Looking at “1964″ across the generations at World of Inquiry

Looking at “1964″ across the generations at World of Inquiry

[Captain Charles Price addressing the “What makes us, US? Conflict and Communityforum (2012)]

February 27, 2013
In the last few days, Rochesterians have been reading about the riots of 1964, including a front page story, “Decades after the 1964 riots, what has changed?” The article was a prelude to a forum hosted by the Rochester chapter of the League of Woman Voters: Facing Race, Embracing Equity (FR=EE). Following a screening of the documentary, July ’64 (2004), the forum encouraged a discussion of the current state of racial inequalities — topics ranging from housing to education — and how these disparities can be diminished.

The history teacher in me relishes such public dialogues, especially by examining how past events continue (or not) to influence present conditions.

The history teacher in me is also prompted to ask the ever-ongoing question: how can contemporary students become engaged with the kinds of issues raised in such forums? Let’s face it, to today’s generation, 1964 seems as far away as 1764.

World of Inquiry School 58

Actually, such projects are taking place throughout city schools. A prime example comes from the World of Inquiry High School that uses an Expeditionary Learning model in which students investigate topics throughout history that changed and affected communities in both positive and negative ways. In Spring 2012, within the context, “What makes us, US? Conflict and Community, the 8th grade worked with local community members to learn about Rochester during the Great Migration, the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil Rights movement, and in one powerful segment, the 1964 riots themselves as told through the eyes of participants.

The trailer to their documentary is five minutes, and well worth your time

You will see a classroom of interested 8th graders (not yet fully fledged jaded teenagers, 8th graders can still be captivated), interviewing one Rochester leader after another: Captain Charlie Price, Rochester’s first African-American police officer, Constance Mitchell, Dr. Walter Cooper Darryl Porter, and former Mayor William Johnson.

Constance Mitchell addressing the “What makes us, US? Conflict and Communityforum (2012)

Hopefully you will have seen the leaders of tomorrow. To some of the students, the project was probably just another school exercise. To others, making the documentary may well have sparked a lifetime interest. So, when it is their turn to host and attend League of Women Voter’s forums, they’ll be ready, willing and able.


About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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