Greenville Renaissance Scholars
School District, Greenville, Mississippi
Margaret Joseph, Executive Director, After School and Summer Program for Middle School through High School
Twelve seventh- and eighth-grade students participated in our Greenville Renaissance Scholars (GRS) after-school class entitled: "Paint and Create a Play Like Jacob Lawrence." For their culminating project, the Scholars collectively researched, wrote, and produced a play about the Great Migration, called "Hard Times."
With a similar spirit as Lawrence approached The Migration Series, the Scholars researched the Great Migration, using the Internet, excerpts from Nicholas Lemann's The Promised Land,
and the Teaching Kit. They also interviewed a local resident who had moved north during the Great Migration. Scholars then developed individual ideas for the play and, through consensus, chose one theme as a focus for their play.
The Scholars viewed The Migration Series at the Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA), in Jackson-90 minutes away. Afterwards we discussed their personal reactions to the series. Their confidence interpreting and ability to make personal connections to the artwork grew. Gradually, the once "distant and academic" became more real. After writing the play, the students designed props and stage inspired by Lawrence's imagery and their own research. Later that spring, the Scholars traveled to Washington, D.C. to perform "Hard Times" at The Phillips Collection's Family Festival.