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Michael Sand Archives

Exhibit Design Since the Sixties

Explore Michael Sand’s museum exhibits and other work. An in-progress labor of love, the collection spans decades of design history, cultural and political history, Boston city government, and more.

The Children of Cardozo...Tell It Like It Is


In the 1960s, the DC public schools were just a decade from Brown v. Board of Education. By 1968, they'd begun to run up against the experimental ethos of that decade, with the introduction of programs like the Cardozo Program and the Model School Division (MDS).

"Recognizing the need for reform, the Washington, D. C. Public School System sought to initiate change by setting up a Model School Division (MSD)," states a dissertation exploring the MDS experiment. "This act designed to initiate and foster change in the D.C. schools, led to the creation of the Innovation Team as a vehicle for system change...The experiences of the Innovation Team pointed out the need for indigenous mentors or agents, as initiators of change, in an urban public school system. Members of the group, as well as the leader, were employees of the Washington, D.C. school system. The Team had a common bond of classroom experiences, ethnic identity and educational ideology."

Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Cardozo neighborhood in Washington D.C. experienced several days of riots, violence, and fires. It would take decades for the neighborhood to recover, but in the immediate weeks and months that followed, the Innovation Team went to work.

Working with local teachers, the team invited neighborhood children to share their experiences of this series of events. The work the children produced was turned into a Smithsonian Institution exhibit designed by Michael, then Design Director of the Education Development Center (EDC), a partner in the school program. The exhibit was displayed on the National Mall, then traveled the country. Several publications were produced from the initiative.

"Children witnessed the rioting, and the experience was rather devastating. We just couldn't leave it alone," said Anne W. Pitts, an Innovation teacher at the time. "This was a catharsis, to get it out of the system." (From D.C.'s Riots Through the Eyes of Children)

We believe there are additional related projects in the archives that we have yet to identify (and at least one known project: Cardozo Raps).

Further reading:

Children of Cardozo exhibit boxes
Looking through a doorway, at least a dozen cardboard boxes are vertically stacked to form a staggered wall.

Some of the boxes feature excerpts of children's reflections on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the subsequent riots in…

Close-up of a yellow and red carnation flower.

Woman exiting building while carrying boxes
Exterior shot of a woman exiting building while carrying three or four empty cardboxes stacked vertically. The boxes, used in the exhibit display, tower over her. She wears glasses, a light-colored shirt, and a skirt, and has a purse slung over her…

Child's drawing mounted to cardboard box display
A close-up shot of a children's drawing mounted to the side of a cardboard box, used as a display surface in the exhibit; only the top left corner of the artwork is visible. It appears to be drawn in crayon, and depicts two brown buildings labelled…

Soul Bros (child's drawing)
Close up excerpt of a child's crayon drawing of a storefront reading "Soul Bros." The building is red with a brown doorway and black steps. A neighboring red brick building has a smashed window.

Riot? (child's drawing)
Close up excerpt of a child's drawing in crayon. It reads, in part, "riot?'" In another handwriting beneath this is the word "yes" in pen or pencil.

I'm a Soul Girl (child's drawing)
Close up excerpt of a child's crayon drawing of a stick figure girl with black hair, holding a box of candy. A speech bubble reads "I'm a soul girl." She stands in front of a burning building bearing the sign "Soul Brother," facing a street sign…

Stacks of cardboard  boxes make up an exhibit display
Large cardboard boxes stacked into at least six vertical towers display children's drawings and quotes. Among them are: "People said that Dr. King got shot in the face. I feel bad," "Mrs. King said My husband couldn't stand for this. He was man…

Five people handling an exhibit display made of large, vertically stacked cardboard boxes
Several people attempt to move a stack of large, empty cardboard boxes to create an exhibit display approximately 8-10 feet tall. One woman stands with her raised arms supporting the boxes, while a man uses a large piece of timber to support the top…

Soul is a feeling inside (child's drawing)
Close up of a cardboard box used as an exhibit display. Written on the box in a child's handwriting is "Soul is a feeling inside."

Projects in this collection: