relations in America has focused heavily on police brutality, mass incarceration, and immigration, we have yet to adequately address the root cause of many of our most urgent social challenges: education. Across the U.S., the confluence of race and poverty deny today’s minority youth educational access and opportunity in complex, pervasive, and enduring ways. For black students, we are back at school segregation levels not seen since a year before MLK was assassinated, and 1 in 7 black and Latino children attend “hyper-segregated” schools. Children who attend segregated schools are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to go to jail, and earn an average of 25% less over their lifetimes. Nationally, we spend more money incarcerating minority youth than educating them.

If we as a society permit the staggering marginalization of minority youth in our schools, we are effectively, collectively sanctioning their disenfranchisement for the rest of their lives. This is a social, economic, and moral imperative critical to the future of this country—and one that takes an understanding of history to rectify.

While Teach Us All seeks to highlight egregious inequities faced largely by minority students, I was highly cognizant throughout the production of not wanting to victimize or disempower our youth. I wanted instead to honor the incredible intelligence, agency, and power of these young people; the astounding potential that we as a nation continually waste. To this end, both the film and campaign for Teach Us All are organized around three central themes: the critical role of teachers in shaping the lives of young people; the urgent need for community engagement to ensure the success of schools; and the extraordinary power of students themselves, who I believe must now take up the mantle from the Little Rock Nine and fight for the quality, equitable education that has yet to be realized.