Monday, September 20, 2010

Beyond the Bricks: Documentary Film Project Kicks Off 10 City Community Engagement Tour Addressing Education Crisis of African American Males

By Tokiwa T. Smith
San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

Beyond the Bricks is a documentary film project produced by Washington Keon Media that discusses the issues of consistently low performance of African American males in school. The film follows African-American students Shaquiel Ingram and Erick Graham as they struggle to stay on the track in the Newark, NJ public school system. Weaved into the boys’ stories is commentary from some of the country’s foremost leaders, experts and scholars focused on black boys and their education, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and Schott Foundation President Dr. John Jackson, among others. Though the film focuses primarily on students from Newark, NJ, the issues addressed extend to urban enclaves throughout the nation.

Starting September 18 with a screening in Jackson, Mississippi at Tougaloo College, there will be a 10 city community engagement tour that will bring together educators, community leaders, policy makers, parents and students for town hall meetings to address the issues concerning the education of African American males. Washington Keon Media Productions (WKMP) has established strategic partnerships with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement of The Open Society Institute, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and other leading non-profit organizations, as well as MSNBC’s and BET Network’s Centric TV Online ( to help spread the word about the tour and groundbreaking DVD documentary. Together with the Beyond The Bricks web platform (, communities across the country will be engaged to their share ideas and developments, track their progress, and work together to establish objectives and goals that can be applied for future success.

{VIDEO} Trailer for Beyond the Bricks:

Beyond The Bricks Trailer from Beyond the Bricks on Vimeo.

“The lack of quality education is at once a local issue and a national dilemma, a school problem and a community concern,” says Ouida Washington, Producer of Beyond the Bricks and one half of Washington Koen Media Productions. “Our National Campaign is one we hope will bring all the community stakeholders together to inspire them to make necessary change happen, not only where they are but also beyond. There are many examples of models and approaches that are working across the nation, and we think these ideas need to be shared so they can be replicated and even spur new ideas.”

Beyond The Bricks town hall events are open to the public and will take place on the below dates at the specified locations:

September 18 - Jackson, MS - Tougaloo College
October 2 - Oakland, CA - Allen Temple Baptist Church
October 9 - Baltimore, MD - Morgan State University
October 16 - Atlanta, GA - Morehouse College
October 23 - Detroit, MI - Detroit Public Library
October 30 - Chicago, IL - University of Chicago
November 6 - Milwaukee, WI - TBD
November 13 - Philadelphia, PA - TBD
November 20 - Boston, MA - Wheelock College
December - New Orleans, LA – TBD

Visit the website HERE for more information and to register for the town hall events.

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